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The Emblem

The current Lions emblem traces its roots back to 1920 when Maurice Blink, a Chicago commercial artist and founding member, created the initial design.

The current Lions emblem traces its roots back to 1920 when Maurice Blink, a Chicago commercial artist and founding member, created the initial design.

The Emblem

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Touchstone Story #30

Why is Lions’ cherished emblem so recognizable and memorable?

One reason is that Lions are almost everywhere around the globe, and Lions proudly wear, display and apply the brand on nearly everything. The emblem resonates because it brings up timeless associations with the image of the lion itself—strength, courage, action and fidelity.

When the Lions Clubs International was founded in 1917, Lions displayed both their pride and their sense of humor in creating the first Lions emblem.

As for their pride, the lion in the emblem was based on a famous painting by the 19th century French artist Rosa Bonheur of a regal lion at rest in the wild. The painting’s title, Old Monarch, become the nickname for Lions’ earliest members and clubs. 

As for their humor, the first emblem was also a pun. The emblem  depicted the lion holding a club in its mouth with the word “international” emblazoned on the club. The play on the words” lion” and “club” and “international” was clever, but by 1919 Lions asked its members to come up with a more polished logo.

Flooded with submissions from Lions members who were also amateur artists, Lions decided to form a committee at the 1919 International Convention in Chicago to acquire a proper, professional logo. The committee turned to Maurice Blink, a Chicago commercial artist and founding member. Blink created a sketch of circle with an “L” in the center and two lions’ heads in profile looking in opposite directions.

The Lions board of directors approved Blink’s design in April 1920. Melvin Jones explained its meaning. The emblem, Jones said, “represents a lion facing the past with pride and the future with confidence, looking in all directions to render service." 

In the earliest full-color expressions of Blink’s design, the twin lions looked a lot more like real lions with wavy dark brown manes, glowing eyes, and ferociously sharp, white teeth. Over the years, the lions became less fierce as the logo was standardized to promote consistent use worldwide.

Refreshed and updated again in the early 21st century, the emblem will likely serve for many more decades to come. And why not? It works.

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