We were recently given the opportunity to see for ourselves how the Datsun logo evolved into the Nissan logo and unlike all other car brands who have a three to twelve logo change over their individual course of history, Datsun’s logo change to the current Nissan logo was over twenty-nine (29) logo changes. Yes, there were 29 changes made since the start of the company in 1931 until today.
Nissan’s predecessor Jidosha Seizo Company was established in December 1933. However, the history of the companies it acquired and merged with dates back to 1910. This includes Kwaishinsha Motor Car Works and Tobata Casting Company.
In the initial years, the company produced cars under the DAT name which was taken from the initial letters of three investors who put money in Kwaishinsha Motor Car Works. The name was institutionalized as a brand in 1931 as DATSON meaning son of DAT but it was pretty soon changed to DATSUN since SON also meant “loss” in Japanese.
It wasn’t abnormal at the time for Japanese companies to continue without an official logo. Other such examples include Mazda and Toyota.
The company’s name was officially changed to Nissan Motor Company in 1934 although it continued to supply cars under the Datsun brand for export markets. A simple logo paying homage to the “land of rising sun” was used as its visual identity. This logo depicted a blue rectangle with DATSUN written in white letters and a red circle in the background.
The logo continued until 1984 before Nissan decided to phase out the Datsun brand and replaced the DASTUN wording with NISSAN in the emblem. In 1988, a new logo was introduced which had silver and grey colors in place of the original red and blue.
This was further changed in 1990 when the logo was done in black and white colors and the circle merged with the horizontal rectangle.
The latest update in Nissan emblem in 2012 had shades of silver and grey without any major changes.
Below is a historical presentation of the automaker’s heritage:
1910-1920: The Kwaishinsha Motor Car Works company is founded and produces the small passenger car DAT (acronym of the company’s investors’ names: Kenjiro Den, Rokuro Aoyama, Meitaro Takuchi).
1920-1930: Kwaishinsha Co. becomes DAT Motorcar Company. Separately, Yoshisuke Aikawa founds Nippon Sangyo, abbreviated in stock market as “Ni-san.”
1930-1940: DAT manufactures the Datson, literally meaning the son of DAT, a smaller version of the DAT. Shortly after, a merger between the companies establishes Nissan Motor Co. Nissan renames the company and car Datsun, because “son” also means “loss” in Japanese, while “sun” would honor the Japanese nation.
1950-1970: Nissan/Datsun achieve exportation success during this time, and subsequent mergers bring forth new models.
1970-1990: The US energy crisis brings a demand for fuel-efficient Japanese imports. Nissan Motors USA is established and the Datsun brand is phased out by 1986.
1990-2000: Before the turn of the century, Nissan makes a deal with Renault to avoid bankruptcy.
2010s: Datsun is re-launched as a low-cost brand for emerging markets.
Not only is the Nissan name an abbreviation for the original company, it’s also a combination of Japanese characters “ni” (“sun”) and “ssan” (“product” or “birth”). Thus, Nissan is a product of Japan, the land of the rising sun.