A logo is the first visual sign that identifies and characterizes a brand or company. It typically includes three elements: typeface, colours and graphics. A good logo is unique, specific, coherent, timeless and usable across all mediums of communication. It enhances the company’s image, is clearly legible and conveys the values the company wants to promote.
In the days when Dawes chose the black Percheron to distinguish its Black Horse beer from competing products, the word “logo” had not yet been coined. And yet the Percheron image seems to have been used in a logo-like manner in some cases. On all distribution and packaging materials (cases, bottles, caps), the black horse systematically appeared in full profile.
But on calendars and tavern posters and in ads, the Percheron was depicted from various angles. The style was always realistic and the horse was often shown in action, pulling a plow or a delivery wagon, for example. In these cases, it was emblematic of the brand, rather than a logo. In rare instances, only the head was shown.
By consistently betting on the black Percheron’s easily recognizable image, the Black Horse brand managed to stand out in the sea of advertising. The massive black horse soon became the visual reference for both the brand and the brewery. As an emblem, it ensured excellent visibility at trade shows and on grocery store shelves.
The Black Percheron: Proud and Powerful
The Black Horse Percheron was usually pictured as a powerful, robust, vigorous working animal. In most of the ads, it was shown in the everyday activities for which it was famed. The company chose to represent the horse as an indispensable driving force. When consumers chose a beer, they were identifying with the values that the brand conveyed. The choice and visual treatment of the black Percheron referred to traditional values like work and sturdiness, and to pride, when the horses appeared parading with braided, decorated mane and tail. The image and, even more so, the presence of those champion horses at fairs were synonymous with competence, victory and success.
Some companies use a horse as a logo or emblem but promote different values. This is the case of Ford, whose galloping steed with wind-swept mane evokes the freedom said to come with driving a Mustang. The same is true of Ferrari’s prancing stallion, which symbolizes spirit and speed.