The development and meaning of the Nissan logo

Nissan is a Japanese listed vehicle manufacturer. With just under 139.000 employees in 2019, the corporation is the third largest Japanese automobile manufacturer in terms of market value. The company and its brand have a long history.

What does the Nissan logo mean?

The development of vehicles and thus the first logo has its origin in 1914. The three Japanese company partners Kenjiro Den, Rokuro Aoyama and Meitaro Takeuchi from “Kaishinisha Jidosha Kojo” built a car with the name “DAT”. The name of the car was an abbreviation of the surnames of the three company owners. Due to the friendship with one of the founders of the Japanese automotive industry, Mr. Masujiro Hashimoto, the company was restructured several times and resulted in the limited partnership GK DAT Jido Shokai in 1925. The focus on military vehicles leads to mergers with other automobile manufacturers due to the falling demand. The “DAT Jidosha Seizo” based in Osaka, Japan, and finally “DAT Automobile Manufacturing Co., Limited” were created through a merger. The productions became more variable, so that three-wheeled vehicles were just as much a part of the portfolio as four-wheeled models and trucks.
With the decree of the Japanese government in 1930, vehicles with engines up to 500 cc were allowed to be driven without a license. The company “DAT Jidosha Seizo” started with a series of cars under the project name “Sohn vom DAT” (English: “the son of the DAT”). The manufacture of DAT focused on larger, high-quality vehicles until 1930. With the designation “son”, which also means “disadvantage” and “loss” in Japanese, the first sale of a car for the middle class became clear by name. The “Datson 10” model, a smaller car with 495 cm³ engine power, was sold on the automobile market.
A devastating hurricane destroyed the factory where the “Datson 10” was manufactured. As a result, the factory for the production of the Datson was rebuilt. This name was eventually changed to “Datsun”. The renaming made an allusion to the English word “sun” (German: “sun”), as well as to Japan as the “land of the rising sun”. With the following model, “Datsun 11”, the name “Datsun” was used in the company name for the first time. “Tobata Casting”, a supplier to “DAT”, took over “DAT Automobile Manufacturing Co., Ltd.” in 1931.
In 1928 a company holding company "Nihon Sangyo" was established. This company was listed on the Japanese stock exchange with the symbol “Nissan”. The owner, Yoshisuke Aikawa, was also the owner of “Tobata Casting”. The two companies merged in 1933 under the name “Jidosha Seizo Co, Ltd.”. The literal translation with “automobile manufacturer” was chosen in line with the vision of producing vehicles for the mass market in the future.
In June 1934 Aikawa became company president and the company operated under its current name Nissan Motor Co., Limited.
The naming and thus also the logo resulted from the “Ni” from “Nihon” and from “ssan”, which has its meaning in “sangyo”. “Nihon Sangyo” means “Japanese Industry”.
With the mass suitability and export, a recognizable logo became necessary. “Datsun”. The announcement from the history was made in the logo with the help of a red circle. The logo implied the Japanese symbol of the rising sun. The global awareness of the brand increased with the white letters of the company name on a blue, rectangular background in front of the red circle. The company's designers experimented with colors and fonts, but it wasn't until 1984 that “Datsun” was replaced by Nissan in the logo. This development went with the discontinuation of the “Datsun” brand. The name of the company “Nissan” should be strengthened so that the models have been successively renamed from Datsun to Nissan. The name change spanned a period of about three years until 1984. The name change was justified with the global strategy and the simplification of advertising, campaigns and a uniform product design.
To keep up with the zeitgeist, a more elegant and modern logo version was created in 1988. The color blue was replaced with gray and the red circle changed to silver. With the partnership alliance with Renault in 1999, there were no changes in the brand's independence relevant to the logo. Nissan continued to operate as a global brand. In 2012 the slogan “Innovation that inspires” was added to the logo, and the logo itself was modified with light shades of gray and silver.
The logo has retained the basic features of the circle with the central lettering of the brand or company name as characteristics throughout the history and has been continuously adapted to the spirit of the times with the help of modern colors and different designs, for example in three dimensions.

The “Datsun” brand was reintroduced in 2014 as a cheap car brand in emerging countries such as India, South Africa and Indonesia.