The guardian of the green gold
The griffin is originally a mythical animal, half lion, and half eagle. The oldest griffins are found in the ancient fables and art of Mesopotamia as early as 3000 BC. Later, they appeared in many different forms in Egyptian and Persian art, for example. They found their way to Europe through ancient Greece, and the English word griffin is in fact of Greek origin.
According to ancient belief, the griffin has the speed and strength of the king of birds and beasts. These qualities have made it highly revered guardian of ancient people’s golden treasures, the pharaohs of Egypt or the Greek gods.
In Finnish, the word griffin is translated as ‘aarnikotka’. According to philologists, the word ‘aarni’ refers to a large tree or guardian, believed to lie on top of treasures hidden in the ground.
Folklorists have even drawn a connection between the griffin and Louhi, who takes the form of a giant eagle in Kalevala, the Finnish national epic. Knowing that Simberg was a student of Akseli Gallen-Kallela, a famous Finnish painter of Kalevala themed masterpieces, further supports the theory.
First and foremost, the griffin was the guardian of gold. This could explain why Hugo Simberg most likely chose the mythical creature who, in this case, is guarding the green gold of the forests.
UPM has its roots in the 1870s
A symbol of leadership
It could rightfully be said that the Griffin has become an integral part of the modern UPM narrative. Although the logo was created over 120 years ago, it’s still very relevant and international.
The mystical griffin symbolises continuity, trust, and strength. The Griffin tells a great story about the company's history and future., a story of which the company is very proud of.
The UPM family tree
It also speaks to people all over the world. For instance, in China, where mythical creatures still appear in everyday conversations, employees are often asked about the story behind the logo.
The UPM Griffin has been used everywhere from ceramics to furniture, as well as the company architecture. Even today, it can be found embossed in the pulp bales produced at the Kymi pulp mill in Kuusankoski, southern Finland, the same location where the logo was originally taken into use.
The appearance of the logo underwent a few stylistic changes over the course of the 20th century. After the merger in 1996, the latest version – including the abbreviation UPM – was registered as the official company logo.