After receiving a charter by royal approval from Queen Elizabeth I on the 31st December 1600 the ‘Company of Merchants of London trading into the East Indies’ came into being. It quickly developed a range of icons to help identify itself. In doing so it created the world’s first global corporate brand.
THE MERCHANT’S MARK
Soon after its creation the company began to use a “balemark” – an essential identifier for its products as they arrived in busy ports or were sold on the trading floor. Initially a simple mark this evolved by the 1700s into a heart shaped figure surmounted by a figure of four and containing the initials of the company. This symbol became known as “the chop”, a word derived from the Hindi छाप ćhāp – which means stamp. The chop was not only a mark of ownership showing that products were from The East India Company, it also became a symbol of the quality of those wares.
THE COAT OF ARMS
The East India Company was also granted a Coat of Arms under the direct instructions from Queen Elizabeth I to William Camden alias Clarencieux, Garter Principal of the King of Arms. It was provided as a symbol of her confidence and also so that The Company would be recognised as having her royal patronage. The original declaration provided by the Queen herself, with detailed instructions of the elements to be incorporated, resides to this day in the Collection of documents at The College of Arms.
The Coat of Arms features waving St. George pennants and sea lions supporting a shield featuring ships and roses. The ships have open sails and are facing East, signifying that they have a favourable wind and are journeying to the colonies and the roses signify England. There is a smaller field of Lions and Fleur De Lys. On top there is a blue Globe signifying the world, and above and beneath there is a banner displaying The Company’s Latin Motto:
“Deus Indicat. Deo Ducente Nil Nocet.”
(God is our leader. When God leads, nothing can harm.)