Inspiration: Logos by Saul Bass

Saul Bass logos

Saul Bass logos

Logos by Saul Bass

Most people know Saul Bass by his unique movie posters and opening movie credit design. He forged a new way of thinking about the design and elements relating to film and forever changed the designers role in the industry.

However, Bass also worked as an identity designer creating some of the strongest and most important brands, most of which are still in use today. Listed above are:

1. Bell, 1969
2. AT&T, 1984
3. United Airlines, 1973
4. Avery International, 1990
5. Continental Airlines, 1968
6. United Way, 1972
7. Minolta, 1978
8. Girl Scouts, 1978
9. Quaker Oats, 1971
10. Kleenex
11. Dixie, 1969
12. Warner Communications, 1972

If anyone knows when the Kleenex logo was created feel free to drop a comment.

60 Comments

  1. C

    Can’t forgot the timeless identities of the illustrious Paul Rand!

  2. AT&T logo is great!

  3. Wow! I had no idea Saul did these! They’re all fabulous but the Kleenex lettering is my favorite.

  4. I love the United Airlines and Girl Scout logos. Excellent examples of the use of negative space.

  5. Very impressive. It’s amazing how one person has so much in popular culture attached to his name. I recognized every single one of these logos, just not as the work of one artist.

  6. james (Author)

    I didn’t know Bass created these logos until a friend showed me the book Saul Bass and Associates. I was floored at how much stellar work Bass was responsible for, almost in disbelief that one person could do so much work.

    Unfortunately the book seems to be out of print, but there’s a post about it over at Drawn.ca.

  7. Geneva Girl

    I think that #8 would be more appropriately identified as Girl SCOUTS, not Girl Guides. I just checked the UK Guides site and they use the Trefoil logo. The Scouts use the logo shown above. (BTW, I’m a Brownie troop leader.)

  8. Raymond Loewy designed the Exxon Logo in 1966.

    The original sketch, which is dated, is in his book entitled “Industrial Design”.

    Loewy also designed the logos for Shell, BP, Lucky Strike, Canada Dry, TWA, International Harvester, Pepsodent, Greyhound, Nabisco, Sealtest…

  9. james (Author)

    Geneva Girl and Stuart, thanks very much for the corrections and additional information. I have adjusted the post accordingly.

  10. rick

    interesting history of the bell logo here: http://www.porticus.org/bell/bell_logos.html

  11. nerdkiller

    I luh luh love the kleenex font

  12. the designer

    Its a shame that only designers can respect a persons work and not be recognized by the public for who we are.

    THE PEOPLE THAT SHAPE THIS TERRIBLE WORLD

    THE DESIGNER

  13. chris

    ATT = DEATHSTAR!

  14. aguynamededdy

    “THE PEOPLE THAT SHAPE THIS TERRIBLE WORLD

    THE DESIGNER”

    Designers don’t shape the world, politicians and businessmen do. Designers try to make the world look and feel less craptacular.

  15. Wilbur

    Great. these are super. My favourite logo of all time is one i saw on the back of a recylcling truck a couple of months ago. the company is Zoeller
    >>> http://www.zoeller.co.uk/
    but i cant find any good images of their logo that are better than the one on their site

  16. Jeff

    Soulless and gawd-awful, like so much else from that time.

  17. Fans of Saul Bass should check out the one motion picture he directed, Phase IV. Phase IV is about a mysterious event (Phase I) that makes the Earth’s ants super-intelligent -not giant ants, or radioactive ants, just regular tiny creatures. Phase II: the ants unite, Phase III they wipe out enemy species, Phase IV: -well, you have to see the film. Their hives are moody and precise geometric constructions, not the usual mud-holes, and the micro-photography of the ants at home is amazing. A really striking film, visually, as you might expect from Bass. He also designed the storyboards for Hitchcock’s famous Psycho shower scene, although H gets credit for it.

  18. The Avery logo was created around 1990 by Saul Bass, an Academy Award winning film maker. He was a graphic designer best known for his motion picture title sequences.

    After the Dennison merger, the logo was created to represent the three key segments of Avery’s business:

    1. The Pressure-sensitive Materials segment manufactures and sells pressure-sensitive roll label materials, films for graphic applications, reflective highway safety products, performance polymers, and extruded films.

    2. The Office and Consumer Products segment manufactures and sells various office and consumer products, including labels, binders, dividers, sheet protectors, and writing instruments.

    3. The Retail Information Services segment designs, manufactures, and sells various price marking and brand identification products, including tickets, graphic and barcode tags and labels, woven and printed labels, and related supplies and equipment.

  19. JP

    These logos truly exhibit the far reaching expanse of good logo design. The timeliness is never outdated. The design is still as strong today as when it was first created. Thanks for sharing!

  20. trr

    I can’t see the difference in the Exxon logo – Loewy’s original to Bass’s revision. Anyone know what changed?

  21. Riddle me this: which of the logos above are still used today, in exactly the same form as above? Which of the companies still exist today? And have not been acquired by another entity?

  22. james (Author)

    Bob Lee, thanks very much for the insightful comment about the Avery logo. A very interesting read.

  23. Monte, thanks for your comment about the film “Phase IV”. I first read about the film when I was in junior high school, and I’ve been trying to find it ever since (it is not available on DVD in the U.S.) — now I am stoked to learn that Saul Bass directed this film!

  24. Mark V. McDonnell

    A somewhat contrarian take from alt-marketer extraordinaire Seth Godin:

    http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2008/09/but-youre-not-s.html

  25. John Cecconi

    INSPIRATION? Not entirely true. Saul Bass, at best, tweaked the Exxon logo. It is not a revision. I looked up the original logo in Loewy’s monograph, Industrial Design. Saul Bass removed the thick blue rule under the logotype. Whatever you want to call it, tweak or revision, his changes do not rise to the level of inspiration. The inspiration belongs entirely to Raymond Loewy. To be idiotically consistent, why not feature the revision of the AT&T logo by FutureBrand? Hopefully, that revision didn’t inspire you.

  26. james (Author)

    Monte, I had no idea Bass directed a film outside of this credit sequences. Thanks very much for the heads up, I’ll be hunting down Phase IV for sure.

    John, Saul Bass’ involvement with the Exxon logo (no matter how slight) was already addressed in my post and by other readers. Thanks for your time.

  27. Bob

    As much as I am an admirer of Saul Bass’ visual identity work I feel it is misleading to include EXXON in this group. Although Bass may have made minor revisions to it this is the work of Raymond Lowey.

  28. sum up saul bass in one word. ….BRILLIANT!

  29. Douglass

    Bass also directed “Why Man Creates”, an animated trek through time from pre-history to modern times. A classic, hard to find, but worth it. IMDB has him credited as directing 7 films total.

  30. Douglass

    BTW, “Why Man Creates” won the Documentary Short Subjects Oscar in 1969.

  31. Jon

    Dont believe the hype, they are all the same…

  32. Excellent blog! Interesting article and very informative! I will necessarily subscribe for this blog. http://movie-cool.com/map.html

  33. tammanycall

    “He also designed the storyboards for Hitchcock’s famous Psycho shower scene, although H gets credit for it.”

    Horribly late, I know, but for posterity: every member of the cast and crew dispute this assertion (which was made by Bass himself). The man was a great designer, but kind of a fibber.

  34. Donna

    Wonderful stuff!
    I am envious
    LOL
    D

  35. Rick.

    Jeff is a douche.

  36. Hugh G,
    My father, Harry Jacobs, hand lettered the Kleenex logo for Saul. He was Saul’s favorite hand-lettering artist and did a lot of work for him in the early days, when Art Goodman was Saul’s art director. Art also worked in my father’s art sudio in the 50′s called The Wilshire Art Group. My dad also taught at Chouinard Art Institute, (future Cal Arts school in Valencia, Ca.) I attended Art Center College of Design in L.A., and have taught there as well. Both of my sons graduated from Art Center, and own their own design firms. http://www.titanadgroup.com, http://www.unitedfuture.com.
    My father passed away in 2000, at the age of 93.

  37. All,
    I was fortunate to have worked with another brilliant designer and creative director for many years. Lou Dorfsman, the keeper of the CBS eye. Of course, William Golman designed the eye, but Lou did some of the most outstanding and thought-provoking marketing ever done for a TV network. His book, “Dorfsman on CBS”, is outstanding, and displays his immense brilliance and intellect. Bill Paley never approved one ad while Lou was there. He trusted him to “do his job as the marketer for CBS”, and of course we know how much that has changed over the years. The only other person I know that I also worked with that was trusted to that extent is Steve Sohmer. He also worked at CBS Network after Lou, and I had the pleasure and honor of being on his team for too short a period. (Apologies again to Steve.) Please go to this site for a brief article and some work of this genius I called a friend for years. http://www.designrelated.com/inspiration/Karen/tag/legend

  38. james (Author)

    Ray, thanks very much for your thoughtful and insightful comments. I’m thrilled to see just how many greats you have met and worked with over the years, many of which are among my design heroes. So fortunate to have witnessed so many great projects at such an important time in design evolution.

    Most of all, it is wonderful catch a glimpse of design history based upon your experiences and story. I do quite a lot of reading about design from the 50s onward so it’s awesome to hear about specific design studios where the people who forged the industry worked.

    Thanks very much Ray!

  39. Wow, great post. What timeless logos.

  40. Skipper

    tammanycall – there is no basis for you to go throwing around accusations that Saul Bass was a liar. At worst his comments have been taken out of context and misunderstood. At best, it’s Hitchcock’s honesty that would be more in question in this matter. Bass was indeed responsible for creating that incredible shower scene, just not as the on-the-spot director.

    In fact, the cast and/or crew of Psycho DO NOT dispute the assertion that Bass created and designed the story-board for the shower scene in Psycho. They couldn’t anyway because the story board designed by Bass is now in the public domain and it has been confirmed in recent research that the scene was designed – in it’s entirety – by Saul Bass (as well as another murder scene in the movie – see Bill Krohn’s “Hitchcock at Work”, Phaidon Press, 2003)

    The question that the cast and crew were asked was if Saul Bass directed the scene on the set and of course he didn’t. Bass never said he did. Bass’s assertion was that he PARTICIPATED in the direction. And indeed he did participate in the direction, very much so, as you’ll see if you look at the story boards. But Bass’s participation in the direction was at the story-board stage, his directions were on paper. Hitchcock simply put them on film. People got their knickers in a knot without stopping to think about what’s involved in directing and how many ways there are to participate in directing without actually being on set telling everyone what to do.

    When Hitchcock directed this scene he followed the storyboards created by Bass so slavishly that the actors are renowned for having complained about how specific and regimented Hitchcock was in sticking to the exact details of “his” story-board. For the most part the actors were not told the story-boards were created and devised by someone else.

    And this is why Bass is credited in the films titles (albeit grudgingly as being for “Pictorial graphics” as well as separately for designing the titles) and it’s also why the scene is so very reminiscent of Bass’s style. IMO He should have been given more credit for his work on this scene but Bass didn’t seem to mind too much.

  41. Jelly Helm

    He stole the Girl Scout logo from the cookie! It’s an exact rip off!

    http://combatlamaladie.files.wordpress.com/2009/01/girl-scout-cookies.jpg

  42. james (Author)

    Jelly, I would assume the cookie was based on the logo, not the other way around. But hey, I could be wrong.

  43. Pamela M.

    I’ve been doing some research and I think that Saul Bass designed “the architecture” of Esso and Exxon gasoline stations…

    Great work!

  44. wadeforit

    So many victims here. The disregard for the for thoughtful design and it’s history is staggering: Not only did some group of big-business geniuses scrap the name of the inventor of the telephone: BELL, in favor of the made up soulless moniker VERIZON, they also threw out the simple and iconic logo. All in the name of being “contemporary” no doubt.
    The United logo is the most recent tragedy. Continental and United have apparently come to some sort of middle-ground and combined the forgettable Continental spinning globe logo with the updated and equally forgettable UNITED AIRLINES typography:http://www.united.com/

    These two cases are a sad commentary of the state of graphic designed in corporate America.

  45. Kerry

    The Kleenex one is on the uspto.gov site and shows it registered in 1993 (applied in 1992).

  46. Stephen matthews

    I believe Kleenex was launched in 1924 and the logo was used on the box so unless i’m wrong that would be the year the logo was created.

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