The decoder: The story behind Audi's badge

The story behind the German carmaker's famous rings logo

The Audi badge. Courtesy Audi

No, it doesn't have anything to do with the Olympics – something proved in the World Trademark Court in 1995, when Audi was unsuccessfully sued by the International Olympic Committee for copyright infringement. Like many of the best, most iconic corporate designs in history, the four rings of Audi's world-famous logo were born from the simplest of ideas.

In June 1932, four of Germany’s oldest independent car manufacturers – Audi, DKW, Horch and Wanderer – joined forces to become Auto Union and the four-ringed logo was brought into service. Initially only seen on the world beating Grand Prix race cars that dominated motor sport during the 1930s, the first production cars bearing the four rings only emerging from the factory in 1949.

By the mid-1950s, Auto Union was on its knees financially and was bought by Daimler-Benz in 1958. The Volkswagen Group acquired the conglomerate in 1965, the Audi name was brought out of retirement and the rest, as they say, is history.


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