May 25, 2007
The Evolution of the Victorinox Company Name
Thursday’s news that Victorinox, the company that makes Swiss army knives, has changed its name to Victorinox Swiss Army, got me thinking about the evolution of the company and the Swiss Army brand name.
Victorinox, for many people, doesn’t really mean “knives” any more, it means watches. Victorinox's blog certainly makes it seem like they are a watch company more than a knife company. I don’t see a knife anywhere on the opening posts.
But the term “Swiss Army” covers a great deal of ground nowadays, which is one of the reasons Victorinox wants to have those two recognizable words in its company name.
There’s a great post up by Michael Marcus describing the long standing competition between Wenger and Victorinox, both of which make “Swiss Army knives.” The term is generic and so essentially any company could trademark it as part of a product name. Not just anyone can use those words on their company name, though.
The first Swiss Army knife company, Victorinox, was founded in 1891 and found its biggest competitor only a few years later in 1893, when Wenger opened its doors. By mutual agreement Wenger advertises as “The Genuine Swiss Army Knife,” while Victorinox bills itself as “The Original Swiss Army Knife.”
Interestingly, the name “Swiss Army knife” was coined by American soldiers after WWII, who could not pronounce the original product name: Offiziersmesser.
Last year Victorinox bought Wenger, but the Wenger brand is very much still alive and is used to market briefcases, perfume and deodorant. Victorinox makes knives, watches and rescue tools.
Wenger also makes The Giant Swiss Army Knife, which frankly has to be seen to be believed. They also have a product name that might not be the right choice these days: the Traveler. When travelling, remember that knives of any size are not allowed on airplanes, and airport security will confiscate them.
The good news, though, is that one blogger seems to have found a place where you can buy all those confiscated Swiss Army knives.
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