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.

Bayer Aspirin bottle

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.

Bayer cross Leverkusen

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.

Bayer cross Leverkusen
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.”

Bayer logo

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.


I really like the Bayer logo and I’m happy that they’ve never changed it (apart from the subtle variations).

Also, I’ve seen many “copies” of the same concept almost everywhere, but everytime I see those I instantly think about Bayer.

I find interesting, and almost strange that they never changed their logo after their associations in ww2. It looks synonymous with the german axis mark of the time.

I am not a fan.. is there a specific reason for the “double” bayer? are there two bayers that founded the company?? … thats what I get from the logo… and especially don’t read pharmaceuticals from it

I like the simplicity of logos that have been around a long time. Today I feel like we try to make logos that are clever and do something that has never been done before (not that that’s necessarily bad). I miss the simple stuff by Iconic Logo Designers :)

Yipes! I didn’t know that about the heroine. Scary!

I like the Bayer Logo, looking good, very recognizeable & easy to get in every Size. What is interesting that the Logo is still alive after such a long time, I think the designer did a very good job.

@ Sean:

Probably the Cross stands for health. It could also be a tablet.

Love it!! Not a fan of the tonal version in the post header on the main page, I kinda have a hate for when logos that work so well in single colour are tweaked using grads and colours to make them feel ‘more’ (if that makes sense?). The huge lit version is scarily impressive.

Sean, I guessed the cross represents health (as in the Red Cross), but I’m unsure.

Al, likewise, the graduation seems unnecessary, but it works well without embellishment.

i think you can recognize this logo very easily, once you see it you will not forget it, and the cross sign gives an idea about health.

actually i was lost and confused when i tried to read (Bayer)

I think this logo is the typical case of work that is now your style but is so widely known and since I have seen it since I can remember that is very much effective. Wherever you see the Bayer logo you recognize the brand immediately, that is what branding is all about => coming through with an image or message.

By the way the part of the article that talks about the heroin bayer waooo! scary what medicine does no?

Thanks for an excellent post!


Some sources say it’s Hans Schneider, others say it’s an “inventor” called Dr Schweizer. Interestingly, and controversially, according to some sources it’s a Turkish graphic designer named Ihap Hulusi Görey as well.

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