The History and Story Behind the McLaren Logo

McLaren Logo

When it comes to recognition, the McLaren swoosh is one that has little observable complexities. The logo is a simple swoosh but it have you ever stopped to wonder how the automakers came up with the logo? Every brand of Car has developed a distinct graphic that identifies and distinguishes them from the competition. Some are more complicated and others, like McLaren are simple. There is also a story behind every logo. McLaren is a British automaker that is highly esteemed for complex racing cars and their recent entry into cars designed for the road. The logo that features the name of the automaker along with a simple swoosh may not seem particularly inventive, but you must hear the story behind it before you decide.

The official McLaren Swoosh Story

The small swoosh was developed when the car manufacturer joined in a partnership with the Marlboro company. The idea for the red chevron actually came from the cigarette company and was already in use by the brand. Since the two were in a partnership, McLaren took on the logo and placed one single red mark at the corner of the famous name. At the time, the company only produced racing cars. It was when they began the production of street cars that the logo took on a slightly different shape and was morphed into the swoosh that represent the brand today.

McLaren’s explanation of the symbolism

In a Carfection video released, the swoosh is discussed and it is here that the symbolism behind the swoosh is mentioned. Just as McLaren is known for its technical boldness, the explanation of the representation of the logo puts it out for the world to know that the swoosh symbolizes the airflow that takes place when the car is in a wind tunnel, and it’s lightning speed produces vortexes of smoke that swirl from the tail of the car as it jets forward. Carfection isn’t quite buying this explanation. They believe that there’s more to the story that isn’t being told.

Carfection’s version of the story

Carfection presents some compelling arguments about the real meaning of the swoosh and this takes it back to the founder of the company, Bruce McLaren. Bruce was a native of New Zealand and when you consider that the kiwi that was used as a logo on every racing car as well as street cars, in a plain black silhouette, you can see how the bird image was minimized into a speeding image that becomes the speedy kiwi. When the folks at Carfection compared this image with the swoosh we all recognize so readily today, there is a remarkable resemblance. It is their firm belief that this connection with the logo currently used today is the real story behind the evolution of the logo and that it is an evolution of McLaren’s classic kiwi design that morphed into the image that is used today.

The official McLaren Stance on the Subject

The alternate rendering of the story behind the McLaren logo is one that the auto manufacturer dismisses. There isn’t a hint coming from anyone involved in the development or marketing arena that is willing to verify the story or to even slightly alter their version. When it comes to marketing, big name companies like to represent the elements of a product that grabs the attention of their intended audience and the swoosh being represented as vortices of smoke and air swirling behind the speeding machine seem to take on a more powerful and lightning fast quality. This explanation of the logo conjures images of an auto so fast that it heats up the road beneath and leaves a trail of swirling smoke in its wake. When you compare this with a kiwi bird from New Zealand, what are the conclusions that you would first draw? New Zealand is known for its beautiful landscapes and tranquil serenity and before we’d imagine the kiwi tearing up the skies, we’d think of peace and quiet which is not what the automaker wants to express in their logo.

Will the admission ever come?

It’s doubtful that McLaren will ever change it’s story or even acknowledge the possibility of the kiwi connection. We thank the folks at Carfection for bringing us this insightful look at the possible origins of the swoosh with a plausible explanation that makes more sense logistically, but it’s not the marketing strategy that the company wants to pursue at this time.


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