Picture of a section of the Bernafon corporate history timeline (1946 to 1992) exhibited at headquarters

75 years of Bernafon

An important mission

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At Bernafon, we also have an important mission. One that’s shaped by passion, technological competence, and commitment to partnership: “Together we empower people to hear and communicate better.”

As we look back on 75 years of Bernafon, join in on the celebrations and learn more about what makes us the great company we are today.

Key milestones

Old black and white photo of Bernafon's first factory in Flamatt, near Bern, Switzerland, 1925

1946 - 1974

A Swiss lead into hearing care

It all started in Switzerland when young Hans Gfeller Jr., a student in engineering, got a hold of his father’s new hearing aid and built his own.


The starting point

With two factories in the Bern area, Gfeller AG was a telecommunication company best known for their telephones. Although successful, management always kept on the look out for opportunities for expansion. A big break came when the company’s owner, Hans Gfeller Sr., got back home from a trip to the US with a brand new hearing instrument. His son, Hans Gfeller Jr., took a particularly keen interest in it. But instead of admiring what was then the best in audiology technology, he grabbed a screwdriver and proceeded to take it apart, piece by piece. Shortly after, he started developing and selling his own sound amplification devices through the family business.

  • Group image, around 1946

    A visit from Switzerland’s postal, telephone and telegraph service (PTT), a corporate client. Hans Gfeller Sr. is fifth from the right.

  • Old black and white portraits of smiling Hans Gfeller Jr. & Hans Gfeller Sr., with hearing instrument, 1946

    Hans Gfeller Jr. & Hans Gfeller Sr., with hearing instrument


“A contract has been completed with A. Kunz & Co, Zurich, and E. Singer, Bern, for the provision of 250 hard of hearing 3 lamp amplification devices, at a sales price of 128 Swiss Francs, production cost including tests and construction approx. 76 Francs . A first sample is being completed and will be ready in the next few days.”

Company board minutes, December 20, 1946


An instant global success

Interest in the Gfeller hearing aids picked up quickly also outside Switzerland. By 1949, sales contracts had been concluded as far away as North Africa and the Middle East. A few years later, a first sales branch was opened in Stuttgart, Germany.

  • Old black and white photo of man sitting by desk testing Bernafon hearing aids, around 1950

    Hearing aid testing, circa 1950

  • Old black and white photo of three workers sitting around a table putting together Bernafon hearing aids, around 1950

    Hearing aid production, circa 1950


From portable to behind the ear

Bernafon’s first portable hearing instrument was a two part device with valve amplifiers and a filament battery that users had to carry around in a separate box. With transistors continuing to shrink in size, Gfeller AG introduced its first behind the ear instruments.


Development from mini vacuum valves to the transistor (scale: 1:2)

Old photo of a room full of dedicated workers in labcoats working on Bernafon hearing aid production, 1989

1975 - 1994

Expansion and consolidation

The economic crisis of 1973 combined with rapid technological changes shaped the company’s strategy for the years that followed. To make its place in an increasingly competitive market, Gfeller AG – still mostly a telecommunications company – needed to shift all its focus on hearing aids.


Launch of T-Series

The first to be equipped with integrated circuits and two small chips inside, the T-Series proved a definite success. With further refinement over subsequent years, the product was so popular that it remained in production until 2002.


Ascom merger

The Gfeller company merged with Autophon, Hasler and Zellweger and forms Ascom. The new group employed 14,000 workers and accounted for CHF 2.2 billion annual turnover.

First digital hearing aid

After four years in development, PHOX, the world’s first digitally programmable hearing system was ready.


“Previous devices had to be adjusted manually by an acoustician using a screwdriver. With PHOX, fittings could be carried out using a programming unit incorporating an Intel processor. Adjustments could be made for up to ten different parameters.”


“Previous devices had to be adjusted manually by an acoustician using a screwdriver. With PHOX, fittings could be carried out using a programming unit incorporating an Intel processor. Adjustments could be made for up to ten different parameters.”


A key player in the industry

“With great pride, the company’s management was able to tell employees and shareholders that the new group was ranked eleventh among the world’s largest telecommunications firms.”


Take-over of Bosch hearing activities

The company continued to grow with the acquisition of the hearing instrument activities of German firm Robert Bosch GmbH. The same year, the company opened its own sales wing in Berlin.


Sale of Ascom Audiosys to William Demant Holding

“As part of a new strategy determined by the Ascom group, it was decided that various activities should be offloaded. The production of hearing instruments is subsequently acquired by Denmark’s William Demant.”

Picture of Bernafon global headquarters building in Bern, Switzerland, on a sunny day

1995 - 2021

On the road of innovation

Following the take-over by William Demant Holding – with a core business strongly rooted in hearing care – alignment and cooperation started in production and logistics. Product development, marketing and sales remained separate and carried out independently.


Bernafon name and new headquarters in Bern-Bümpliz

The various divisions are renamed ‘Bernafon’. For the first time, Bernafon connected and referred to the product, the firm behind it, and the brand new headquarters in Bern-Bümpliz.

Bernafon on an innovation streak



First fully digital hearing aid



World’s first ChannelFree™ hearing aid



Award-winning design with external speaker



Nano receiver-in-the-ear instrument with feedback canceller



First hearing aid compatabile with smartphones



First lithium-ion rechargeable hearing aid



A True Environment Processing™ hearing aid for people with profound hearing loss



The industry’s first hearing aid with Hybrid Technology™


New opportunities ahead

Thanks to a clear direction and focus on high-performance products, leading technology, and outstanding support, Bernafon continues to evolve and increase market share. Customer and user needs and expectations in a changing industry makes for interesting years to come.

Visual identity

The Bernafon logo

Bernafon is a Swiss company working to make better hearing commonplace and our logo is a visual expression of that commitment. While our tagline hints to the enthusiasm and passion that drive us, the ear icon next to the wordmark stands for our promise to deliver high performance products with leading technology.


Logo evolution

Did you know a crossbow bedecked our very first logo in 1946? In the interwar period and during the Great Depression, this accessory was a common feature of Swiss trademarks. As an alternative to the Swiss cross, the crossbow symbolized quality, reliability, and durability attributes we still find rich meaning in today.

  • 1946-1958


  • 1958-1986


  • 1986-1999


  • 1999-2007


  • 2007-2021


Our name stems from the city we call home – Bern, Switzerland. It also fits us well as the Bernese are known to be a pragmatic and responsible people.

Product campaigns

  • Old poster ad for Bernafon SwissEar hearing aids showing woman in red Swiss flag dress and the Matterhorn mountain behind

    Do you remember “Heidi”? That was a truly Swiss campaign released to promote SwissEar in 2005.

  • Bernafon hearing aids poster ad showing green hearing aid among green olives with text: who said hearing aids had to be big, beige and boring?

    Acclaimed campaign. Both the Brite hearing aid (Red Dot award winner) and the campaign were recognized as memorable and unique (2007).

  • International recognition. The Bernafon Great Plus movie won a Gold Dolphin at the Cannes Corporate Media & TV Awards in 2016.

  • Swiss hotelier. Charles Frey, our trendy spokesperson for Zerena, made the cover of the first Bernafon HF magazine (2017).

More campaign highlights

Smile (1999)


Symbio (2002)

The most precise picture of sound

Prio (2006)

Best in class

Xtreme (2007)

Take it to the limit

Vérité (2009)

Clear natural sound

Veras (2011)

A new perspective

Chronos (2012)

The time is now

Acriva (2013)

Focus on maximum precision

Carista (2013)

Get the story in detail

Juna (2014)

For a first class hearing experience

Supremia (2015)

Powerful perspectives

Zerena (2018)

The new dynamics of hearing

Viron (2019)

Sound by Viron. Simply closer to reality.

Leox (2019)

Reveal your spontaneity

Alpha (2020)

Bernafon Alpha. Inspired by the best.

Wrapping up

2021 was a milestone year for Bernafon as we celebrated 75 years in the hearing industry. We sit down with Bruno Keller, General Manager of Bernafon, as he reflects on how the company is achieving its mission.

Employee testimonials

What’s it like to work at Bernafon?

"Our tagline ‘Your hearing, Our passion’ rings so true to me. Hearing that a 9-year-old girl discovered sound because of our hearing aids is so fulfilling, joyful, and priceless."
Silvana P., Brand Manager, Italy

"I am very grateful for the incredible network of individuals I work with. Researchers at universities, distributors, hearing care professionals - I have learned a great deal from all of them."
Neil H., Head of Audiology, Bern

"With a few colleagues we created a music band, the Bernie Bees. We played at Christmas parties and also at customer events. We practiced in our free time and management supported us with a band room and some equipment. That was great fun."
Uwe B., Head of Product Management, Bern

"The special working atmosphere at Bernafon must be emphasized. Professionalism, kindness, and willingness to help are omnipresent. It is priceless."
Andrzej P., General Manager, Poland

"One of the best things about my job is that once or twice a year, I meet up with other product specialists from all over the globe at the Bern headquarters. Always a good time."
Merlijn V., Product Specialist, Netherlands

"Working for the Bernafon brand is like working with a global powerhouse, but where everybody knows your name. When the job needs to get done it can be with the help from your local team members or a colleague thousands of miles away. "
Gregory S., Sales Manager, UK

"Being in a training position, a lot of traveling is required and a lot of adventures come with it."
Sonja K., Head of Training and Product Support, Bern

"We moved from Canada to Switzerland and Bernafon has given us the foundations for building a great Swiss life."
Jennifer H., Editor, Bern

"My favorite things working for Bernafon: the fantastic technology, the close family feel across the business, and that we are the underdogs! We keep things sincere and honest."
Navjeet S. J., Training Manager, UK

"Bernafon attaches great importance to the well-being of employees. This is also reflected in the company's vision, which I appreciate very much."
Tiziana D., Social Media Manager, Bern

"I love the team spirit and traditions. Once a year our team goes for one hour of riddle solving in Bern’s newest adventure rooms. Teamwork, problem solving, and imagination skills are key to find the treasure or escape a tricky situation."
Myriam S., Project Leader Marketing Communications, Bern

"I like the many after-work activities with colleagues."
Marc E., Project Leader, Bern

"I love that in the Bernafon team there is a great team spirit."
Graeme T., Marketing Executive, UK

"Bernafon has turned into my second home. I've been able to grow as a person and as a professional with an amazing group of people that I'm glad to call my friends."
Melissa M., Marketing Coordinator, Spain

"What I like most is that I work for a great brand in an interesting industry."
Fabio L., Regional Sales Director, Bern

Collage of Bernafon employees smiling faces

“Together we empower people to hear and communicate better.”

“Together we empower people to hear and communicate better.”