The Seal Of Cotton Trademark Celebrates 50 Years

stacey gorman
BY STACEY GORMAN
WARREN, ARKANSAS

In 1973, the Seal of Cotton trademark was created and 50 years later, it has become an iconic symbol to consumers and is globally recognized by the textile industry. The power of the seal is still real today with more than eight out of 10 consumers recognizing the Seal of Cotton trademark.

But where does the seal come from, and who owns it? The Seal of Cotton trademark is owned by Cotton Incorporated who created it with checkoff funds paid into the Cotton Research and Promotion Program.

A Trademark Is Born

The initial idea for designing a cotton trademark came in 1971 when Dukes Wooters, Cotton Incorporated’s first president, wanted a symbol that would convert cotton from a commonplace agricultural commodity into an identifiable consumer brand. The logo, known as the Seal of Cotton, was created in 1973 by San Francisco-based creative agency Landor Associates, who also designed Levi Strauss & Co.’s patch and Coca-Cola’s trademark. 

“The assignment, or brief, we got was to find a way for cotton to stand out from competing fibers,” recalls Susan Landor Keegin, project manager for Landor Associates at the time. Twelve options for the iconic logo were presented, and the winning one was Susan’s design. “It was a highlight of my life. We came up with several options, and the one that caught everyone’s imagination was my design, and it was the one that was ultimately used.”

The inspiration for the design, she recalls, came from a trip to California. “I was going to see relatives who lived in the area and saw cotton growing in the fields with the bolls puffed up. I picked a bunch of cotton and brought it back to the office. Something about seeing it in person, the rigidity of the stem and the softness of the boll inspired my design.” And the rest, as they say, is history. 

All Things Cotton

Fifty years of using the Seal of Cotton trademark to build a brand has earned consumers’ affection, with more than 90% stating cotton is their preferred choice because it is the softest, most comfortable and most versatile fiber. In the past 50 years, The Seal of Cotton has been registered in nearly 70 countries with more than 950 brands. There are 190 worldwide licensees.

There are no royalty fees required for brands and retailers to be able to use the Seal of Cotton trademark on their products. However, there is one essential requirement — the product must be predominantly made of cotton. In fact, Cotton Incorporated has an entire team dedicated to making sure the Seal of Cotton trademark is used correctly and in accordance with qualifying guidelines. 

Cotton Incorporated’s Kim Kitchings said by calling attention to cotton, through the Seal of Cotton trademark, brands and retailers can tell a story consumers identify with.

“We are proud to offer brands and retailers the opportunity to leverage 50 years of visibility and positive connections to the Seal of Cotton trademark,” said Kim Kitchings, Cotton Incorporated’s senior vice president of consumer marketing. “At Cotton Incorporated, our mission is to promote the use of and desire for all things cotton. With over 80% of consumers saying they can rely on a brand and its product when it features the Seal of Cotton, we know the power of the seal is real. By calling attention to cotton, through the Seal of Cotton trademark, brands and retailers can tell a story consumers identify with, in addition to aligning with the perceptions of quality, trust and sustainability that are associated with cotton.”

As the Seal of Cotton celebrates its 50th anniversary, Cotton Incorporated urges shoppers to make a conscious effort to check the label and seek products, clothing and home goods made of cotton and featuring the seal when making purchasing decisions. The Seal of Cotton recognition remains strong and together, we can make sure it will always be The Fabric of Our Lives. For more information on the 50th anniversary of the Seal of Cotton, visit: lifestylemonitor.cottoninc.com/50-year-anniversary/.


Stacey Gorman is The Cotton Board’s director of communications. Contact her at sgorman@cottonboard.org.

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