Alligator Logo: The Origins and the Misconception

Photo: AFP/Stringer(Getty Images)

Constantly bombarded by logos of companies from the moment we step outside our apartments, or even open our eyes, many of them are imprinted in our brains, that’s why there are so many quizzes about them. Yet a few of them are so impressionable and memorable as the alligator logo, more precisely, the Lacoste logo.

First thing’s first, it’s not an alligator logo, it’s a crocodile one, and you might be wondering if there is a difference, is it a potato-potato kind of thing, but it isn’t. Without getting too specific, alligators live only in some parts of the United States and China, so that’s why most people think that it’s an alligator logo. In fact, the color of the crocodile resembles the color of the logo more, as alligators are much darker.

Although the alligator is connected to the origin of the name and the logo of the brand.

Alligator Logo Origin

There might not be a single brand that has such a movie-worthy backstory like the Lacoste one. Firstly, if you don’t know, Lacoste is a French clothing company, mostly known for its polo shirts, but also for footwear, perfumes, leather goods like wallets and watches, glasses and sunglasses.

It was founded back in 1933 by a highly ranked tennis player René Lacoste along with André Gillier, who was the president of the largest French knitwear company at that time. Obviously, René was blessed with a cool-sounding last name and that’s what he used for the company’s name, but the story of how the logo came to be is much more interesting.

Lacoste was nicknamed “The Alligator” by the American press an press after he made a bet with the French Davis Cup captain, which promised him a crocodile-skin suitcase if he won an important match. The nickname got changed to Crocodile after he came back to Europe, and it stuck because it matched Lacoste’s tenacious playing style. Even though he didn’t win that match. So, in a way, it is an alligator logo after all.

Besides having an individual awesome nickname, Lacoste was also a part of a group of four French tennis players that were dominating the game in the second half of the 1920s and early 1930s. They were called The Four Musketeers, an additional benefit that helped Lacoste build one of the most recognizable companies in the world.

Yet, the company surely wouldn’t be as recognizable without the striking alligator logo… erm, the crocodile logo. It was designed by Lacoste’s friend Robert George and then affixed onto a blazer the tennis player wore during his matches. An unusual aspect in the world of high-performing brands, it’s actually that the brand gives meaning to the logo, and not the other way around.

Even though Lacoste started the company to produce sporting gear, firstly just polo shirts, since tennis players dressed more conservatively then than now, it’s now regarded as the ultimate casual wear. The company has now lasted over 84 years and has more than 1,500 employees, additionally, no one can argue that it would become as successful as it did if it wasn’t for the strong green crocodile logo.

When Lacoste died in 1996, French Advertising agency Publicis, who had been managing his company’s account for a long time, published a print ad with the Lacoste logo and the English words “See you later…”. This reinforced the idea that the animal was perhaps an alligator as it is the beginning of a well-known English idiom.

So, do you now still consider it to be an alligator logo or a crocodile one? And what do you make out of the cool backstory behind the Lacoste company?

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