While 2020 generally left much to be desired, it did bring a few things to celebrate, including the 100th anniversary of the inception of the Toyo Cork Kogyo Company, which we know today as Mazda.
Jujiro Matsuda founded his cork manufacturing company in Hiroshima in 1920. His very first logo was a red circle with a broken horizontal line through the centre. This is said to have indicated his hope to contribute to the world.
In 1927, Toyo Kyogo made the transition to manufacturing heavy machinery in 1927, and the company had manufactured it first vehicle – the Mazda-Go three-wheel truck – by 1931. The vehicle was named for Ahura Mazda, a Zoroastrian deity. The name translates to “god of wisdom.” Toyo Kyogo developed a new Mazda logo in 1934, but the company only officially changed its name in 1984.
In 1936, Mazda designed yet another new logo, honouring Hirosshima’s logo of three wavy lines on a green background which represents the three flows of the Ota River delta. The three lines were used to form a stylized M, and this was the logo that was used up to the late 1950s. Mazda also required a simple Mazda badge for its export vehicles, and a simple block-printed version was created in 1954.
When developing the R360 – its first passenger vehicle – Mazda designed yet another logo – an elongated circle with an M in the middle. For the 1964 Cosmo prototype (and the 1967 Cosmo Sport), this logo was embedded in a rounded triangle, a shape familiar to Mazda’s rotary-engine fans.
In the 1970s, Mazda returned the block letter logo, this time adding a stylized Z. This perhaps their best-known logo and was in use until 1997.
When the 1990s appeared, Mazda felt it needed a more symbolic logo, and replaced the block letters with the diamond-in-a-rounded-square logo in 1991. It was intended to be symbolic of wings and the sun but was too close to that of the Renault logo. In 1992, Mazda rounded its edges and this the emblem that adorned the first-generation Miata.
The current Mazda logo was developed in 1997 and features a wing-like V that meets a squared circle, forming an M shape. It’s often paired with the block-style lettering from the 70s
Twenty-five years on, it is certainly time for a new logo. We wonder what Mazda could have in store for us.