Everyone knows the bright red Canon logo that we see plastered on the top of every camera or lens we buy. Ever wonder how they came up with that brand name?
Canon initially began as Precision Optical Instruments Laboratory in 1933. When the company began manufacturing cameras on a trial basis, it named them “Kwanon”, which was the name of the Buddist Goddess of Mercy. The name “embodied the Company’s vision of creating the best cameras in the world.”
In fact, the initial Kwanon logo included an image of the goddess with 1,000 arms and flames (seen above).
In 1934, the young company produced Japan’s first 35mm focal-plane-shutter prototype camera. In 1935, the company registered the name “Canon” as a trademark that would be more acceptable to a worldwide market as it started to move toward full-scale production. The name “Canon” still carried with it a very positive connotation via a number of different meanings including, scriptures, criterion and standard.
A designer specializing in advertising created the original Canon logo in 1935. The “C” was unique in that its top end curved inward, ending in a sharp point. This style of typeface did not then exist in Europe or North America. The Canon name and logo were created to reflect the Company’s global perspectives, which it adopted right from the beginning of its history. -Canon.com
The same year, the Hansa Canon 35mm focal-plane-shutter went into production and the Canon brand first landed on a camera.
The company was founded as Precision Optical Industry, Co., Ltd. in 1937 and did not become Canon Camera Co., Inc. until 1947. It wasn’t until 1969 that the company became the Canon Inc. that we know today.
Over the years, the Canon logo evolved from a simple type to the instantly recognizable, bold “Canon” logo we know today. The current logo has been in use since 1956 without further change.
[via Japan Camera Hunter]