From the very start, however, the symbol was reinforced by the VOLVO logotype placed on an attractive blue panel, along with a diagonal attachment bar. Volvo’s first passenger car, which was unveiled on 14 April 1927, featured a smart logotype at the very front of the bonnet. The text ‘VOLVO GOTHENBURG SWEDEN’ stood in white, gold-framed letters on a beautiful blue background panel. The word ‘VOLVO’ was in Egyptienne typeface.
The geographic links soon disappeared, however, as did the gold frame, while the rest of the logotype – the ‘VOLVO’ word mark – was retained. It was redesigned during the 1950s by Karl-Erik Forsberg, a Swedish typographer appointed to the royal court. Forsberg made use of a similar typeface, Volta.
From the very outset, the grille also featured a symbol, a ring with an arrow pointing offset to the top right. This is one of Man’s oldest ideograms, which in the Roman Empire was used to signify the planet, Mars. In Sweden this symbol has been used from time immemorial to signify iron processing, and when Volvo was founded Swedish iron was widely regarded as far superior to that produced by other countries – it radiated strength and dependability. The company’s founders wanted to highlight this and in their marketing material wrote about ‘the Swedish car’ made of ‘Swedish iron’. The core value of quality was thus built into Volvo’s vehicles right from the very start.
In order to be able to attach the chrome-plated iron symbol to the grille, a diagonal bar was fitted from the top right to the bottom left corner. This bar was thus a practical solution to a very real need, but as a decorative element it has come to be what is perhaps the strongest and most evocative of Volvo’s symbols. Whenever a Volvo truck is seen on a road anywhere in the world, the diagonal bar can be seen from a long way away.
The ‘VOLVO’ badge has graced all Volvo products throughout the past 80 years and the blue backing panel has been used occasionally. In the early 1930s, a winged symbol was used for a short while to denote the largest trucks in the company’s range. During certain periods, the iron mark and the diagonal bar have not been used at all. Since the introduction of the Volvo F10/F12 in 1977, however, all three symbols have graced all Volvo’s trucks. The various symbols are occasionally revised and updated, but they are always there together.
Today’s communication symbol is the iron mark with the ‘VOLVO’ word mark placed in the middle. It has developed into one of the world’s best-known and most easily recognizable trademarks.