As a maker of distilled spirits, Lucas Bols sells an extensive range of premium brands in 110 countries, among them well-known names such as Bols Likeuren, Bols Genever, Galliano, Pisang Ambon and Bokma. The company’s head office is located in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and it also has a registered office in the United States. Its primary target group are bartenders who mix cocktails, for which Bols spirits are ideal. The company even runs a special bartending school, de Bols Bartending Academy. This is where Bols stands today. But its history is no less impressive.
Bols is one of the oldest established firms in the Netherlands, having been founded by the Bols family as a distillery in 1575. Lucas Bols, after whom the company is named, was born in 1652. Under his chairmanship during the Dutch Golden Age, the company grew to become a global player. Lucas was also a major shareholder in the Dutch East India Trading Company (VOC), giving his firm easy access to the exotic herbs and spices needed to make distilled spirits. From these beginnings, he created 300 different liqueur recipes. Lucas Bols died in 1719, but his example continues to inspire the company, says Sandie van Doorne: “Lucas is still a key figure to us. His craftsmanship, enterpreneurial spirit and creativity serve as an example to us all.”
If you look closely at the company logo, you’ll see it contains two crossed arrows. Sandie van Doorne explains: “In the old High German dialect, the word for arrows was ‘Bulten’. This is expressed by the arrows in our logo, since in sixteenth century German the name ‘Bols’ was written as ‘Bultius’. Another fun fact is that our coat of arms was actually designed by a member of the Bols family: by Alexander Benjamin Bols in around 1750.” The arrows in fact symbolise the importance of trademark protection. During the nineteenth century, Bols underwent strong worldwide growth, as a result of which more and more imitations began to appear on the market. The brand therefore needed protection. So, in 1884, the company had its trademark – including the logo with the two crossed arrows – legally registered.
Everyone in the firm has a true Bols ‘heart’, Sandie van Doorne adds. “We’re all proud of our history, our Amsterdam roots and our craftsmanship. For all of us, our past is a source of inspiration for the future.” As regards that future, there’s no doubt the Bols name will continue to stand strong for many years to come. This is due to a binding provision the last members of the Bols family put in place at the beginning of the nineteenth century. That provision still stands, and requires the company to continue to use the name ‘Bols’ going forward. In short, if there’s one trademark that gives voice to its past, it’s Lucas Bols.
Protecting your trademark is a must for all companies. But what makes a mark? How do they come about and what do they mean for the trademark owner and most importantly; what do they represent? In this column, we will give you some insight in the fascinating stories behind trademarks. In this feature: Lucas Bols.