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The History and Story Behind the Honda Logo

Honda is named for a man named Honda Soichiro. In short, he was born to a blacksmith and a weaver in a small village in the Chubu region of Honshu. Honda had no interest in a traditional education. Instead, he was fascinated by machines, so much so that he went to Tokyo where he became an apprentice at a garage when he was still a teenager. Thanks to this, Honda gained the expertise and the experience that he needed to start up his own auto repair business when he was still at the age of 22.

By 1937, Honda had founded Tokai Seiki for the purpose of producing piston rings for Toyota. However, its Yamashita plant was destroyed by a U.S. bomber in 1944 while its Iwata plant was destroyed by the Mikawa earthquake in 1945. As a result, Honda sold the remnants of Tokai Seiki to Toyota after the war before using the proceeds to found the Honda Technical Research Institute in 1946. This was when he and his team started making motorized bicycles, with the result that the Honda Technical Research Institute could be liquidated for the funds needed to incorporate the Honda Motor Company in 1949.

Since that time, the business has become a multinational conglomerate. Something made possible by not just its motorcycles but also its automobiles, which have managed to carve out commanding positions for themselves in their respective markets.

There are a number of logos associated with Honda:

The basic Honda logo has managed to remain very consistent over time. For those who are curious, the earliest version was nothing more than the brand name rendered in bolded text. Something that continues to see use in the present time.

Later, Honda introduced the badge bearing a super-sized "H." One of its most stand-out characteristics is that the "H" is broader towards the top and narrower towards the bottom, with the result that some commenters have compared it to a person raising their arms towards the heavens. This is fitting because this reflects Honda's belief in reaching out for one's dreams, which is best expressed by its official motto of "The Power of Dreams."

Brand-wise, Honda seems to have been intent on building a reliable image. For instance, its letters tend to be thick-looking, which serves to communicate a sense of solidity. Furthermore, it should be mentioned that the sheer consistency of the Honda logo has contributed much to this impression because long-used symbols build up enormous momentum. Having said that, the Honda logo is solid but stops short of being stodgy because that impression of a person raising their arms towards the heavens imbues it with a touch of the higher side of things. In this as in other things, balance is important.

As for the colors, Honda uses red, black, and silver, which are well-suited for its intended image. After all, red is the color of power and passion, both of which are critical for the marketing of such manufacturers. For comparison, black exudes timeless sophistication while silver exudes clean elegance, which are very useful for the same.

Honda Motorcycle Logo

Meanwhile, the Honda motorcycle logo have seen more changes over time. However, there has been a remarkable degree of continuity to it as well, with the best example being the incorporation of a single upraised wing. Those who are curious should know that this was inspired by Greek mythology.

Much of Greek mythology is focused on the cycle of kings. Ouranos was the first ruler of the cosmos. However, he was overthrown by his son Kronos, who was prophesied to be overthrown by one of his sons in turn. To prevent this, Kronos consumed his children, which came to an end when his wife Rhea switched out his sixth child Zeus for a rock. When Zeus grew up, he freed his siblings by feeding his father an emetic before gathering supporters to make war upon him.

The first to side with Zeus was Zeus's cousin Styx, who presided over the river that separated Earth from the Underworld. Furthermore, she brought her four children Zelus, Nike, Kratos, and Bia, who were the personifications of zeal, victory, strength, and power. Upon Zeus's victory over Kronos, Styx's name became the basis of the strongest oath that could be made by the pantheon, while her four children became valued members of Zeus's retinue.

Nike was the most famous of the four, which is perhaps unsurprising considering her purview. As a result, she was everywhere in the classical world, with examples ranging from coins that bore her image to statues that showed her either on her own or with someone else. Due to this, there are a lot of surviving images of Nike, with one of the most famous being the Winged Victory of Samothrace. The wing in the Honda motorcycle logo was inspired by Nike. However, wings possess other positive connotations such as speed as well as the freedom of flight, which have presumably further contributed to their suitability.

Acura Logo

Acura would be Honda's luxury brand. From the very start, its marketing was focused on the excellent craftsmanship of the vehicles that bore this particular brand. One example can be seen in how the name Acura incorporates the "acu" prefix for clearness and sharpness. Another example can be seen in how the initial motto was "Precision Crafted Performance."

In any case, the Acura logo took clear inspiration from the Honda logo while still being very much its own thing. It is interesting to note that its badge bears what can sometimes look like a stylized, super-sized "A." However, that isn't the case. Instead, its badge bears a pair of calipers that have been designed to look like a stylized, super-sized "A." On initial consideration, that might not seem very suitable for a luxury brand, seeing as how calipers are tools meant for work in a wide range of roles on a wide range of projects. However, calipers actually fit in quite well with the intended marketing for Acura because they are meant for measuring dimensions, meaning that they communicate a similar sense of fineness. When combined with the sense of solidity from their nature as a worker's tool, the result is very reminiscent of the Honda logo's overall impression.

Allen Lee

Written by Allen Lee

Allen Lee is a Toronto-based freelance writer who studied business in school but has since turned to other pursuits. He spends more time than is perhaps wise with his eyes fixed on a screen either reading history books, keeping up with international news, or playing the latest releases on the Steam platform, which serve as the subject matter for much of his writing output. Currently, Lee is practicing the smidgen of Chinese that he picked up while visiting the Chinese mainland in hopes of someday being able to read certain historical texts in their original language.

Read more posts by Allen Lee

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