For over 170 years now, the Siemens name has stood worldwide for technical performance, innovation, quality, reliability and internationality. These attributes are also expressed in the company’s trademark. The mark has offered a clear commitment since 1899: Siemens generates trust and added value for customers, employees and society at large.
If you deliver the best, you’ll remain at the top, and I always prefer publicity through performance to an image based on words.Werner von Siemens, 1876
Quality needs no advertising – Siemens shuns advertising at first
In the 19th century, many industrial companies were still operating with sales strategies based on the idea that high product quality all by itself was enough to ensure demand. True to his motto of “publicity through performance,” Werner von Siemens likewise rejected every form of advertising as somewhat less than respectable. Accordingly, in its early years Siemens & Halske preferred to rely mainly on innovative products and attention-getting major projects to attract attention throughout Europe.
The founder likewise attached no particular importance to the visual consistency of his company’s corporate image. Even as competition began to intensify considerably with advances in energy technology at the end of the 1870s, which created the need for a stronger focus on markets and customers, Siemens & Halske was slow to respond to the change in market conditions. After all, as one of the world’s largest players in its industry, the company had enjoyed a dominant position on Germany’s electrical market for decades.
Not until the late 1880s would the company begin advertising its products itself. But as long as Werner von Siemens’ was still alive, there was still no apparent effort to achieve a uniform image – in other words, a corporate identity – or any attempt at unmistakably communicating the “Siemens spirit.” The need for a trademark as a uniform identifier of Siemens products, along with its design and possible uses, did not come up for discussion until a few months after Siemens & Halske had been transformed into a stock corporation, five years after the company founder’s death.
The first trademark – From in-house contest to official registration
In September 1897, corporate management announced “the prospect […] of registering a suitable trademark for our products.” Until then, Siemens products had been identified either with the full company name or with the intertwined letters S and H. Different fonts were used for the company’s name on stationery, signs and printed price lists, as well as sporadic advertisements for heavy-current equipment.
Soon afterwards, a kind of in-house contest was held. The Siemens plants in Berlin and Vienna were invited to submit ideas for the design of a uniform trademark. Among the submitted designs, one from the Charlottenburg plant won out, and a year later, an application for the geometrically configured S&H monogram was filed with the Imperial Patent Office in Berlin.
The application had to specify in detail just what electrical and mechanical instruments, equipment and machines the trademark was to be used for. The mark was then entered in the Patent Office’s register of marks in February 1899, under number 35,800.
Variability gives way to unity – Siemens gets a uniform mark
At this point, together with Siemens & Halske, Siemens comprised two legally independent parent companies, each of which had its own corporate trademark. Ultimately this clear trademark arrangement would grow a great deal more complicated up to the early 1930s, owing to a corporate policy distinguished by concentration and cooperation. Numerous takeovers, investments, mergers and strategic alliances expanded the company’s portfolio of marks to the point that looking back, Hans Domizlaff, an outside advertising consultant for Siemens, would refer to the 1920s and early 1930s as the “trademark chaos of the Protos era.” In that connection, it should be emphasized that despite all the diversification and expansion of the business portfolio, those in charge always insisted that all the activities of this “universal company” should relate directly to its traditional core competences – under the principle of “only electrical engineering, but the full breadth of electrical engineering.” The only departure from this strategic guideline was the takeover of the Protos automotive mark in the fall of 1908.
All the same, despite the uniform corporate and promotional style that Domizlaff had shaped – the SIEMENS word mark together with a monogram set above it was the only remaining identifier for products’ origin – the subsequent decades still saw a juxtaposition of numerous Siemens companies and their monograms. As late as the 1960s, there were still no less than eight different variants of the monogram. This variability of marks ended only with the founding of Siemens AG. In 1966, Siemens & Halske AG, Siemens-Schuckertwerke AG and Siemens-Reiniger-Werke AG were combined into a stock corporation with a single company mark – now the word mark and just one monogram with the intertwined letters H and S. But these now stood not for “Siemens & Halske” but for the “House of Siemens.” Thus the trademark registered in 1899 remained an integral part of the new Siemens AG for a time. Not until 1973 would the monogram finally vanish from the company mark, and only the SIEMENS name remained.
The development of the company logo – New design, new color
The company’s current logo was developed by graphics designer Pierre Mendell in 1991. It has appeared in this new design ever since and, preferably, in a bright shade of petrol blue that lends it consistency and uniqueness. In exceptional, precisely defined cases, the SIEMENS logo can also appear in black or white. Its original shape and original color are protected worldwide. Modifications and distortions are prohibited.
Nearly ten years later, Siemens introduced a new brand policy – for two main reasons. First, brand studies had indicated that there was a discrepancy between the positive impact that the SIEMENS logo was intended to produce and the way the company was actually perceived by the general public – namely, as a nondescript “gray planet.” Second, Siemens’ brand identity was not consistent. It differed, for example, from one company business to another. In the future, the SIEMENS logo was to have greater emotional appeal and express the company traits innovative, flexible, fast, curious, reliable, human, far-sighted, expert and global. Use of the claim “Global network of innovation” emphasized that Siemens was active in nearly every country in the world, that it had developed into an e-business enterprise and that innovation had been playing a key role at the company ever since 1847. The new brand policy also included the introduction of a typeface comprising the Siemens Sans, Siemens Serif and Siemens Slab fonts that Jürg Hunziker, a type designer from Switzerland, had crafted for the company’s exclusive use.
Ingenuity for life – The company’s aspiration and self-image
On the occasion of its founder’s 200th birthday, Siemens introduced the claim “Ingenuity for life,” which advanced to become an integral part of the SIEMENS logo. The new brand identity was officially launched at the 50th Annual Shareholders’ Meeting of Siemens AG in Munich’s Olympiahalle on January 26, 2016. Initially rolled out in Germany in the fall of 2016, the claim was subsequently introduced worldwide. Since 2017, Siemens’ comprehensive brand identity has also included an unmistakable brand sound, which makes it possible to experience the brand claim’s content in acoustic form. “Ingenuity for life” expresses Siemens’ aspiration and self-image as a company whose engineering prowess and innovative power generate value for customers, employees and society. The claim also expresses the Siemens mission of making real what matters.
“Werner von Siemens spoke of the importance of putting ‘inventiveness’ to use for the benefit of humanity. He also spoke of the ‘greater good’ as a ‘higher law.’ We’ve summarized what it means to serve the greater good – that is, society – in three words: ‘Ingenuity for life.’”Joe Kaeser, 2016