MERCEDES-Benz’s three-pointed star badge is one of the most recognisable in the world, and almost everyone knows it’s about the famous German vehicle brand.
But the badge is actually somewhat older than the car.
Its origins date back to 1909, which predates the formation of the company by 16 years.
Back then, the companies that would eventually merge to make Mercedes-Benz were Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft (DMG) and Benz & Cie. — two independent entities.
At the time, DMG was being run by Paul and Adolf Daimler, the sons of company founder Gottlieb Daimler.
The brothers decided their company needed a new logo and settled on a symbol used by their late father, who died in 1900.
During his time as technical director of the Deutz gas engine factory, Gottlieb Daimler used a three-pointed star to mark the family home on a postcard.
The three-pointed star was also considered a fitting symbol for Daimler since the company’s engines were used in land, sea and aeronautical applications.
The brothers officially registered the symbol on June 24, 1909, with the German Imperial Patent Office, and were granted a trademark for the three-pointed star on February 9, 1911.
Meanwhile, Benz & Cie. was working on a new logo of its own that featured the word “Benz” surrounded by a laurel wreath that celebrated the company’s racing successes.
The symbol was filed with the German government on August 6, 1909, and was granted trademark protection on October 10, 1910.
Then, in 1925, DMG and Benz & Cie. agreed to merge their automotive businesses along with their logos, creating Daimler-Benz AG and the circle-encrusted star that first appeared on a road car in 1926 and is still used by Mercedes-Benz to this day.
Although the logo has changed little over the last nine decades, its placement has.
The three-pointed star was originally fixed at the top of a car’s radiator, forming a prominent bonnet ornament.
But in the 1930s, Mercedes-Benz decided to fit its racing cars with a flat version of the logo to minimise wind resistance.
In 1952, the 300 SL sports car became the first road-going Merc to feature the star in the middle of its grille, rather than on top of it.
And it’s because of that first SL that sporty Mercedes-AMG products wear a grille-mounted logo instead of the hood-mounted symbol used on most Mercedes-Benz road cars.
And anyone following Formula 1 will instantly recognise the perennial winning cars of Hamilton and Bottas.