Tool Branding History
The history of tool brand names goes back to ancient times. In fact, it was not until the middle ages that they were used in any significant way. There are several reasons why tool makers did not use tool brand names. One reason is because many people would have difficulty remembering them all, especially if they had never seen one before. Another reason is that tool makers did not want their competitors to steal their trade secrets.
For example, the first electric drill was invented by Thomas Edison in 1877. By the time it became commercially available in 1903, it bore no resemblance to its original design. Edison’s invention was patented and sold under a different name: “Edison Drill.” The same thing happened with other inventions such as the phonograph or the automobile. The inventor kept his secret and the public was left in the dark. However, when someone else copied the idea, everyone knew what it really looked like.
Inventors often tried to protect their ideas by making up new words or creating a symbol that represented them. Some of these symbols included letters from Greek mythology (e.g., ΦΙ), Roman numerals (i.e., I – V) and even animal icons (such as lions).
In some cases, the inventor created a brand name for their new invention. In other cases, the tool company owner decided to name it himself. Whether or not the brand name was created by the inventor or the company owner, the people making the tools were nearly always anonymous. This was a deliberate decision intended to keep their identities a secret so that they could continue making tools for other companies.
The idea of using symbols on tools was very popular in ancient times. Craftsmen used them as trade secrets. Other symbols were used to signify quality and value of the tool. Some of these symbols are still in use today.
Logos and Their Meanings
A simple logo, depending on its design, can symbolize a number of different things: from the name of the company to the purpose of the tool. Over time, they become an indentification mark for consumers and a symbol of quality for other professionals. Here are a few examples of common tool company logos and their meanings.
The Black and Red “B+”
This is one of the most popular logos. In fact, it’s probably fair to say that it’s the logo that started it all. Established in 1923, the Bonnett Company (which later became Badaxe) first used this logo. It consists of two black axes crossed at a diagonal with a red “B+” superimposed upon it. The “B+” does not stand for anything; it is simply the founder’s name, Bonnett.
The axes signify that this tool company makes axes, or hatchets.
The Blue “W”
This logo is one of the oldest in the industry and is used one of the biggest tool companies: the Ward Company. This logo consists of a simple blue “W” with two semicircular blades coming off of it. The “W” stands for Ward, while the blades signify bladesmithing and the axe.
The Green and Yellow “G+”
This logo is very similar to the “B+”, except it uses a wrench instead of an “x”. The Greenlee Company uses this logo. It consists of a green “G” superimposed upon a yellow wrench. The “G” stands for Greenlee, while the wrench signifies their tool production.
The Black and Red “A+”
Lastly, we have the Axtren Corporation’s logo: a black and red “A+”. This logo consists of a simple “+” with two blades coming off of it. The “A” stands for Axtren, while the blades signify bladesmithing and the axe.
Now that you know some of the secrets behind the tools you use every day, you may find yourself looking at them in a whole new light. As you gaze upon that crowbar you use for prying open crates, you will always remember that its logo stands for the Zeebarth Tool Company. Or, when you pull a rusty old hammer out of your toolbox, you will be able to tell your coworkers that the hammer’s logo stands for the Farbley Forge Company. You may even try to impress them by pointing out that the hammer also signifies the forging of steel.
Maybe one day your own tool will have its own logo and symbolize you!
Sources & references used in this article:
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