Whereas Benz & Cie. ultimately only modified its trademark, DMG came up with an all-new logo for its "Mercedes" lettering in 1909: Alfred von Kaulla, Chairman of the Supervisory Board at Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft, prompted a search for a catchy, easily recognisable symbol for the Mercedes-branded passenger cars.
The defining idea came from Paul and Adolf Daimler, the sons of the company founder who had died several years earlier in 1900: they adapted a three-pointed star for use as the brand logo. Their father, Gottlieb Daimler, had used a symbol like this one to mark the family's house on a postcard depicting a view of the town of Deutz during his time as technical director of Gasmotorenfabrik Deutz. On 24 June, DMG applied for legal protection for a graphically designed version of the symbol.
At the same time, the Stuttgart company also applied for protection of a symbol comprising a four-pointed star. However, from 1910 onwards, only the three-pointed star was used as an emblem on the radiators of the Mercedes vehicles. It symbolises the use of Daimler engines on land, at sea and in the air. The four-pointed star became the emblem of Deutsche Aerospace AG (DASA) in the 1980s and is now the logo of the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS).
In its formative years, the Mercedes star was used without a surrounding ring. Primarily it adorned the radiators, but it was also sometimes seen on the sides of the bonnets of Mercedes passenger cars, often still combined with the "Mercedes" lettering. One typical image comprises two Mercedes stars opposite one another on both sides of the characteristic V-shaped radiator.
Evolution of an emblem
This logo was designed with spatial perception in mind as early as 1909: the version of the drawn star with light and dark surfaces suggests a vivid form illuminated from the top left so as to create a fascinating interplay between light and shade. The three-dimensional star that DMG mounted on radiators and bonnets was also designed in this way.
The combination of the star with a wide ring and the "Mercedes" lettering in 1916 pre-empted elements of the Mercedes‑Benz emblem that appeared later. Four small stars in the round strip picked up the theme of the central symbol.
In November 1921, DMG then registered a vivid star in a ring as an emblem – expressly also for the use as a three-dimensional figure on the radiator. The corresponding trademark was registered on 2 August 1923. In this new position on the radiator cap, the upright, stand-alone star was far more easily recognisable than the reliefs on the radiator, most of which were made of the same metal as their bases. And although this design had a dignified look, it was difficult to recognise when the car flew past at high speed.
In 1925, the current versions of the star and laurel wreath were combined to create the new signet for the Mercedes-Benz brand. The applications to register the logo and the word mark "Mercedes-Benz" as trademarks, on 18 February and 25 April 1925 respectively, pre-empted the merger between the two brands in 1926. The two trademarks were entered on the Register of Trademarks for the new company Daimler-Benz AG on 3 September 1926 and 7 October 1927.
The outline of the new symbol picked up on the circular form of the two previous trademarks, with the central Mercedes star remaining the prominent feature. The accompanying "Mercedes" lettering moved from the lower edge of the ring to the top, with the word "Benz" appearing in its place. The two laurel branches from the Mannheim brand's trademark replaced the small Mercedes stars. The branches have their roots right next to the letters "B" and "Z", while the tips stretch out to the "M" and "S" in the name of the new sister brand.
This design of 1926 gave rise to a complex trademark that reflected the claims made about their products by the two carmakers and also alluded to some of the history behind the company and the brand. In 1933, Mercedes-Benz then registered a streamlined form of the emblem comprising a slim, black circlet in which the black silhouette of the Mercedes star could be seen.