Celebrating 100 Years of the Austin "Pretzel" Logo

I once had a marketing consultant I respected greatly tell me “the brand specifics really don’t matter that much; you can make your name and logo whatever you want and then build a story and a reputation behind it.” He followed this by providing several examples of solid brands with little thought behind their original logo, or who’s operations today bare little relation to their original purpose or branding. And yet, the brands remain strong through company performance, their products, and the values built around the brand.

At Austin, our performance, reputation and values were built first. The Austin logo was developed with a significant amount of thought and meaning. Austin’s branding –our logo – was created to help tell the story that was already in place, and that story continues today.

For many, when we first saw The Austin Company logo we spent a bit of time trying to figure it out. We could see the “A” for Austin maybe, but what about the rest of it? Where was the “C” or “Co” for company? Eventually, we would give up and move on, until someone shared the Austin logo story with us later.

The Austin logo – the “pretzel” – was diligently thought-out by our founder, his son, and some of the original team members of Austin. The design is an “A” and an “M,” representing The Austin Method®The Austin Method® being the first and most critical of many innovations brought to our industry by The Austin Company – and what launched the Company into becoming a contractor powerhouse across the United States and globally.

The word “Method” was chosen by Samuel and Wilbert Austin to pay homage to their strong roots in, and respect for, the values of the Methodist Church. The logo was styled to resemble “Alpha” and “Omega” – the first and last letters in the Greek alphabet – paying homage to The Austin Company’s unique approach for taking ownership, providing accountability and responsibility for the successful delivery of projects from beginning to end. The Alpha and Omega is also another reflection of the Austin family’s deep connection to their religion and core values. Basic values instilled in them through their faith, and that they wanted to be sure were applied to the way business was conducted at their company. The spacing, sizing and layout were also diligently thought out, and as you have seen around our office, were formally laid out in a diagram for official trademark on today’s date 100 years ago – February 20, 1917.

While versions of the “Austin pretzel” logo had been in use since the early 1900s, in 1917 it was critical for Austin to secure its position and brand. The Company had been achieving significant growth in the several years leading up to the detailed layout of our logo in that design, and to Samuel and Wilbert changing the name of the company from The Samuel Austin & Son Company (which was still the name on February 20, 1917, as you can see on the trademark diagram) to The Austin Company in October 1917.

Our founders laid the groundwork for our brand, for this great company. In that simple logo they embedded methodology and procedures (consistency in practice), innovation, ownership and accountability, commitment to family, honesty, integrity, fairness, and doing unto others as we would have them do unto us. Then over the past 100 years they, and many other teams of people since them – including all of us here today – went about backing up and building on that brand and those commitments with our performance and our leadership in the community and industry.

We are proud of our legacy, our work, our team, and our values, all of which are represented in our brand, and we represent that brand in everything we do - every day. We continue to live the Austin logo story and Austin legacy today. 

Some interesting side facts: First versions of a Austin Method logo are documented as early as 1903. Although the “Diagram of Austin Trademark” drawing is dated 1917, the first formal approval of Austin’s trademark by the U.S. patent and trademark office is recorded as 1923 – so it appears it took our predecessors a little bit of time to file and get formal approval / registration of the mark. Calling our logo “the pretzel” is not a modern invention; company newsletters as far back as 1926 refer to the company logo as “the pretzel” or “our beloved pretzel”.