Rosettes

From their separate beginnings, both Austin and Morris had their own distinctive logos and by-lines which were updated in the fashion of the day. Memorable slogans such as “You Buy a Car, but You Invest in an Austin” and “If you don’t Buy a Morris, at least Buy a Car Built in the British Empire” would hardly be used in today’s market!

One very recognisable logo from the 1920s, and indeed remains synonymous with the brand today, is the MG Octagon – a standout effort alongside the VW and Ford logos.

The Car With Its Name Up in Lights – Wolseley was instantly recognised at night, with its illuminated grille badge; particularly if it was attached to a Police 6/80 or 6/90.

When the Austin Motor Company and the Nuffield organisation merged in 1952 in England, one of the first things the new conglomerate did was adopt a new logo, in the form of a Rosette. This was reportedly chosen by Leonard Lord who, being a cattle breeder, noted the best in show was always awarded a champion’s rosette.

Initially, the rosette appeared in all the various advertisements as just an outline with AUSTIN, MORRIS or Riley, etc in its centre.

However, by about 1954, BMC standardised the familiar four-colour Rosette, being red, white, blue and yellow (with black outlines and details), with the reference to The British Motor Corporation Ltd. This lasted, unchanged in the UK at least, until the merger with Leyland in 1968.

Variations of this standardised Rosette were used by the Competition Department at Abingdon, while less obvious variations were also used in some overseas plants, such as South Africa.

For some reason, though, BMC Australia had to be different, so the Rosette was soon changed substantially for our own market and purpose.

By the time the new Zetland factory in Sydney was up and running in 1958, we had an altered version superimposed over the map of Australia, and the words inside were a real mouthful: The British Motor Corporation (Aust) Pty Ltd.

But even once an Australian corporate identity had been decided on, there was no consistency, either within the main marketing and advertising areas, or in many other departments.

Sometimes the outer portion of the rosette was red and the inner blue, like in the UK, while other times these colours were reversed.

Newsletters from the Parts and Accessories Department carried an assortment of logos and identification, in varying colours, during the early 1960s.

P&A also used a simplified logo with the Aussie map on their parts boxes for some time - even after 1961. The boxes were distinctive in their red, white and blue striping.

In October 1961, when rationalisation of dealerships took place, and all Morris and Austin dealers became BMC dealers (or lost their dealership completely), a new, simpler logo was devised.

Using only red, blue and black, with much less detail, this was also easier for sign writers to paint – printers also had an easier time of it too, as there was no shading or stippled effect as in the British version.

The colours were similar to the Australian flag: Mail Red and Regal Blue. The copy was easier too; just BMC Sales Service, which said it all.

If you would like to read the rest of this story, grab your copy of the magazine today from your local newsagent, buy a digital copy through our digital sales, or subscribe today.


The BMC Experience Issue 9. Apr-Jun 2014 Magazine

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