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Exploring Tesla logo history, meaning, and symbol

by eshley jackson Tweet - in Logo Design

Tesla logo history, meaning, and symbol

When it comes to automotive innovations, few brands catch the attention. The Tesla logo is a perfect example of how innovation can be environmentally friendly. But have you ever thought about the history of the Tesla logo? How did it start? In this blog, we will discover the history, meaning, and symbol of this electric car logo.

The car industry is fast changing and switching to electric versions. Many car manufacturers have launched their environmentally friendly electric vehicles. Tesla has been a pioneering company in this field. Elon Musk, Tesla’s CEO, is credited with making electric cars popular with consumers. 

The company created a new logo to signal that Tesla has developed groundbreaking electric cars with cutting-edge technology. Its brand logo, therefore, evolved from a conventional shield symbol of security to a modern, sleek design. 

What does Tesla stand for?

Tesla is a leading electric car brand today. However, the history of Tesla started in July 2003 when Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning laid the foundation of Tesla Motors. The company was named after inventor and electrical engineer Nikola Tesla. Elon Musk joined the company in February 2004 and was named CEO in 2008

When he joined the company, Elon Musk clarified that it would address the world’s energy crisis. At that time, he said that Tesla would resolve the situation by manufacturing high-quality electric vehicles, eliminating the need for fossil fuels. 

The Tesla logo represents the company’s commitment to protecting the world from environmental pollution. The company’s logo has an interesting history and meaning. 

Tesla logo history, meaning, and symbol

It was in 2003 that Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning established Tesla Motors. This also started the era of emergence of sustainable transport. Elon Musk became the co-founder of the company in 2004.

The Tesla Roadster was Tesla’s first production vehicle. It showcased electric cars’ possibilities in the transport industry and market.

Meaning of Tesla logo

The Tesla logo is a futuristic design that conveys the company’s core message. The RO Studio created the logo. But what does the logo exactly mean? Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, explained what the simple ‘T’ letter in the logo stands for. 

On a social media platform, he had said that the letter represented the company’s products, precisely the cross-section of an electric motor. The ‘’T’’ logo stands for one of the sticks of a motor’s rotor.

In a tweet, Elon Musk explains what the letter stands for: 

In a tweet, Elon Musk explains what the letter stands for

Tesla logo history 

The Tesla logo is a minimalistic design that looks simple and quickly drives attention. But the logo also has its short evolutionary history. It is a new logo with the company starting its electric car-making business in 2003. Still, the company redesigned the Tesla symbol and transformed it from a shield design to today’s modern and sleek emblem. 

Here is how the logo design evolved:

2003-2017: Shield logo design to evoke safety

2003-2017: Shield logo design to evoke safety

The first logo that Tesla used between 2003 and 2017 was a combination of an image and a wordmark. It had a shield as a visual element that evoked security and safety when using the company’s vehicles. The company’s initial ‘T’ letter was encased in a shield layout. The company name ‘Tesla’ was written just above the symbol. The company name was written in a custom “Tesla” font. 

2017 – Today: A simplified, sleek, and modernized logo 

In 2017, Tesla came up with another modification to its iconic logo design. This time, a sleek, minimalistic design cleanly conveyed the company’s idea and purpose. The simplified and modernized logo resulted from shedding some of the elements from the previous logo. The company dropped the shield element and replaced it with a plain sans-serif wordmark. 

2017 – Today: A simplified, sleek, and modernized logo 

When the new logo displayed the ‘T’ letter in the logo so prominently, people enquired about it.

Elon Musk explained the logo design change in 2017 on Twitter.  The ‘T’ letter also pays homage to the company’s founder, Nikola Tesla, a renowned innovator.  

We can say that the change in the iconic logo design showcased the company’s futuristic vision of its electric car business. The previous shield design was about communicating that the company’s vehicles were safe and secure to use. But the new logo was the streamlined version of what Tesla does and aspires to do today. 

The updated wordmark is a distinctive identity of the Tesla brand. It gives the company a new futuristic look and communicates its brand identity. 

Tesla logo design elements

The Tesla logo is amongst the most recognizable emblems that drive our attention and signal a specific brand message. It has been a formidable symbol of progress, innovation, and sustainability in its global electric car market. 

The stylized ‘T’

The stylized ‘T’ in tesla logo

The ‘’T’’ looks like a stylized symbol. But it comes from one part of an electric motor’s cross-section.  While the top part of the ‘T’ symbolizes the air gap, the lower part is the motor’s stator. Using the letter as a symbol makes this logo a unique and memorable design. 

Font and typography

The strategic use of typography gives the logo design an unforgettable personality. A brand can express itself with the specific use of fonts. The logo font gives the brand a distinctive look and feel and evokes emotions. 

Font and typography in tesla logo

The typeface used in designing Tesla logo is the Tesla Slab. It is a slab serif typeface and has cursive italics. The logo font helps give the brandmark a unique look. 

The font also provides the logo with a minimalist look, making it a simple design that everyone can grasp quickly. Vertical lines are missing in the letters ‘’E’’ and ‘’A’’. This design helps Tesla project itself as a futuristic company that works on building electric vehicles. 

Color palette:

Tesla uses white, black, and red color scheme in its logo. These logo colors help convey the brand message to the target customers of the company’s electric cars. The white background is contrasting and makes black and red colors more visible. 

The color white symbolizes innovation, purity, luxury, and technological advancement. But black evokes the brand’s authority, luxury, and innovation. 

 white, black, and red color scheme in tesla logo

Red is used as the sole color in the new logo and as an accent. It evokes the company’s passion for designing and manufacturing futuristic electric cars. The logo color palette that Tesla chose conveys its brand message and personality efficiently.    

So, that is a brief history of the Tesla logo, which suggests that the company redesigned the symbol to rebrand its car manufacturing business. 

Is your company also planning to redesign its logo due to business expansion? Or does it require a brand-new logo to convey a new brand identity and message? Designhill, the leading creative marketplace, can help design your custom logo. Start your logo design contest or work with a designer to have your custom logo design in a few days. 

Wrapping Up. 

The Tesla logo is a widely recognized symbol of the company’s electric cars. But the logo has its history. It started as a shield design with the company name at the top. It then turned into a modern minimalist and sleek design in red. It conveys the company’s passion and love for making environment-friendly cars.

I’m a graphic designer by profession. I love writing on various topics, including graphic designing, social media marketing, SEO practices, Startup strategies, and e-commerce marketing. My love for storytelling about brands inspires me to write more. When I’m not writing, I design and read about design.



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