Not only a beer but a pioneer in the realm of corporate identity and logo design, Bass—the brand name and logo—was the very first trademark to be registered under the U.K.’s Trade Mark Registration Act of 1875.
Established in 1777 by William Bass in England, the Bass Brewery grew into one the largest beer companies in the U.K. by the end of the 19th century, with over 1,500,000 barrels of beer produced annually. Bass was eventually included in the inaugural FT 30 index established by the London Stock Exchange in 1935, signifying the brewery as one of the top 30 companies in the U.K.
It was a Bass employee who rang in the New Year by waiting in line outside the registrar’s office to ensure that the company became the first to file a trademark when the office opened on the morning of January 1, 1876.
A testament to the Bass logo’s vital simplicity, the red triangle has been immortalized in a number of monumental modernist works of art, including several Pablo Picasso paintings and collages; Édouard Manet’s 1882 painting Bar at the Folies-Bergère, and James Joyce’s Ulysses.
Specifically, the logo’s distinct color and the compelling—even mesmerizing—nature of Bass branding are celebrated in chapter 14 of Joyce’s epic novel accordingly: “During the past four minutes or thereabouts he had been staring hard at a certain amount of number one Bass bottled by Messrs Bass and Co at Burton-on-Trent which happened to be situated amongst a lot of others right opposite to where he was and which was certainly calculated to attract anyone’s remark on account of its scarlet appearance.”
Today, the Bass pale ale brand is part of the Anheuser-Busch InBev brewing company—the largest in the world—and is available on draught and in bottles and cans in over 50 countries.
But even in the 19th century, thanks to the Bass company’s shrewd, trailblazing marketing practices, the beer and brand were enjoyed internationally—as pointed out in James Hogg’s 1884 book Fortunes Made In Business: “You meet the refreshing label up among Alpine glaciers, and down in the cafes of the Bosphorus; among the gondolas of the Grand Canal at Venice, the dahabeahs at the first cataract on the Nile, and the junks of China.” How’s that for creating a global presence! Clearly, Bass is a brand that has long emphasized the importance of breaking new ground in all facets of its business practice.