Jaguar is without doubt one of the most iconic brands in the world. Its sleek, powerful vehicles aren’t just status symbols, they’re among the best cars around. But what’s a great brand without a great logo? And the Jaguar emblem is most certainly that. As jaguarmonmouth.com comments, there’s something about the sight of that mighty, jumping cat that captures the imagination… something that may explain why it’s been left almost unchanged for the best part of 70 years. But where did it come from? What team of marketing geniuses decided a leaping cat would be the best way to represent a car manufacturer? Prepare to find out the answers (and more besides) as we take a look at the history and story of the Jaguar logo.
Jaguar may be a world-famous brand today, but back when it started, it was a small British automotive company with a focus on motorcycle sidecars and a very different name. Born as Swallow Sidecar Company in 1922, the company was founded by two bright young things called William Walmsley and William Lyons. In 1934, Walmsley decided he’d had enough of making side cars and decided to sell-out. Lyons, on the other hand, saw a future in his creations, if not in the company (which was liquidated shortly afterwards). After selling shares on the public market, Lyons rebranded the Swallow business as S.S. Cars Limited. A year later, the name ‘Jaguar’ was flouted for the first time with the release of the SS Jaguar sedan, a joint venture with chassis producer Standard Motor Company. At that point, the company symbol was a very different proposition to the one it is today, showcasing as it did the letters ‘SS’ in a hexagon surrounded by a bird’s wing and tail. And thus, the company continued… until the second world war happened and the ‘SS’ name and logo suddenly took on some very unfortunate connotations. By 1945, the bosses at S.S. Cars Limited were no doubt fed up of being confused with a very different kind of SS; after a general meeting with the shareholders, it was decided to change the company’s name to Jaguar Cars Limited. “Unlike S. S. the name Jaguar is distinctive and cannot be connected or confused with any similar foreign name,” chairman and founder William Lyons noted.
The Birth of the Jaguar Logo
What better excuse for a logo refresh than a change in name? With the advent of the Jaguar rebranding came an all-new (and frankly, far superior) identity for the company formerly known as S.S. The swallow logo was dropped and, in its place, we got two new emblems: a leaping jaguar and a round logo with the roaring face of a jaguar. From the off, the logo went down a storm with fans, representing as it did the same grace, strength and speed that had made the brand’s cars so desirable. For the past 70 years, the leaping cat has remained largely untouched- and for good reason. As the bigwigs at Jaguar are no doubt aware, you don’t mess with a classic, especially when that classic has made your brand one of the most recognized (and respected) in the world.
What’s a good logo without a good color scheme? As beautiful as the jaguar logo is, it would likely be a very different thing (as, indeed, would the company’s reputation), if it’d been rendered in shocking pink. Fortunately, Jaguar dedicated to go a more classic route when it came to choosing their hues. As jaguardarien.com notes, the exact colors you’ll see depend on the positioning of the logo:
The Leaping Jaguar – Initially introduced as a hood ornament but since re-configured as a badge, the leaping jaguar logo features a sleek, snarling silver jaguar cat in mid-leap. Expect to see a classic combination of silver, metallic gray, and black. The Roaring Jaguar – The roaring jaguar emblem was first introduced as a gold jaguar with a red background and a black border. It’s since been refreshed to feature a circular emblem with a red background, a silver border, and front-facing silver jaguar cat.
Some logos are ambiguous, allowing customers to apply the own interpretation to whatever the marketing team secretly intended. The Jaguar logo, on the other hand, is relatively straightforward. Try as you might, there’s not many ways you can interpret a leaping, powerful beast, especially when that beast bears the same name as the company itself. Jaguars are known for their grace, their strength, and their power… as, indeed, are Jaguar cars.
No mystery there, then. But what about the colors Jaguar have chosen for their spirit animal? Do they have a deeper meaning? Of course they do… you wouldn’t expect a major brand to take a pick and mix approach to colors, especially when those same colors will be featured on each and every one of their super-luxe creations, would you? According to jaguarmissionviejo.com, the silver and metallic colors used on the leaping jaguar emblem represent sophistication and modernity, while the black represents integrity and performance. The punch of red used on the round logo of the roaring jaguar, meanwhile, is intended to represent Jaguar’s passion for driving and sports car culture. Wise choices, in that case, and ones that certainly achieve the desired effect.
The Jaguar Logo Through the Ages
Other companies seem to change their logo almost as often as they change their stock. Not so Jaguar. Despite a few minor changes along the way, the company’s emblem has remained almost unchanged for over 70 years. Well, we say ‘unchanged’… as car-brand-names.com notes, some of the (very minor) changes that eagle -eyed Jaguar aficionados may have noticed over the years include the replacement of the chrome-plated Jaguar hood ornament with the growling face of a jaguar on the front grill (apparently, the hood ornament was giving the Health and Safety brigade too many concerns to survive the 2000s) and a slight revision of the leaping jaguar in printed media to change it from a thickly outlined beast to a three-dimensional silver, metallic grey, and black figure on a white or black background.
But changes or no changes, the logo today is still instantly recognizable as the same logo that was designed all the way back in 1945. Longevity isn’t always a sign of something marvelous, but like we said before, you don’t mess with a classic – something that snarling jaguar most definitely is.