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At the beginning of 1876, Werner von Siemens wrote to the company's representative in Brussels: "If you deliver the best, you'll remain at the top, and I always prefer publicity through performance to an image based on words." In keeping with this view, the pioneering company built its Europe-wide reputation primarily through innovative products and spectacular large-scale projects. The company's founder categorically rejected sales-boosting measures like billboard and newspaper advertising as disreputable and unworthy of the Telegraphen-Bauanstalt. Even when progress in the area of energy technology at the end of the 1870s noticeably increased competition and created the need for a stronger focus on markets and customers, Siemens & Halske (S&H) was slow to react to the changed 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.
In accordance with this perception of the company, no importance was attached to the visual consistency of Siemens & Halske's corporate image. During Werner von Siemens' lifetime, no visible efforts were made to achieve a uniform image or to communicate the corporate identity which he personally shaped. A discussion of the necessity, design and possible uses of a trademark as a uniform designation for Siemens products did not ensue until five years after the death of the electrical engineering pioneer and a few months after Siemens & Halske had been transformed into a publicly owned company.
At the beginning of September 1897, the board of directors addressed "the prospect […] of registering a suitable trademark for the products." Until then, Siemens & Halske's electrical engineering products had been marked either with the full company name or with the intertwined letters S and H. Different fonts were used to depict the company's name on stationery, signs and printed price lists as well as sporadic advertisements for heavy-current equipment.
Shortly thereafter, a kind of internal competition was held, with the plants in Charlottenburg, Berlin and Vienna being invited to submit proposals for the design of a uniform trademark. In November 1897, after considering the entries, the members of the board of directors chose the design proposal from the Charlottenburg plant; the archives contain no record of how and in accordance with which criteria the individual proposals were evaluated.
A year later, a patent application was filed for the geometrically designed S&H monogram at the imperial patent office in Berlin. The electrical and mechanical instruments, apparatuses and machines for which the trademark was to be used had to be precisely specified on the application. On February 2, 1899, the mark was entered in the trademark registry of the patent office under the number 35.800. From that moment on, the trademark served not only as proof of origin for a clearly defined range of goods but was also used on business stationery, price lists and other printed materials. Unlike today, there were not yet any binding regulations for the size and location of the mark.
During the decades that followed, the use of this oldest trademark of the Siemens group was repeatedly adapted to encompass additional product groups and increase the scope of protection in European countries other than Germany. The same applies to the trademark of the company Siemens-Schuckertwerke GmbH (SSW), which was founded in March 1903. The graphic design of the SSW trademark is highly reminiscent of the S&H monogram.
The S&H monogram, which was registered in 1899 – and as of 1936 always appeared in combination with the Siemens wordmark – was in use until 1973.