The Bayer Cross, symbol of the Bayer Group that was founded more than 150 years ago, is one of the world’s best-known trademarks. It was registered in the patent register more than 100 years ago, on January 6, 1904. Initially, the Cross was registered for use for “medications for people and animals, disinfectants, preservatives, tar dyes, and chemical preparations for dyeing and photographic purposes.” Since 1914 it has also been used for the company’s crop protection products.
No other product did more to make the Bayer name famous than Aspirin, developed by Felix Hoffmann and launched onto the market in 1899.
And it was a sign of the times (1898) that the American Medical Association approved the selling and use of heroin, marketed as a non-addictive morphine substitute.
“When reports of extreme addiction become known, Bayer acknowledged its blunder and stopped making the medicine in 1913. But for the next decade, heroin lozenges, heroin elixirs, and heroin tablets continued to dominate the market.” Source
Since 1958 an illuminated version of the logo has acted as a Leverkusen landmark, lighting up the skyline where Bayer is headquartered.
It hangs on two 118-metre steel towers and possesses a diameter of 51 metres and a weight of 300 tons. It takes 1,712 40-Watt bulbs to light the display. In 2003, the Bayer cross was overhauled completely.
Image via Flickr
It’s not clear exactly who designed the Bayer Cross as the company’s archives contain two different versions of its origins. One ascribes the initial idea to Hans Schneider, who worked in the Scientific Department in Elberfeld, Germany. An eye-witness wrote: “It was in 1900. While I was discussing a few things with him [Hans Schneider], he wrote the word Bayer in capital letters on a piece of paper – once horizontally and then again vertically. The result was the Bayer Cross. He tore the page from his notepad, excused himself and took his sketch to the management, where it was greatly admired.”
The second version names Dr Schweizer as the “inventor” of the Bayer Cross. Schweizer worked in Bayer’s New York office in the 1890s. His job was to interest American physicians’ in the products from Germany. Apparently, the company’s long name at that time — Farbenfabriken vormals Friedr. Bayer & Co., Elberfeld — made communication difficult so Schweizer developed an eye-catching company stamp in the form of the cross that is now so well-known. The cross also received approbation from the company’s headquarters in Elberfeld.
More logo history on the Bayer website.