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Pictograms: Quickly comprehended, easily interpreted, immediately understood

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ERCO takes responsibility for the licensing and further-development of Otl Aicher’s pictogram system.

Lüdenscheid, July 2010 - After 38 years, Otl Aicher’s pictogram system has become established as a design classic and is now an accepted cultural entity. By enabling communication beyond cultural and language barriers, it facilitates understanding and orientation in our modern, globally thinking world. Following Aicher’s death in 1991, ERCO GmbH took over the worldwide sale and licensing of the pictogram system. It has been continually developed in keeping with Aicher’s original concept in order that interested parties can acquire reproducible originals and licenses for their specific application directly from ERCO.

Communicating through images
Otl Aicher (1922-1991) co-developed the pictogram system with the Ulm School of Design for the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich. The pictorial symbols have not only stood the test of time in the world of sport, they have also been continually expanded for other applications such as transport, the service industry and health-care, amongst many others. The pictograms are simple and quickly understood. Any sighted person, regardless of their ability in languages or educational background, can comprehend, interpret and understand them. Aicher did not just design individual pictograms, but created a system of syntax that follows strict design rules. It is this foundation that allows the system to be expanded or adapted to suit new situations and application areas. This makes it a timeless living system which is constantly being expanded.

Individual license quotation

Above and beyond the individual Aicher pictograms, the copyright protection also extends to the underlying design system. Following on from the long-term cooperation with Otl Aicher in the field of visual conception, ERCO GmbH has for many years been responsible both for the worldwide sale and licensing as well as the further development of the system’s content. Brands, products and institutions of all kinds can benefit from the positive image and functionality of these highly recognisable symbols by acquiring a license. For each particular application scenario, ERCO makes an individual quotation and license agreement. The license fees depend on the number of pictograms used, the duration of use and on the print run of printed media or the quantities of products. ERCO ensures that non-profit-making licensees such as sports clubs are granted suitable concessions.

New brochure and website

The symbolic pictographs are now finding application in widely differing places. ERCO’s new "Pictogram" brochure gives an overview of these highly varied applications. Every pictorial symbol from Aicher’s system that has ever been released is now to be found at This website also includes information on licensing.

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About ERCO

The ERCO Light Factory in Lüdenscheid is a leading international specialist in architectural lighting using LED technology. The family business, founded in 1934, now operates as a global player with over 60 subsidiaries, branches and agencies in over 40 countries worldwide. Since 2015 ERCO's portfolio has been 100% LED. Inspired by "light digital" as its leitmotif, ERCO in Lüdenscheid develops, designs and produces digital luminaires with focus on photometrics, electronics and design. Working closely with architects, lighting designers and engineers, ERCO develops lighting tools used primarily for applications in the following fields: Work, Shop, Culture, Community, Hospitality, Living, Public and Contemplation. ERCO understands digital light as the fourth dimension of architecture - providing highly precise and efficient lighting solutions to support creative designers in turning their visions into reality.
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