One of the country’s most recognized corporate symbols, the leaping deer trademark has been synonymous with quality John Deere products for more than 120 years.
The first trademark using the leaping deer was registered in 1876, although registration papers indicate the mark had been used for the previous three years. John Deere was well established in Moline by this time, his company producing more than 60,000 plows a year. They were commonly referred to as Moline plows because of the factory location and the need for an official registered trademark became apparent. An official trademark was also the only means that could provide positive protection against copying and deception.
That first trademark shows a deer bounding over a log, the words "John Deere" above and the words "Moline, Ill." beneath the figure. It is interesting to note that this original trademark represented a type of deer common to Africa, and only in future trademarks was the native North American white-tailed deer portrayed.
Between 1876 and the early 1900s, the company grew dramatically. Several non-competing factories, manufacturing a variety of distinctive agricultural implements were acquired by Deere & Company during this period. A new trademark was needed to reflect the company’s expansion, while providing uniformity for its burgeoning product line.
Hence, the second John Deere trademark was registered in 1912. The deer continued to be shown leaping over a log, with the words "John Deere" arching above and "Moline, Ill." below the deer, much like the original. There was a lot more detail and definition drawn into the animal in this version. The slogan "The Trade Mark of Quality Made Famous by Good Implements" first appears here, extending across the bottom.
The next change was registered in 1936 after the company’s Standardization Committee noted a need to "to better adapt the trademark for stenciling on products." The deer became a solid silhouette removing all the detail from its predecessor. This change combined with the outstretched legs provided a stronger more recognizable profile. This period marked the height of sales for the model A, B, and D tractors and Deere was aggressively trying to dominate the market. A uniquely shaped angular border was added around the leaping deer. The antlers were changed slightly and the words, "John Deere, Moline, Ill." remained in the same position but were made somewhat bolder. The slogan below it all stayed unchanged.
It’s important to note that the dates associated with these trademarks represent official patent registration. In actuality, many designs were adopted by the company and used for several years before they became official.
Just one year later, in 1937, another trademark was introduced, marking an even more simplified solution. Deere & Company was more diversified than ever. There were now more major John Deere products and more places to use the trademark, which undoubtedly prompted the update. Perhaps the fact that 1937 marked the company’s centennial was another factor in the change. The typography and animal remained undisturbed, but the slogan and border disappeared.
The next official change in the trademark came in 1950 and represented a breakthrough in many respects. First, the antlers of the deer were turned forward, the tail was pointed upward to resemble the white-tailed deer, and no longer was it shown bounding over a log. The words "John Deere," now in a bolder square-serif font, although still arched were raised to avoid the prior separation by the head and antlers. A new slogan – "Quality Farm Equipment" was set in a bold sans serif typeface and reversed out of the ground beneath the deer. The words "Moline, Ill." have also been dropped – a change long overdue due to increasing diversification throughout the world. A surrounding border reappeared – a four-sided shape with flat sides and curves top and bottom to unify and contain the elements of the trademark.
The 1956 trademark, which came into use but wasn’t actually registered until 1962, represents yet again the call for a simpler design. The slogan "Quality Farm Equipment" was dropped. By then, John Deere was established in the construction equipment industry, and contractors and loggers became familiar with yellow and black machines bearing the symbol. A radius was given to the corners of the border and a slight curve was added to all four sides of the ellipse. The words "John Deere" were placed below the leaping deer for the first time and set in a more modern, sans serif letter style. The deer itself was left relatively unchanged: legs extended, antlers forward.
A more clean-cut, contemporary look marked the revision in 1968. A Company memo noted "the new trademark is in keeping with the progress being made throughout all divisions of the Company ... it provides for better reproduction and greater readability under a wider range of usage." The design was modernized and streamlined to show a straight-side silhouette with just two legs, instead of the four, and one four-point rack of antlers. The "John Deere" logotype was changed using a hand-modified version based on the Helvetica font. The width of the ellipse border was narrowed and the size ratio of the deer inside it increased.
Today, 32 years later, John Deere unveils the latest evolution in the John Deere brand, the eighth such logo in the company’s 163-year history. The updated mark is true to the strong positive associations inherent in the revered John Deere name and symbol. Yet its sharpened antlers, angles, muscularity and attitude give the trademark an energized and dynamic edge. Coincidentally, after being perceived for decades as the "leaping deer", this latest version, for the first time, actually illustrates the deer pushing upward rather than heading toward a landing position – a positive attribute noticed almost unanimously by all who participated in the recent identity review, research, and approval process.
Throughout the years, refinements to the trademarks have reflected what the company was about at that point in time and what it saw as important to its future. Since the mark was last revised, John Deere has grown from being predominately an agricultural equipment company with primary operations in the U.S. to its current status as a global organization with interests in a wide range of businesses, from finance to heavy machinery to consumer goods to specialized technology solutions.
The update is symbolic of John Deere’s determination to stay focused on being the premier company in its industries worldwide, while remaining firmly rooted in its basic values of quality, innovation, integrity and commitment.
In an effort to more accurately reflect John Deere today, the timeless symbol has been modernized to show the company’s global strength, willingness to embrace new opportunities,
and commitment to adopting new technologies for customer satisfaction.
The style and shape of this updated logo is reflective of today’s technology world: bolder, stronger, high technology oriented. In the symbol itself, the deer’s feet are rooted firmly into the ground for a strong leap into the new millennium. The body, head and antlers have a purposeful attitude, a sense of direction and a clear commitment to taking charge by running smart.
The mark depicts what John Deere Brand means today – proud of its past and preserving and building upon its heritage, but simultaneously looking out on the horizon, for new opportunities. With this modernized leaping deer, John Deere moves forward into the new millennium with confidence and power.