Notes on the Use of Corporate Arms
Information Leaflet No. 1
COURT OF THE LORD LYON
I. BY THE COMPANY
The arms may be used by the
company in any way or situation it chooses in order to
signify the company’s identity. In commercial terms, in the
ways in which a trade-mark or "company image" device is
The arms may be shown on a
shield, both to signify the company’s identity and to mark
the company’s property, eg. the shield may be displayed on
all letter-headings, stationary, doors, buildings, vehicles,
gates, tools, packagings, etc. either in colour or in a
simplified black and white version clearly intended to
represent the coloured original, as for example in a stamp
or branding iron.
The company’s name may accompany
the shield or not, at the company’s discretion, but it must
not be added to the shield by printing it across or within
it as this defaces or alters the arms. In effect, the
company’s arms are a visual equivalent of the company’s
name, and can properly be used in any situation where the
display of the company’s name would be appropriate. Thus it
is perfectly correct to use the arms to mark the company’s
products, either in association with the company’s name or
not, as with a trade-mark.
It is perfectly correct for the
company to display its arms upon shapes other than a shield,
where this may have some special purpose. A company flag,
for example, shows the company’s arms on a rectangular shape
instead of a shield, but flags are dealt with later in
this note. A rectangle, square, roundel, triangle or
free shape are all appropriate and correct shapes for the
display of arms, but the use of a diamond (rhombus) shape
should be avoided as this shape is reserved in heraldic
usage for the display of arms borne by a female.
Where a shape other than a
shield is used, the elements of the coat of arms should fill
the entire shape to its edges, just as they fill the shield.
Leaving a space around the edge would imply that the
original arms had a border of that colour.
COLOURS: There are no "authentic
heraldic colours". Any red is red to a herald, provided it
is clearly red and does not verge on purple or orange - or
pink! "Crimson" and "Vermilion" are both "Red" heraldically,
so a great deal of latitude is allowed to the owner of a
coat of arms in the tints he uses to colour it. In general,
the strongest and brightest tints of any particular colour
will be found the most suitable. This sounds as though it
would produce a garish result, but in practice it turns out
otherwise. The heraldic rules about the juxtaposition of
colours prevent garish effects - usually. Colours are
usually shown in a plain flat application, matt or glossy at
the owner’s choice. But they can also be varied in texture,
particularly the metallic colours (treated later) at the
owner’s choice, and this is often very useful where a large
area is being coloured.
METALS: This is the heraldic
term for gold and silver. These can be shown conventionally
as white or yellow, entirely as preferred. Silver can also
be shown as any of the "white" metals, such as aluminium,
stainless steel, nickel, chrome, etc., either in bright or
HOUSE COLOURS: The two main
colours, ie. the most prominently used, in a coat of arms
are available for use as "House Colours" or Livery Colours.
One of these is always the colour of the background of the
coat of arms, and the other is that which appears in the
largest quantity. It is correct and appropriate for the
company to use these in every suitable way as its House
Colours, eg. in furnishings, carpets (which can also display
the coat of arms), curtains, uniforms (eg. chauffeurs,
guards, commissionaires), overalls, and as colours for the
works sports teams. It must be clear, however, that the
works football club is using the company’s colours,
not the football club’s colours. Any of the company’s
buildings, vehicles, or property in general can be painted
in the House Colours.
II. BY THE PERSONNEL
(a) BY THE MANAGEMENT
COMPANY SEALS: These correctly
show the company’s arms on a shield in the centre, usually
surrounded by a circlet bearing the company’s name. The
usual restrictions on the use of any company seal apply to
heraldic ones. Expert advice should be taken on its design.
MOTOR CAR PENNANTS: These should
take the form of miniature flags, see later sub FLAGS. They
may be flown on the radiator cap (or where radiator caps
used to be), on the front wings, or on the centre of the
front of the roof. The latter is unusual, and so far as is
known is only practised by the Royal Family who have a
special need for the flag to be visible in motor processions
among crowds. Motor car pennants (strictly "banners", as a
pennant is a triangular shaped flag) signify that the car
contains the person entitled to fly the flag. So in that
person’s absence from his motor car the flag should be cased
or removed. The display of the company’s flag on a motor car
is restricted to the head of the company, who represents the
corporate authority of the company vested in him. But it may
also be flown on the car of anyone to whom his authority has
been temporarily delegated, and who therefore "represents"
him. The head of the company may "impale" the company’s arms
with his own personal arms, ie. the flag is vertically
divided down the middle and his personal arms fill the right
hand half as you look at it, while the company’s arms fill
the left hand half. Strickly speaking he should only display
this "impaled" flag while acting on company business, and
cease to use it on his retirement or supercession. "Impaled"
is an odd word, heraldically meaning divided "in pale", ie.
vertically down the middle.
It is recommended that motor car
pennants are (a) of cheap materials of which the normal flag
"bunting" is the hardest wearing and cheapest. Pennants wear
out quickly in the wind of rapid motor cars and although
synthetic materials such as nylon are more expensive they
give good results; (b) ordered in batches for the same
replacement reasons. If the company’s arms have a gold or
silver background then Lurex material gives reasonably
hard-wearing and very spectacular results.
It is correct for the head of
the firm to fly both the company’s flag and his own personal
banner on his motor car at the same time, but not usually on
the same staff. The usual solution is to fly the company’s
flag on the off-side front wing and his personal flag on the
near-side front wing. In Britain the use of motor car flags
is apt to attract a deal of leg-pulling, but this is never
free of envy and is easily countered where the flag and its
use are both legal and correct.
(b) BY THE EMPLOYEES
BADGES: It is correct for the
company’s employees to wear the company’s coat of arms as a
badge, in the same way as a school’s pupils wear the
school’s coat of arms as a blazer badge. Similarly a small
metal shield of the company’s arms may be worn by the
company’s employees to signify their attachment to the
LIVERY COLOURS: May be worn by
the company’s employees, eg. as overalls or as football
jerseys by the works football teams, as treated sub HOUSE
The company’s flags should be of
square or rectangular shape and their entire area should be
occupied by the arms, as though the flag is a rectangular
shield. It is quite wrong to show the company’s arms on
a small shield in the middle of, say, a white flag. This
latter would mean that the shield of the company’s arms was
white with another little shield in the middle.
Flags may correctly be flown
from a vertical staff by one edge, or suspended from
horizontal staves by the top edge. The latter is a useful
method in indoor exhibition stands. Small weights can be
sewn in the hem of the lower edge to help its hang. Flags
intended for such vertical suspension in indoor sites are
not subject to the buffeting of the weather and very
spectacular ones can be embroidered to give substantial tone
to exhibition stands, or for draping on walls.
Flags are flown over buildings
and sites to convey the same message as would the use of the
company’s shield, ie. to signify the company’s identity.
They can properly be flown over all the company’s buildings
and their use need not be restricted to head offices.