Griffin watching over Scania

Griffin watching over Scania

An English bicycle pedal crank from the late 19th century and a griffin that is more than 5000 years old. When they met, Scania’s corporate trademarks was born.

In 1896, the English bicycle manufacturer Humber & Co established a subsidiary in Malmö, in southern Sweden. Four years later this company’s operations were taken over by a newly formed company there known as Maskinfabriksaktiebolaget Scania. To market the company’s name, it was engraved on the handsomely designed sprocket of its bicycles.

But Maskinfabriksaktiebolaget Scania soon decided to broaden its operations to include rubber machines, vacuum cleaning units, precision gearwheels – as well as trucks and cars. The company called itself Scania after the ancient Latin name of Sweden’s southernmost province. The griffin was borrowed from the 15th century coat of arms of the region. The mythical four-footed animal has origins from 3000 BC India, and has the hind legs and tail of a lion and the forelegs, head and wings of an eagle.

In order to expand production of engines and vehicles, in 1910 Scania contacted its competitor Vagnfabriks Aktiebolaget i Södertälje (VABIS) and proposed a merger. VABIS, founded in 1891, manufactured railway carriages as well as cars and trucks. In 1911 a new company, AB Scania-Vabis, took over all operations in Malmö and Södertälje and created a new corporate logotype.

Company officials realised the importance of maintaining a unique identity − a symbol well known to the market – so the pedal crank and griffin were combined with the names Scania and Vabis to create the first company trademark.

In 1969, Scania-Vabis merged with aircraft and car maker Saab to form Saab-Scania AB, and the group decided to switch to using only the letters SCANIA on its trucks and buses.

In 1984, when Saab-Scania reverted to using a trademark as a corporate symbol, the griffin made its long-anticipated comeback. The new symbol was created by artist Carl Fredrik Reuterswärd, best known for his sculpture of a gun with a knotted barrel outside the United Nations buildings in New York. Reuterswärd considered it essential to include a griffin with a golden crown as one of the basic elements of the new Saab-Scania logo – in order to carry on Scania’s trademark tradition.

In May 1995, Scania again became an independent company, and a new Scania symbol was needed – but the griffin had to stay. The first version was rejected, and a working group was given 24 hours to come up with a new proposal. It met the deadline, the Executive Board gave it the green light, and the new Scania symbol was officially adopted.

Scania President and CEO Leif Östling wrote in a letter to all employees: “The symbol is linked to Scania’s long and robust tradition, but meanwhile it has a modern design that feels right for a brand that will stand for continued success in the 21st century. The pedal crank from the Scania-Vabis era has reclaimed its honour. The griffin occupies a central placement, exactly as it has done in the Scania symbols of the past century. It is an old symbol of strength, speed, alertness and courage − qualities that fit today’s Scania well, in my opinion.”

LOGO Timeline


Scania’s first logo consisted of a pedal crank from a bicycle with a griffin head in the middle.


The red griffin head with its golden crown followed in the new logo a decade later when Scania merged with VABIS.


A modernised logo with standardised proportions and colours was created in 1954.


During these 15 years, Scania left the Griffin and instead used the company name spelled out in script as its logo.


During the Saab-Scania era the pedal crank was replaced by spherical rings.


In 1995 the logo with the pedal crank and the griffin was resurrected in a modern form.