First appearing in the early 17th century on the coat of arms of the Pictet family, the lion was adopted to become the symbol of the Pictet Group in 1955. It has since had four incarnations.
In 2015 Pictet’s lion were adapted to meet the demands of the digital era.
The Pictet Group’s logo famously includes a ‘lion issant’, known affectionately as Leo. The lion first appeared in the early 17th century on the coat of arms of the Pictet family, rearing above the ramparts of the old city walls of Geneva – a symbol of strength, courage and defiance: in 1602 the Duke of Savoy had made an unsuccessful assault on the city state.
The rearing lion was adopted as the symbol of Pictet & Cie in 1955, on the 150th anniversary of the Bank. The historic motto of the Pictet family, fais bien et laisse dire (do your best and let others do the talking) was chosen to support the lion. In the early 1600s, Jacques Pictet had replaced this motto by the more severely Calvinist Sustine et Abstine (sustain and abstain), soon after the successful repulsion of the Savoyards. This new family motto was in fact the maxim of the Stoics, attributed to the 1st century AD Roman philosopher Epictetus. Pictet certainly realised that the philosopher’s name contained the letters P-I-C-T-E-T.
In 1974, in a climate of recession, Pictet replaced the motto with ‘1805’, the year the original bank was founded, thus emphasising its solid foundations in uncertain times. The lion was remodelled with long, sharp claws and a fiery tongue, and painted in deep golden tones, a natural guardian of Pictet’s long-held values.
In 1997, Leo, as the Pictet lion had come to be called, was confined to a cage, alongside the letters ‘PICTET’. The Dotcom bubble was emerging, the Euro was born soon after and Pictet was expanding into new territory at the same time, selling mutual funds to external investors and carving out institutional activities under the Asset Management business. It was time to show the unity of Pictet’s activities within a clearly defined boundary.
In 2002 the lion was liberated – with its claws blunted for good measure. The new millennium had opened with renewed optimism, accompanied by fresh anxieties. It was time to set Leo free again and let him roam.
In 2015 Pictet’s lion and logo were adapted to meet the demands of the digital era. The lion has more integrity, as it were – his ears and tongue and claws are now joined to his body. The logo has a new equilibrium, as identifiable on a hand-held screen as it is superimposed on a wall in a convention centre – still timeless, now versatile and fighting fit, ready to face the future.