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A Sign of the Times: The Story Behind Johnson & Johnson's Iconic Logo

There's a reason the company logo is so recognizable—it's been around for 130 years. We trace its history, starting with the day it first appeared on a company check signed by its founder.
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Talk about standing the test of time: More than 130 years after James Wood Johnson co-founded Johnson & Johnson, his handwritten signature is still being used as the company logo to this day.

In fact, it's one of the longest-used company emblems in the world.

"Johnson & Johnson was founded on the principles of saving and improving lives," says company historian Margaret Gurowitz Circular image Margaret GurowitzChief Historian, Johnson & Johnson . "James Wood Johnson took this mission so seriously that he literally signed the family name to the company's products."

To commemorate the anniversary of the company’s first public listing on the New York Stock Exchange on September 24, 1944, we're taking a look back at how the logo has evolved over the years—including some of the surprising places it has surfaced.

  • First check signed with the iconic signature of Johnson & Johnson

    James Wood Johnson's Famous Signature First Appears

    During the company’s initial year of operation in 1886, co-founder James Wood Johnson signed the first official Johnson & Johnson check made out to a local railroad freight master, including the name of the company written in a similar style.

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  • Image of vintage box of Johnson & Johnson Sublimate Cotton

    A Logo Is Born

    The company's earliest products, which were used in sterile surgical procedures, featured a logo that resembled Johnson's signature, including large loops on some of the letters and the connection of the ampersand to the second "Johnson."

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  • Johnson & Johnson employees sitting on a delivery cart attached to a horse

    Delivery ... By Horse-Drawn Cart

    The company’s logo began to appear on horse-drawn wagons that delivered such products as first aid kits and medicated plasters to local retail customers.

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  • Vintage box of Johnson & Johnson Baby Cream from 1920

    A Logo for Products for Little Ones

    As the company's business grew, Johnson's handwriting was called into service in a different way: It was worked into the package design for products like a new cream for babies.

    "His signature became the inspiration for the logo that appears on Johnson's® Baby products to this day," Gurowitz says.

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  • Tin box of Stars 'n Strips Johnson & Johnson BAND-AIDs

    Logos With Many Looks

    In the first half of the 20th century, products featured logos in a variety styles—some that looked more like the Johnson & Johnson logo in use today (as seen on the BAND-AID® Brand adhesive bandage tin at right), and others that looked more like actual handwriting, explains Gurowitz.

    "But in the 1950s, the company standardized all its packaging to adopt the logo that we see today," she says.

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  • Johnson & Johnson logo in Chinese on white background

    The Logo Appears in Another Language

    When China opened up to Western businesses, the Johnson & Johnson logo appeared in Chinese, such as on the company's consumer products, like BAND-AID® Brand adhesive bandages.

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  • Johnson & Johnson logo made out of lipstick tubes on a wall in an office space

    The Signature Gets Sealed With a Kiss

    In a nod to sustainability, the company fashioned an innovative solution for leftover lipstick containers manufactured for its Neutrogena business: “Lipstick walls” depicting the company logo are now showcased in seven company locations in the U.S., Brazil and China.

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  • Gif of Johnson & Johnson signature being written out

    The Art of Animation

    Johnson & Johnson unveiled an animated version of the logo on its redesigned corporate website, adding a bit of whimsy to the iconic signature.

    Read More
Johnson & Johnson has a virtual museum where you can learn more fun facts about its rich history.
© Albert Vecerka/Esto. All rights reserved.

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