Upon incorporation of ICSA on 2 May 1903, a grant of arms was made by the College of Heralds, with the bird surmounting a shield of azure or Cambridge blue. On the shield were emblazoned a pen, flanked on either side by keys, symbols respectively of the secretary's role as recorder and custodian of valuable or confidential documents. The ermine background signified conformity to laws, regulations, rules and systems, the framework of a good secretary's working life.
In 1911, his Majesty the King extended his patronage to the Institute and a new Grant of Arms was issued from the College of Arms. The new Grant includes all the features of the original one i.e. The Secretary Bird and Key as crest and on the Shield the Quill Pen and the Keys and the motto Semper Vigilans to which was added a Lion "passant" on the red background or "diaper" above the shield in the position called "chief". There are also Lions of England "differenced" with the Tudor rose as Supporters. The new motto following the granting of the royal charter is Semper Vigilans Rege Adjuvante which means "Always watchful with the assistance of the King". The quill pen which was in silver in the original Grant is now in gold in the new Grant, in token of the golden pen fashioned like a quill which the Institute presented to Princess Mary and the Duke of York on their respective weddings in 1922 and 1923 which in each case was used for the signing of the marriage register.