Perhaps one of the most recognisable icons in the world, the Starbucks’ lady is a welcome sight for coffee lovers! Steeped in Greek mythology, the original logo was a “twin-tailed mermaid”, or siren that lured sailors to shipwreck. With origins in coffee too, Lloyd’s Register has its own lady with an air of mystery. Although in use for over two centuries – we still don’t know exactly who she is!
Affectionately known as the “Ladybadge” she has been compared to Pallas Athene, the Greek goddess of wisdom. Or could she be based on Britannia, who traditionally dominated the seas? In which case our lady may be based upon Britannia’s inspiration, Lady Frances Stuart, King Charles II’s mistress!
Beginning as a siren, the first Ladybadge appeared in 1799, with an anchor and the Register Book beneath an all-seeing eye, a nice touch for a society looking out for risks! The design changed radically when Lloyd’s Register was re-constituted in 1834. The nymph replaced by a full-scale goddess, and the ship, previously heading for the rocks, now safely sailing away. This became the most famous style of Ladybadge and was used on the cover of the Register of Ships until 1975.
Over the years the Ladybadge was redrawn several times including by Harry Cornish (Chief Ship Surveyor), Ernest Hicks Oliver (Editor of the Register of Yachts), Eric Fraser (a well-known British illustrator), and by Reynolds Stone (illustrator and engraver). Fraser’s version was dubbed ‘the naughty lady’ as in upholding Classical Greek tradition, her left breast was bared, symbolising succour to those in need. If the Ladybadge is indeed based on Pallas Athene, it explains why Cornish clothed her in Greek costume and breastplate with a caduceus (Mercury’s wand), the only concession being to replace her helmet with a modern mural crown- symbolic of the City of London.
The lady also appears on our Coat of Arms incorporated in 1958, together with our first symbol from 1775, an anchor, representing hope, security, and strength – an appropriate badge for a ship classification society! She also holds an open scroll symbolising the sharing of knowledge.
One Ladybadge from the 1950s is shrouded in mystery. She just appeared during the time of Sir Kenneth Pelly’s chairmanship. His secretary offered him a choice between the old or new notepaper, “Which version do you prefer” she asked flustered, “the fat lady or the thin lady?”. This version was adapted in 1970 by Graham Pumphrey, Chief Technical Illustrator. The lady remained unchanged, but the anchor chain and legend were adapted and our 1760 origins emphasised. The Ladybadge was revamped again in the 1980s, with a new larger font style accentuating the foundation date
Just as the Starbucks’ lady has evolved for the modern age, so too has our logo. Today it takes inspiration from the Lloyd’s Register (LR) steel testing stamp – the brand that surveyors stamped into steel as proof of approval from 1884. It is a logo drawn from a long heritage yet designed for the digital age.