The story of the star

It would be impossible to tell the story of A.P. Moller - Maersk without also telling the story of the white seven-pointed star. The iconic logo has been part of Maersk’s heritage since before the company was even founded, and is an enduring symbol of the strong family bonds that still run through the heart of the company over 130 years later.

Early in his career, Captain Peter Mærsk Møller worked for an English shipowner, and his wife, Anna, would sometimes accompany him on voyages. It was on one of these voyages that Anna became gravely ill. Fearing that she wouldn’t make it, Peter Mærsk Møller went up on deck and prayed to God for a sign that his wife would recover. It was then that he saw a single star lighting up the otherwise grey sky.

Laura ship at 1886
Anna did recover, and in 1886, when Peter Mærsk Møller purchased his first steamship – the steamship LAURA – he adorned the funnel of the ship with a white seven-pointed star on a pale blue background, as a tribute to his beloved wife. For Peter Mærsk Møller, the star had come to signify her recovery and so, their good fortune. In a letter to Anna, dated October 6, 1886, he wrote:

The little star on the funnel is a reminder of the evening I prayed for you so dejectedly and anxiously, asking for the sign that I might see a star in the grey, overcast sky, a reminder that the Lord hears our prayers.

Peter Mærsk Møller
PMM Brev letter

From St Petersburg to Svendborg

Years later, while Peter Mærsk Møller’s son A.P. Møller was working in St Petersburg, they began to discuss the possibility of setting up a new steamship company. The result was the Steamship Company Svendborg – the forerunner of today’s A.P. Moller - Maersk.

Peter Mærsk Møller was instrumental in acquiring the share capital needed to buy the company’s first ship in 1904, and when they deliberated on a house flag for the newly formed shipping company, Peter and Anna’s star was the obvious choice.

Within a few years, A.P. Møller was keen to expand the fleet of the Steamship Company Svendborg beyond its modest three vessels, but some of the company’s board members were resistant to the idea of expanding too quickly. Instead, A.P. Møller  founded a second company, the Steamship Company of 1912. The little white star went with him, becoming permanently linked to the Maersk fleet.

The evolution of an icon

The white seven-pointed star on its emblematic sky-blue background has always been synonymous with Maersk, but the logo itself has been through some evolution over the years.

The first official logo for liner shipping services was introduced in 1928, when the new Maersk Line needed a logo to market the service between the United States and Asia to shippers and passengers. Describing the creative process at the time, A.P. Møller said: “I had the funnel and its surroundings on one of my vessels photographed, and based on this image we developed the Maersk Line logo.”

Logo previous version

There have been many versions of the logo in the subsequent decades, but the Maersk logo as we know it today dates back to the beginning of the 1970s, when it was decided that a more modern approach was needed.

To meet the brief of designing a logo that was easily recognisable, timeless, flexible, and easy to remember, Maersk enlisted the help of Danish designer and architect Acton Bjørn. The logo first appeared on three Maersk Air Boeing airplanes in 1972, and deployment across the rest of Maersk followed.

Who we were. Who we are. Who we will be.

Today, the Maersk star is both a reminder of our heritage and a symbol of our future; a visual manifestation of the values that have been handed down through generations, and which continue to guide Maersk now, and in the years and decades to come.

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