Before coming to work at the World Service Office (WSO), as a local member, I didn’t think much about the Al‑Anon logo or its history. But in my role as Legal Specialist at the WSO, I’ve had the opportunity to research the history of our logo, and I’ve come to understand its importance in protecting the Al‑Anon name.
According to our oral history collection (housed in the WSO Archives), the Al‑Anon logo was originally created circa 1955 by Thomas C., the 12-year-old son of a WSO Volunteer, while sitting at the family’s kitchen table.
In the early 1960s, members and groups were using various emblems to identify Al‑Anon. Recognizing the need to protect the name of Al‑Anon, discussion was brought forward, and, at the 1968 World Service Conference, the Al‑Anon Family Groups logo was approved for identification of Conference Approved Literature (CAL). As recommended by the General Manager of the Alcoholics Anonymous General Service Office, Al‑Anon’s Board authorized the Executive Director to pursue registration of the names and logos for AFG, Inc.
Today, Al‑Anon uses three symbols, which are registered as Al‑Anon marks with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The Al‑Anon/Alateen logo with “AFG” in the circle is a popular means of identification at conventions and joint fellowship events. The logo without the “AFG” was adopted for easy identification of stationery, service tools, and other Al‑Anon/Alateen material. It also appears on our book covers and spines. Conference Approved Literature is identified on the copyright pages by the original seal accompanied by the words “Approved by World Service Conference, Al‑Anon Family Groups.”
A description of the logo and its symbolism appears in the Introduction to Paths to Recovery—Al‑Anon’s Steps, Traditions, and Concepts (B-24) as follows:
Al‑Anon’s logo is a triangle with a circle inside. The three sides of the triangle symbolize our three Legacies: Recovery through acceptance of the Steps, Unity through acceptance of the Traditions, and Service through acceptance of the Concepts. All three sides are necessary for the triangle to remain a triangle, just as a three-legged stool needs all three legs in order to stand. The circle within the triangle has been described by some Al‑Anon members as a circle of welcome that carries the Al‑Anon message of hope to the many families and friends who are living or have lived with the disease of alcoholism. In this simple symbol, we find represented the spiritual principles that unite us in our common bond: recovery from the effects of the family disease of alcoholism. (p. xi)
Use of Al‑Anon’s symbols for anything other than Al‑Anon/Alateen purposes—or any alterations of them—endangers their legal status. As the Legal Specialist at the WSO, I work to protect our registered marks to ensure that Al‑Anon/Alateen is there for the next family member or friend that reaches out for help.
By Anne P., International & Legal Specialist
The Forum, May 2023
“Inside Al-Anon Family Groups” presents news, policy, and commentary from volunteers, staff and readers sharing experience through service. Please feel free to reprint these articles on your service structure website or newsletter, along with this credit line: Reprinted with permission of Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc., Virginia Beach, VA.