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BSI Kitemark certification symbol
|Certifying agency||BSI Group|
|Effective region||United Kingdom|
|Website||Kitemark home page|
The Kitemark is most frequently used to identify products where safety is paramount, such as crash helmets, smoke alarms and flood defences. In recent years the Kitemark has also been applied to a range of services, such as electrical installations; car servicing and accident repair; and window installations.
Origins of the Kitemark
The Kitemark was originally conceived in 1903 as a symbol to identify products manufactured to meet British Standards' specifications. "Kitemark" came from the kite shape of the graphic device which was drawn up – an uppercase B (for British) on its back, over an S (for standard), enclosed by a V (for verification). 
The Kitemark was initially used as a trademark on tramway rails in 1903 and was instrumental in reducing the number of specifications for rails from 75 to 5. The first full Kitemark scheme – equivalent to today’s Kitemark – came into being in 1926, when the General Electric Company was awarded a Kitemark for light fittings.
For the next few decades, the use of Kitemark was largely limited to technical and engineering applications up until the 1950s when the boom in consumer products led to increased concern about product safety. By the 1960s the Kitemark was being utilized to identify safe products in areas such as nightwear, domestic furniture, pressure cookers and motorcycle helmets.
With the introduction of quality management systems standards in the 1970s Kitemark schemes were developed in areas such as double glazing and fire safety. Today there are more than 450 individual Kitemark schemes covering everything from printed circuit boards to cattle tags.
The Kitemark is only available from BSI Group. To obtain Kitemark certification, products and services are assessed by BSI Product Services to ensure that they meet the requirements of the relevant British, European, trade association or international specification or standard. In addition, delivery of the product or service is audited against an accredited quality management system. Once a Kitemark licence is issued, licensees are regularly audited and are subject to surveillance visits to ensure continuing compliance.
A 2006 survey demonstrated that the Kitemark is recognized by 82 per cent of the UK population, 88 per cent of whom trust the Kitemark, 93 per cent of whom believe that Kitemark products are safer, and 91 per cent of whom believe the product is of a better quality than similar products without the Kitemark. A 2008 YouGov poll showed that almost half (49 per cent) of UK consumers look for a Kitemark when making a purchase.
In 2008 and 2009 the Kitemark was independently voted a Superbrand in the Top 500 Business Superbrands in the UK.
Examples of Kitemark schemes
- Car accident repair
- Car servicing
- Carbon monoxide detectors
- Fire extinguishers
- Windows and doors
- Plugs and sockets
- Motorcycle helmets
- Horse riding helmets
- Flood barriers
Misuse of "Kitemark"
The word "Kitemark" is a registered trademark of The British Standards Institution and the logo is also a certification mark. BSI, owner of the name and trademark, takes protection of the mark extremely seriously and action is taken where misuse or infringement occurs.
- Robert C McWilliam. BSI: The first hundred years. 2001. Thanet Press. London
- "Where did the BSI Kitemark TM Originate?"
- Tran, Mark (27 February 2009). "Rising to the Kitemark challenge". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 June 2016.
- History of BSI
- Homepage, BSI website
- "Flying High" (PDF). BSI Group. February 2007. Archived from the original (PDF) on 26 September 2012. Retrieved 16 June 2016.
- "Kitemark garages have 'increased trust'". What Car?. 20 April 2007. Archived from the original on 14 June 2008. Retrieved 16 June 2016.
- GfK NOP Consumer Survey July 2006
- Kitemark soars 100 places in leading brands survey, PRNewswire, February 2009
- Kitemark: Keeping track, Business Standards, October 2007