ITU’s logo first appeared in 1947. Mr. Gerry Gross, the then Deputy Secretary-General of ITU, commissioned an emblem for the important International Telecommunication Conference (ITC) that was to take place in Atlantic City that year. The emblem – a globe with lightning flash – appeared on many documents during the conference.
After the 1947 conference, the emblem was gradually adopted by ITU as the official logo for the Union. By 1950, the globe and lightning flash – now with the ITU acronym – began to appear on a variety of ITU publications as well as on the letterhead of official correspondence.
At first, the logo appeared only in French and English, but Spanish, Chinese and Russian versions were soon developed. An Arabic version was created in 1982 after Arabic was adopted as the sixth official language for the organization.
The logo was intended to symbolize the speed of communications, equal to that of lightening, and to illustrate the fact that ITU promotes the development of the world-wide network through its regulation, coordination, planning and standardization activities.
In the 1960s, ITU organized a series of conferences to deal with the rapidly expanding use of radio services. To highlight ITU’s key role in developing international cooperation and regulation in these areas, variations of the ITU logo appeared with symbols representing the specific radio services.
Other variations appeared on the cover of the Telecommunications Journal,
renamed ITU News in 1994.
In 1995, a special presentation of the logo appeared to mark the 130th anniversary of the Union.
During ITU’s Centenary celebrations in 1965, the logo was formally recognized when the ITU Administrative Council approved a recommendation to “[retain] the emblem that has been very widely used since 1947 and which enabled all Union documents to be identified very rapidly.”
In 1996, ITU obtained protection for the name, abbreviation, flag and emblem of the Union under the Paris Convention on Industrial Property administered by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO).
Updating the logo, 2002
After more than 50 years of use in its original form, the ITU logo underwent a face lift in 2002. A more modern, classic typeface was adopted, with the full name of the organization added beside the globe to create a link between the acronym and the name itself. The symbol now usually appears only with the English acronym (ITU) while the full name of the organization can appear in any of the six official languages.
The meaning of the logo was slightly updated as well. Today, the logo is explained as follows:
The globe represents the universality of ITU. The lines of the globe represent the telecommunication networks. The lightning bolt represents electricity, which makes it possible to transmit telecommunication signals.