It's become an instantly recognizable global trademark.
When you think of German luxury automakers, you likely think of BMW, Audi, and Mercedes. These brands are all very different in their own ways and very similar in others, but one thing that each has in common is a corporate identity that is instantly recognizable anywhere in the world. You don't need to see the name "Mercedes-Benz" beneath a three-pointed star to know that this badge signifies Stuttgart's premier luxury brand. But while it looks like a very simple design that shouldn't have much of a story, it is actually rich with heritage, so read on and see how the timeless badge came to be 100 hundred years ago and how it has evolved in the time since.
In its current form, 2021 marks 100 years of the signet. On 5 November 1921, Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft (DMG) applied for a trademark of the design, with registration taking place in August of 1923. However, the star without the surrounding ring had been existence for a decade or so, with a trademark for this applied for in 1909 and approval arriving two years later. The design is so meaningful to Stuttgart that a massive star sits atop the city's station tower, or at least it did until renovation there started. At present, this large fixture sits in front of the Mercedes-Benz museum, but it will return to its original place in 2025.
In 1926, DMG merged with Benz & Cie. to form Daimler-Benz AG, and the trademarks of each company merged, seeing DMG's three-pointed star edged with Benz's laurel wreath. As for the Mercedes part of the name, it came from Austrian businessman Emil Jellinek, who used his daughter's name as a pseudonym for team and driver while racing in DMG vehicles from as early as 1899. Shortly thereafter, the name "Mercedes" became the name of all vehicles that the businessman ordered from DMG. In September 1902, Mercedes was registered as a trademark too.
The three-pointed star designed by Adolf Daimler was designed to symbolize Gottlieb Daimler's vision of motorization "on land, on water, and in the air," while the laurel wreath of Benz that replaced a cogwheel that was used until then was supposedly meant to reference the motorsport achievements of the Mannheim company.
Benz and Daimler were formally joined on 1 May 1924, with the original representation showing the emblems of the two manufacturers side by side. On 18 February 1925, the two were finally joined together and registered as a new trademark, along with the word mark Mercedes-Benz. Ever since, it has remained virtually unchanged. Interestingly, DMG had trademarked a four-pointed star in 1921, but it was never used until 19 May 1989 as a trademark of the former aerospace outfit Deutsche Aerospace Aktiengesellschaft (DASA) and further down the line, DaimlerChrysler Aerospace.
Mercedes is now using its anniversary to promote its transition to an electric future with vehicles like the Mercedes-Benz EQS and more, and there's a good chance that we may see a lightly refreshed three-pointed star to signify this in the future.