A century of the winged arrow

A century of the winged arrow

One hundred years ago, on 15 December 1923, the Škoda trademark was registered. The iconic flying arrow bearing three feathers symbolised speed and progress. See how the logo on the bonnets of Škoda cars has changed since then.

12. 12. 2023 Škoda World

The winged arrow has featured in various forms on cars made in Mladá Boleslav since 1925, when it replaced the original circular Laurin & Klement logo.

Look, this is how the logo changed:

Back when it all started, the Mladá Boleslav-based company used the patriotic name Slavia for its products, i.e. bicycles. In the firm’s decorative logo and on the simplified metal plate, the logo was complemented by the surnames of the company’s founders: Laurin & Klement. The same was true for motorcycles, produced from 1899 onwards. The advent of automobile production (1905) ushered in a distinctive circular logo with the initials L&K, complete with a laurel wreath around the perimeter. This reflected the fact that major motorsport achievements were already part of the company’s DNA at that time. The calligraphic inscription Laurin & Klement, resonating with Art Nouveau elegance, also appeared in communications and on car radiators until the end of the 1920s.

The Art Nouveau-inspired logo from 1905

A symbol of speed and progress

On 15 December 1923, the Škoda trademark with the flying arrow was officially registered to a company that was not the car manufacturer from Mladá Boleslav. This was, of course, the new logo of Škoda Works, an engineering firm based in Plzeň. The company simultaneously patented an alternative with five feathers and integrated Škoda lettering that was never actually used. 

The winged arrow was patented as Škoda’s logo in 1923.

This was the result of more than a year-long search for a suitable trademark, which began with a public tender. Among some three hundred designs, a variant resembling the head of an Indian chief with a feather headdress won out. The name of the logo’s designer will probably remain a mystery forever; it may have been a collective work, gradually modified by various departments of the company. The reduction from five feathers, which as it were keep the arrow in flight, to three was due to the fact that the new trademark, used on a wide range of products, had to be clear even when it was quite small and moulded or cast in three dimensions. For these reasons, the additional word Škoda was also eventually dropped. 

The logo was based on an Indian headdress.

The new mark began to appear on cars from Mladá Boleslav less than two years later, after the Laurin & Klement car factory was integrated into the Škoda engineering concern. 

Green instead of blue

When the Škoda car company was made part of the Volkswagen Group in the early 1990s, the graphic concept of the logo changed. The original blue and white was used for company printed materials until the turn of 1992 and 1993, and as an emblem on cars until 1995.

In December 1992, the trademark was modified: the blue colour was replaced by green, and the Škoda name appeared in the circle rim with a new typeface. The slightly modified form was applied as an emblem on cars from the Škoda Felicia series that was still in development at the time. The emblem used on the cars also included a laurel wreath, invoking the company’s rich sporting tradition and historical variants of the Laurin & Klement logo.

With the increased emphasis on the environment in the 1990s, the green colour in the logo became more accentuated.

This was not an end to the logo’s development, of course. On 3 March 2011, at the prestigious Geneva Motor Show, it was not only new products in the Škoda range that were presented. The company has just celebrated the 110th anniversary of its successful involvement in motorsport with the debut of the Fabia Monte Carlo model, which first took part in the rally of the same name in January. Another focus of attention was the Vision D study, the first demonstration of the brand’s then-new design language. The distinctive Škoda design features were complemented by crisp, clean lines. So it was only logical that there would be an updated logo to go with the new corporate design. The green shade of the winged arrow was changed to a lighter one called Škoda Green, flanked by a finer chrome (formerly black) circle. The use of a 3D element also significantly enhanced the plasticity of the logo. On Tuesday 1 March, the old logo was replaced by the new one throughout the parent plant in Mladá Boleslav, followed by the branches in Kvasiny and Vrchlabí the very next day. Since 2012, the new logo has also been displayed on the cars – on their wheels, radiator grille and steering wheel. 

The Škoda logo has had a chrome outer ring since 2011.

Škoda – sounds as good as it looks!

In the summer of 2023 Škoda presented a brand new sound logo, the car company’s acoustic “signature”. The sound logo was inspired by the Vltava symphonic poem from the My Country cycle by Czech composer Bedřich Smetana. The sound logo is derived from Vltava’s playful and uplifting opening motif representing the source of the River Vltava, which is played by flutes. Even in a metaphorical sense and rendered by a modern synthesiser, it implies the start of a journey, a new era for the brand – while paying homage to the company’s tradition and Czech cultural roots.

Logo of the digital technology era

In addition to the circular logo with a winged arrow in the form existing from 2011, seven years later the distinctive Škoda lettering also began to be used on the rear of the cars, for example. In the summer of 2022, this lettering became the main communication tool. In order to make the lettering more expressive, it was given a new look with an integrated “hook” accent over the letter S, as well as a more symmetrical combination of curves and edges. The typical hook accent that usually stands above the letter S is integrated into it and blends in with the symmetry of the logo.

The company’s name took over as the main communication tool in summer 2022.

The winged arrow symbol has undergone a more minor change. The logo has been simplified and is now rendered flat, allowing the carmaker to work with the colours more expressively. The two-dimensional version is more effective, especially on mobile devices, and allows for flexible integration into various formats in response to the shift towards even greater digitalisation of communication. The new identity also includes two new shades of green, emerald and electric green. These maintain the link to history, while refreshing the logo and making a more pronounced reference to electromobility, a cornerstone of the brand’s future.

This is how the logo currently looks like. This is how the logo currently looks like.