1890 – 1907

Original Royal Dutch Petroleum Company and Shell Transport and Trading logo's
The Shell Transport and Trading Company was set up in 1897.

 The Shell name

The origin of the Shell name can be traced back to the seashells that Marcus Samuel senior imported from the Far East during the late 19th Century. When his sons Marcus junior and Samuel were looking for a name for the kerosene that they were exporting to Asia, they chose Shell.

As kerosene sales came to dominate the business’s turnover, the name was adopted for the new import-export organisation that was set up in 1897 – the Shell Transport and Trading company.

The Shell name briefly took a back seat in 1907 when the company was merged with Royal Dutch to form, the Royal Dutch Shell Group, but the newly formed business quickly became known as Shell for short.

1900 – 1929

Three black and white illustrations showing development of logo from mussel shell to pecten
1900-1903 1904-1908 1909-1929

The Shell logo

Shell’s yellow and red scallop shell logo is one of the most recognisable symbols in the world, but it actually started life as a black and white mussel shell. This design was trademarked in 1900 and is the oldest of 22,000+ trademarks owned by Shell.

There are many theories about why the logo changed from a mussel shell to a scallop. One theory states that it was the idea of a businessman who imported Shell kerosene into India. His family had three scallops in their coat of arms.

Red and yellow

Yellow and red have been a fairly consistent element of Shell’s brand image from the earliest days although the exact origin is uncertain. It may come from the company’s origins in exports, as both yellow and red are used in maritime signalling. Samuel junior also chose red to make his kerosene cans stand out against Standard Oil’s blue when the companies were competing back at the end of the 19th Century.

Standing out from the crowd

The 1920s saw Shell breaking the mould in the world of marketing by using recognised artists rather than illustrators.

 

1930 – 1954

five logo designs from 1948
1948 logo designs

A more formal design emerges

In 1930 the Shell ‘Pecten’, the Latin word for scallop, was given a more formal design and applied to packaging, signage and vehicles. It could be used in white, yellow or red, but localised interpretation and hand-drawings meant that basic variations were common. In 1948, the ‘Shell’ name was introduced into the Pecten logo, but again this wasn’t universally applied.

1955 – 1970

three logo designs from 1955
1955 logo designs

A simpler logo

In the mid-1950s, a simpler logo look emerged that was more suitable for the new generation of printed transfers. This allowed the logo to be easily applied to everything from petrol pumps to shop signs. Variations on the logo continued to appear throughout the 50s, 60s and even 70s.

1971 – 1992

Geometric brand logo design by Loewy
Loewy brand guideline artwork

The modern Pecten is launched

In 1971 the famous industrial designer Raymond Loewy designed the Pecten logo that is recognisable today. The ‘Shell’ name was removed from the centre of the symbol and placed below in a specially designed typeface. In the early 1990s the current colours were introduced. 

Loewy’s guidelines show the incredible mathematical geometry underpinning it and how warm soft curves are combined to create the Pecten we see today.

1992 – present day

Current design of Shell retail station
Current generation Shell retail station

Current colours introduced

With the Pecten design well-established and being used consistently at last, the early 90s saw Shell’s current colours introduced: a warmer yellow and red to soften the feel of our brand and give it a broader appeal.

The Sound of Shell

In 2015, the sound logo and orchestral score, the Sound of Shell was created, a sound that is fast becoming as recognisable as the Pecten logo for customers.

The Shell brand throughout Australian history

Shell Aviation

Shell Aviation

A Shell Aviation Service pump tanker used for refuelling a Qantas aircraft in Darwin. Shell fuelled the first Qantas commercial flight and continued as an exclusive supplier into the 1960s.

Shell-branded service stations

Shell-branded service stations

This image is from our archival collection of service station photography between 1927 - 1965. The service station network is now operated by our exclusive licensee of the Shell brand in Australia, Viva Energy, which supplies Shell fuels to motorists across the country and Shell lubricants to support Australian industries.

Shell V-Power Racing Team

Shell V-Power Racing Team

The partnership between Shell V-Power and the Dick Johnson Racing organisation dates back to 1967 when Shell first sponsored Australian motorsport legend Dick Johnson. Today, the team is one of the most successful motorsports teams in Australia, with ten Australian Touring Car/Supercars Championships and four Bathurst 1000 victories.

Introducing Shell Energy

Introducing Shell Energy

February 2021 marked a significant milestone for Shell in Australia, as we re-branded ERM Power and in doing so expanded the Shell Energy brand in the Australian market across both wholesale and retail electricity and gas. Today, Shell Energy is Australia’s largest dedicated supplier of business electricity by load.

More in about us

Who we are

Shell has operated in Australia for over 120 years. Today, we are a leading natural gas producer and are playing our part in the transition to a low-carbon future by investing in the power sector, renewable energy sources and carbon abatement activities.

What we do

Shell businesses in Australia are part of the Shell Group, a global group of energy and petrochemical companies. Our aim is to meet the energy needs of society, in ways that are economically, socially and environmentally viable, now and in the future.

Our values

Our General Business Principles, Code of Conduct and Code of Ethics help everyone at Shell act in line with our values.

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