From troll to penguin

The penguin is strongly connected to Jotun through its long presence in Jotun’s logo. But did you know that Jotun’s first logo was a troll, and that the logo was changed several times before ending with the penguin?

Jotun’s founder, Odd Gleditsch sr., bought the property Gimle in Sandefjord, Norway in 1926. In Norse mythology, Gimle is described as the most beautiful place in Asgard (home of the gods), even more beautiful than the sun. The factory already situated at Gimle was called Jotun, and what was more natural than using a jotun, or a jotne – a giant troll – in the logo? In a variety of versions, the troll “Trym” remained Jotun’s logo for some years.

In time the troll came to be perceived as a pagan symbol, and it was also claimed to scare children. Gleditsch decided to change the logo to a reindeer, leaping between the mountain tops of Jotunheimen, a mountainous area in southern Norway. However, the link between mountains, reindeers and ship paint was not obvious, and eventually the logo was changed again.

This time Gleditsch chose a hammer. Not just any hammer, but Tor’s hammer, one of the gods in Norse mythology. The story was that “Trym” the troll stole the hammer from Tor, a symbolic act from an underdog. At the time, Jotun was a much smaller market player than today.

The hammer was used in the logo for several years. But throughout the 1930s and early 40s, the hammer came to be used more and more as a political symbol. Gleditsch did not want Jotun to be associated with any political ideology, and in 1942 he decided it was time to change the logo again.

This time he wanted a bird, and he suggested a seagull. But his close colleague Rolf Ra believed that if it was to be a bird, it should be a penguin. The penguin was already well-known in Sandefjord, Norway due to the whale hunting. Also, the penguin was known to be resilient and stylish, loyal, caring and bold, and able to withstand harsh conditions. Qualities that Jotun could easily relate to. Ingar Jensen was advertising manager at the time and drew the first penguin logo over a cup of coffee.

In 1972, Norway’s four largest paint manufacturers merged, and for a short while the new company used four colourful horses in the logo. After a transition period, the penguin came back – and as Jotun had now developed into a truly global company, the penguin was put inside a globe. Although minor changes over the years, this is the logo we still recognise as Jotun’s logo. The penguin is here to stay.