Jas Hennessy & Co., more commonly known simply as Hennessy, is a French producer of the Hennessy cognac. The company is considered one of the “big four” cognac houses in the world, alongside Martell, Courvoisier, and Rémy Martin.
Hennessy was founded in 1765 by Richard Hennessy. Richard (1724 – 1800) was an Irish military officer and entrepreneur who sought asylum in France owing to his Jacobite tendencies.
While in France, Richard served in the French Army under King Louis XV. He later left the army following an injury and eventually set up the Hennessy cognac. The company is headquartered in Cognac, France.
Here’s more info on the iconic Hennessy logo.
Hennessy Logo Appearance
Hennessy’s logo can be described as simple or sophisticated. It all depends on who you ask. The logo is made up of two basic elements – a badge and some writings.
The badge appearing on Hennessy’s logo is an image of a raised hand with an ax firmly clenched in its fist. At the center of the ax’s bit is a sign that looks like a miniature cross. The ax’s cutting edge is visibly sharp and sharply curved at both ends.
Its head and butt protrude prominently in their respective directions, forming sharp acute angles. The clenched fist also seems to be grasping the ax around its shoulder and belly as opposed to its back and throat, as is often the case. Besides, the hand emerges from what looks like military armor.
This symbol is known as Bras Armé in French. Bras Armé loosely translates to ‘the Arm & Axe’ in English. The symbol was inspired by Richard Hennessy’s family coat of arms and in the subsequent section, we explore the reasons behind choosing the military theme.
Underneath the Bras Armé image is the inscription ‘Maison Fondee en,’ followed by the number 1765. Decorative ornaments surround the four-digit number. The decorations look like two stylized capital letters E and are set on either side of the number. The E-like symbol to the right side of the number looks reversed.
Both the ‘Maison Fondee en’ inscription and the four-digit number, as well as its surrounding decorations, are in black. The characters also seem to have been written in a unique calligraphic style.
Beneath the ‘‘Maison Fondee en 1765’ part is the company’s brand name. The name is also executed in solid black and lowercased, except for the letter “H.” It’s also the most recognizable element of the Hennessy badge.
Lastly, underneath Hennessy’s wordmark is the word ‘COGNAC.’ The word is also in black, although the color is not as bold as the one used for ‘Hennessy.’ Also, this is the only word on the Hennessy logo that’s executed in CAPITAL letters.
Hennessy’s logo is largely monochromatic – based on black and white colors. Black is used for all the wordings on the logo as well as the outline colors on the ax and gauntlet. White is mainly used as the background color. The ax and gauntlet are also shaded in white.
However, Hennessy’s logo doesn’t always appear in a black and white color palette. The badge may change the color occasionally. A popular version is one where all the elements in the emblem – including the gauntlet, ax, and wordings – are executed in golden yellow and set against a white background. Silver versions of the logo also exist.
Hennessy’s logo uses a unique font. All the wordings appearing on the badge were executed in custom serifs. However, one of the common designs Hennessy uses on its product packages is the letter “H” in a rhombus. This symbol was developed by NR2154.
NR2154 is a creative studio co-founded by Jacob Wildschiodtz and Troels Faber. The studio has its offices in Copenhagen and New York.
Symbolism of Hennessy Logo
Symbolism of the Bras Armé
The Bras Armé sign was borrowed from Richard Hennessy’s coat of arms. The symbol has deep military roots. Richard Hennessy was an officer of the Louis XV army. He was reportedly discharged from the army after getting wounded in action.
After leaving the military, Hennessy made several unsuccessful attempts to set up his own liquor business. He only succeeded when he was able to produce alcohol himself.
As Hennessy’s liquor business gained momentum, it was necessary to give it an official brand identity. And there couldn’t think of a more befitting title than the image of a gauntlet firmly clenching an ax.
Interestingly, the gauntlet image was not proposed by Richard Hennessy himself. The badge was adopted in 1856 by Richard’s descendants. That was more than 50 years after the cognac founder’s death.
But why the ax and not any other weapon of war?
The main reason Richard’s descendants settled on the ax is that it was the signature weapon of war used during the Louis XV era. Besides, the image of an ax symbolizes power, strength, and aggressiveness – attributes that any army officer ought to possess.
Lastly, the ax on Hennessy’s logo is visibly raised. There are only two circumstances under which a soldier would raise an ax high – to strike his opponent or as a mark of victory. If you examine the Bras Armé ax keenly, you’ll realize that the ax’s cutting edge is pointed upwards.
This is a clear indication of victory. Hennessy’s descendants might have settled on this symbol as a celebration of their progenitor’s success in finally establishing a liquor business after several failed attempts.
Symbolism of the ‘Maison Fondee en’ Inscription
The phrase ‘maison Fondee en’ has different meanings. In this case, the most relevant translation is ‘company founded in.’
Symbolism of the ‘1765’ Digit
1765 is simply the year Hennessy was established. That explains why this four-digit number appears right beneath the ‘Maison Fondee en’ inscription. The full translation is ‘Company Founded in 1765.’
Symbolism of the Wordmark
Hennessy’s brand name is the most recognizable portion of the company’s logo. It draws attention to the badge while also communicating the company behind the symbolic emblem.
The ‘Hennessy’ name was also adopted as a tribute to the cognac’s founder. The name has succeeded in immortalizing Richard Hennessy, centuries after his death.
It’s also worth noting that the wordmark is in lowercase letters. That execution makes the lettering look less professional, adding an aura of friendliness to the entire Hennessy badge.
Symbolism of the ‘Cognac’ Word
Richard Hennessy established his liquor business in Cognac. The town had all the conditions required for producing cognac. Therefore, adopting the name on Hennessy’s logo might be a way to immortalize the town of Cognac. Obviously, the name also communicates the type of alcohol.
Symbolism of the Colors
Black is the color of power and elegance, while white symbolizes purity and innocence. However, the real reason Hennessy’s logo appears in monochrome is that black and white blend seamlessly into a simple yet elegant design.
And as we mentioned, Hennessy’s logo occasionally appears in other color versions, particularly gold and silver. Silver and gold connote affluence, glamor, and flamboyance.
Hennessy Logo History
Hennessy’s logo has not changed since its unveiling in 1856, despite numerous efforts by artists to modernize it. The stunning masterpiece has remained the defining symbol of Richard Hennessy’s family coat of arms and the famous Hennessy cognac.
Hennessy is one of the oldest and most successful cognac brands in the world. The brand is also noted for its symbolic logo, whose history is steeped in nobility and aristocracy.