Ten Oldest Company Logos in the World

June 19, 2014 by Thomas C. Frohlich

Johnson & Johnson Logo
Source: Wikimedia Commons
Even before global marketing campaigns, television commercials, and social media, a company’s logo has been important. Over time, as businesses and consumers have changed, most major companies have also changed their logos dramatically. Still, some logos have had incredible staying power and have lasted for decades or even hundreds of years.

The world’s oldest logos have all retained some core visual element, although several have been noticeably altered. Stella Artois, for example, is recognized by several details of its icon. The horn and the star resting above the label are the features continually represented in the brand’s history.

Click here to see the oldest company logos in the world

Not surprisingly, the original intent behind a company’s icon may be mysterious to many consumers. In some cases, this is due to the logo predating the company’s current operations. Global energy conglomerate Royal Dutch Shell plc (NYSE: RDS-A) was originally a shipping company, transporting kerosene to India and returning with seashells to sell in Euro. The company selected a shell image as a result.

Paint company Sherwin-Williams (NYSE: SHW), on the other hand, chose to symbolize its business with an image of a bucket of paint poured over a drawing of the Earth, a somewhat more explicit representation.

Many companies use their longevity as a selling point to consumers in advertising and on corporate websites. Companies also emphasize that they remain connected to their founding principles, with key management often related to the brand’s inventor or the company’s founder. Twinings Tea and Peugeot, for example, still employ descendants of their original founders.

While many of these companies operate internationally, all are recognizable to American consumers. Some are industry leaders — Sherwin-Williams, Levi’s, and Heinz, for example, dominate U.S. markets. Peugeot, on the other hand, failed in the U.S. Many Americans, however, recognize the brand as virtually ubiquitous in Europe.

Based on a review of the world’s oldest companies, 24/7 Wall St. identified the 10 oldest corporate logos still in use today. In order to be considered, the logo had to currently have an international presence. The logo also could not have been meaningfully changed.

1. Stella Artois
> Logo first used: 1366
> Company founded: 1366
> Parent company revenue: $43.2 billion
> Industry: Beverage

stella logo3The origins of Stella Artois can be traced to 1366 when the Den Hoorn brewery was established in Leuven, Belgium. Local brewer Sebastian Artois bought the brewery in 1708 and renamed it after himself. The word Stella, meaning “star” in Latin, was not added to the name until the company released its first seasonal beer, the Christmas Star, in 1926. However, despite numerous shifts in management over hundreds of years, the original horn logo has not changed. The same horn that once beckoned travellers in Belgium is still prominently featured in the current Stella Artois brand. Today, Anheuser-Busch-Inbev distributes Stella Artois in more than 80 countries. According to Plato Logic Limited, a beer market data company, Stella Artois is the best-selling Belgian beer in the world.

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2. Twinings Tea
> Logo first used: 1887
> Company founded: 1706
> Parent company revenue: $22.6 billion
> Industry: Beverage
twinings logoTwinings Tea has used the same logo — capitalized font beneath a lion crest — continuously for 227 years, making it the world’s oldest unaltered logo in continuous use, according to the company website. Perhaps even more remarkable, the company has occupied the same location on London’s Strand since its founding by Thomas Twining in 1706. Tea consumption was not always essential to everyday British life. Coffee, gin, and beer dominated English breakfast drink preferences in the early 18th century. By the turn of the century, however, tea had become extremely popular. After 10 generations, family-owned Twinings is now a globally recognized company, distributing its tea to more than 100 countries worldwide.

3. Bass Ale
> Logo first used: 1876
> Company founded: 1777
> Parent company revenue: $43.2 billion
> Industry: Beverage

bass-logoBass Ale has used the red triangle logo since 1876, when the logo became the first registered trademark ever issued by the British government. Its simple design may have helped Bass become one of England’s leading beer producers by 1890. The logo became so popular that Edouard Manet featured it in his 1882 work “A Bar at the Folies Bergere” and James Joyce explicitly mentioned it in his novel “Ulysses.”Bass Ale is even mentioned in connection with the sinking of the Titanic, as it was carrying 12,000 bottles of Bass in its hold when it sank. According Anheuser-Busch-InBev, Bass ale was even fought over by Napoleon.

4. Shell Oil
> Logo first used: 1904
> Company founded: 1833
> Parent company revenue: $451.2 billion
> Industry: Energy

shell logoIn 1891, Marcus Samuel and Company began shipping kerosene from London to India and bringing back seashells for sale in the European markets. Initially, the seashell business was so popular that it accounted for most of the company’s profits. Samuel incorporated the name “Shell” in 1897 and designated a mussel shell as its logo. In 1904, a scallop shell became the official logo. In 1907, Shell merged with the Royal Dutch Petroleum Company, retaining the logo that remains synonymous with the oil conglomerate. In 1915, Shell opened its first service station in California, introducing the red and yellow color scheme still in use. Today, Shell is one of the world’s largest energy companies, with a market value of nearly $260 billion.

5. Levi Strauss & Co.
> Logo first used: 1886
> Company founded: 1837
> Parent company revenue: $4.7 billion
> Industry: Clothing

levis logoLevi’s logo featuring two horses is perhaps just as durable as the denim it is printed on. Levi’s first used the logo in 1886 as a way to grow its market share before its patent on the jean-making process expired. In fact, the logo became so widespread that, according to Levi Strauss & Co., early customers would often ask for “those pants with two horses.” In fact, the brand used the name “The Two Horse Brand’ until 1928, when Levi Strauss officially trademarked the Levi’s name. Levi’s employed roughly 16,000 employees worldwide as of last year. Its product line now includes jeans, casual and dress pants, and jackets.

 

 

6. Sherwin-Williams
> Logo first used: 1905
> Company founded: 1866
> Parent company revenue: $10.2 billion
> Industry: Specialty chemicals

sherwinSherwin-Williams’s logo was originally created in the 1890s by George Ford, the company’s head advertiser. Despite initial reservations about the design, general manager Walter Cottingham considered it an accurate illustration of the company’s rapid growth. In 1905, the “cover the earth” logo replaced an image of a chameleon as the company’s official logo. Sherwin-Williams, based in Cleveland, Ohio, is one of the world’s largest manufacturers, distributors, and retailers of paint. It had nearly 4,000 stores and employed nearly 38,000 people worldwide as of 2013.

7. Heinz
> Logo first used: 1869
> Company founded: 1869
> Parent company revenue: $11.5 billion
> Industry: Food

heinz1
Source: The Kraft Heinz Co.

Heinz first hit the market in 1869 when Henry Heinz and L. Clarence Noble used vegetables from the garden of Heinz’s mother to bottle horseradish and sell it in U.S. markets. While Heinz & Noble Co. did not survive the financial panic of 1873, Heinz returned to selling condiments in a big way in 1876 when he introduced ketchup to the American consumer. Since 1876, Heinz has grown to supply more than 5,700 products worldwide. The Heinz logo itself has its roots in the original Heinz & Noble Co. of 1869. In terms of font, size, and shape, very little of the logo has changed since its inception. Last year, Heinz was acquired by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway and private equity firm 3G Capital for $28 billion.

8. Prudential
> Logo first used: 1896
> Company founded: 1875
> Parent company revenue: $41.5 billion
> Industry: Life insurance

prudential logoPrudential introduced its “Rock of Gibraltar” logo in 1896, shortly after the company was founded. The symbol appeared in a weekly newspaper above the words, “The Prudential has the strength of Gibraltar.” According to the company’s website, the rock is an icon of “strength, stability, expertise, and innovation.” Prudential has always been an insurance company, founded by John Fairfield Dryden as the Prudential Friendly Society in 1875. The prominence of the logo has paid off particularly well in international markets, where Prudential shares a name with local unrelated companies. In these cases, Prudential uses the rock logo with the alternative wording to promote its brand. Prudential Financial, Inc. (NYSE: PRU) is now among the world’s largest financial institutions, operating in more than 40 countries around the world. The company reported total revenue of $41.5 billion at the end of last year.

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9. Peugeot
> Logo first used: 1850
> Company founded: 1810
> Parent company revenue: $54.1 billion
> Industry: Automotive

peugeot logoJustin Blazer, an engraver by trade, designed the original Peugeot trademark in 1847. The logo, originally depicting a lion standing on an arrow, has undergone some modifications — the arrow, for example has been removed, and the lion has changed its pose. The company itself has undergone more considerable changes. Peugeot was initially founded in 1810 as a steel manufacturer. Before becoming one of the world’s most well-known automakers, Peugeot was in the bicycle business. Peugeot is now known as PSA Peugeot Citroen.

10. Johnson & Johnson
> Logo first used: 1887
> Company founded: 1886
> Parent company revenue: $71.3 billion
> Industry: Drug manufacturers

JNJ logoJohnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) — the first company in the U.S. to mass-produce and distribute sterile surgical dressings — was founded in New Brunswick, New Jersey in 1886. The distinctive cursive of the “Johnson & Johnson” logo was modelled after founding brother James Wood Johnson’s written signature the next year. The logo continues to be among the world’s most recognizable images. Johnson & Johnson is now a publicly traded company manufacturing a wide range of medical and consumer products. The company’s products are sold in nearly every country in the world. Last year, the company invested between $20 million and $30 million in a global corporate branding campaign, prominently featuring the company’s long-standing script logo.