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Henri Nestlé, company founder
Henri Nestlé’s sense of scientific innovation, combined with an instinct for marketing and a global ambition continues to shape and drive the company today.
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A portrait of Mr Nestlé dating from 1867
Henri Nestlé began as a pharmacist’s assistant but when he sold the company which bore his name at the age of 60 it was already an international success selling his famous milk-based baby food – Farine Lactée - across five continents.
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The Nestlé trademark in 1868
Mr Nestlé recognized the importance of branding from the very beginning. His logo, featuring small birds being fed in a nest on an oak branch, was based on his family’s crest. Although it has been updated over the years, it remains the recognisable and distinctive logo of Nestlé today.
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General view of Vevey around 1870
Mr Nestlé began his business in the small Swiss lakeside town of Vevey, using milk from the local area. Vevey is still where the global headquarters of Nestlé remains today.
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Vevey’s Pharmacie centrale, seen here in 1900, where Henri Nestlé worked between 1839 and 1843
Henri Nestlé worked initially as a pharmacist’s assistant in Vevey. His training in chemistry and his scientific background shaped his attitude and his future approach to business. An entrepreneur and constant innovator, he experimented with the production of everything from lemonade to cement before inventing the Farine Lactée formula that would spell his fortune.
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Factory in Vevey, milk arriving at the dairy around 1890
Originally, Henri Nestlé bought the milk needed for his baby food each morning but by the summer of 1869, two years after launching the Farine Lactée this was no longer practical, so he to buy his supplies from a milk collection centre in a small village near Vevey, from where it was delivered to the factory.
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A German advert for Nestlé’s children’s milk product
Although he was originally German, Mr Nestlé - and his successors - used the reputation for Switzerland’s high quality milk as part of the product’s marketing strategy from the beginning. Nestlé remains one of the world’s largest purchasers of milk, as well as commodities like cocoa and coffee.
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One of the pamphlets Henri Nestlé wrote to promote his product to the medical profession
Henri Nestlé also realised that in order to change perceptions about his brand new product he had to convince the scientific community of its merits so he produced a series of pamphlets, distributed to doctors and pharmacists, which explained the merits of his product.
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An advert from 1897
His understanding of the importance of creating a brand was echoed in advertising campaigns of those who took over the company after he sold it, creating adverts that remain beautiful as well as functional.
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An advert from 1900
By 1875, Nestlé’s products were sold everywhere from Indonesia to Egypt, and from the US to Argentina. This global ambition to make products for consumers the world over has continued.