Although a winged arrow has adorned ŠKODA cars for many decades, the earliest-ever logo depicted a bicycle wheel surrounded by linden leaves. Shall we take a walk through the history of the ŠKODA logo?
Slavia bicycles, the initials L&K, laurel leaves, and the winged arrow. These
are the most important milestones in ŠKODA logo history, which extends
back more than 120 years. There is a story behind each trademark and
it relates to major changes which transformed the company. The whole
journey started out in 1895 in response to the disdainful response
to a complaint about a German bicycle.
In 1895, Václav Laurin and Václav Klement joined forces to establish an enterprise which eventually was to become ŠKODA. As true of many other automotive pioneers, it all began with bicycle production. It seems Václav Klement had filed a complaint about
a bicycle of the Germania brand, doing so in the Czech language. The manufacturer
rejected his complaint, stating that it was “not in an understandable language”.
Hence,he and Václav Laurin established their first company and named it Slavia. The firm manufactured and repaired bicycles and motorbikes. The first logo in the story therefore represents a bicycle wheel bedecked with linden leaves, a mythological symbol of the Slavic nations. Later, the logo was augmented to include the names of the founders and the seat of the company: the city of Mladá Boleslav.
1905: Automotive premiere
The adventure in automobiles began at the turn of the 20th century with the Voiturette.
To mark this important transition, the company was rechristened Laurin & Klement.
It received a brand new logo in the Art Nouveau style, which was then very much
in vogue. The logo presents the initials of its proprietors within a laurel wreath. However,
this logo coexisted with another one for almost 25 years. During the first decades of the
automotive epic it was actually common, in addition to the logo as we know it today,
to inscribe the name of the brand, in this case Laurin & Klement, in full on the front
of the vehicle.
1925: The merger
After the Great War, Laurin & Klement diversified their activities considerably to take
in bicycles, motorbikes, cars, lorries, buses, agricultural engines, and even airplane
engines. But in 1924, amid financial problems and after a fire had ravaged the premises,
the brand had to search for a new industrial partner. For its part, ŠKODA Works, then one
of Europe’s largest industrial groups, with activities ranging from armaments to railways
as well as aviation and shipyards, among other things , was just venturing into the
automotive industry and likewise was seeking a partner already established in this
field. A merger was concluded with Laurin & Klement. From that time, the vehicles were
to be sold under the ŠKODA brand, bearing a new logo which combined the identities
of the two partners: the name ŠKODA surrounded by the crown of laurel.
This logo was to be used for 10 years, although traces of another emblem can be found
already from 1923…
1926: The Indian
This year ŠKODA registered a logo you will recognize today: the blue-winged arrow,
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which is a stylized representation of an Indian headdress with feathers and an arrow. Its
origins are extraordinarily mysterious; it is believed that one of the contributing authors
was commercial director of the ŠKODA company in Pilsen. Nevertheless, the most
credible account as to its meaning is that the symbol sought to express progress and
movement into the future. What is certain is that this blue-winged arrow replaced the
“ŠKODA and laurel” on the brand’s vehicles from the mid-1930s. And although this logo
has since evolved, it is still used today on ŠKODA Original replacement parts.
1993: Hello, Volkswagen!
The blue logo was borne by all vehicles through the Soviet era and did not change for
over 60 years. Then in 1991, when the Volkswagen Group took over responsibility for
ŠKODA’s destiny, this occasioned the opportunity for a little rejuvenation. So, in 1993,
the blue gave way to green and the circle was enlarged to allow for the inscription
“ŠKODA AUTO”. This green logo debuted on ŠKODA FELICIA, the first vehicle of the
1999: A rising power
In the embrace of the German giant, ŠKODA experienced spectacular growth. Its vehicles
were increasingly “designed”, the quality was ever higher, and they continued
to be priced more competitively. They enjoyed enormous success. The logo evolved yet
again to distance the brand a little more from its past as “a from the East”. The greenwinged
arrow was retained, but a new meaning was assigned to its colour such that
it took on a sense of eco-friendliness. Meanwhile, the logo’s overall appearance was
enhanced as the circle’s green was replaced with a more elegant black.
2011: Solid reputation well established
Over the course of time, ŠKODA automobiles have established a very solid reputation for
quality, reliability, practicality, and at the same time elegance. Upon entering into the
second decade of the 21st century, it was decided once again to freshen up the logo.
The winged arrow was by that time well enough known that it could evoke the brand all
The name ŠKODA therefore disappeared from the logo. To add refinement and elegance,
the black circle was enclosed within a chrome band. Even though green is still the
“official” colour of ŠKODA, the colour in the end disappeared from those logos affixed
upon vehicles. That version is now completely chrome (circle and winged arrow)
on a black background and expresses the brand’s 2011 values: youth and precision. The
current values –Simplifying, Surprising, Human – have shaped the logo into an even
more contemporary form.