Born: May 8, 1920, The Bronx, New York City, United States
Died: April 25, 1996, Los Angeles, California, United States
Getting his start
Bass was born in 1920 in New York City, to Jewish immigrants. A creative child, he drew constantly. For college, he attended night classes at the Art Students League where he had the fortune of studying under György Kepes, a master of the functional Bauhaus aesthetic.
Saul Bass might be the single most accomplished graphic designer in history. Working in the mid 20th century, when the importance of graphic design was just on the upswing, Bass branded a staggering array of major corporations with his iconic, minimal designs.
Bass’s “jetstream” logo helped Continental become one of the most recognizable airlines of the ’70s — he wanted to project an image that was “high tech,” “friendly,” and “large.” While we get what Onoma Design was going for with the “global” update, the end result is both more generic and less memorable.
Bass’s graphic Dixie logo manages to be playful and classic at the same time — kind of like a Marimekko print. Add some color, italicize the text, and turn the whole thing on its head (literally), and the end result is a lot less mod, and a lot more cheesy.
n 1969, Bass was tasked with reimagining the visual identity of the American Bell Telephone Company, commonly referred to as “Ma Bell,” in an effort to modernize the old-timey bell-and-circle logo by eliminating its datedness but preserving its comforting familiarity. This rare footage captures the full half-hour of Bass and his team’s original pitch to Bell, which envisioned an entire ecosystem of identity well beyond the logo — signage, print, outdoor, and even executive cufflinks. The pitch could well have been masterminded by Don Draper, itself a fascinating and layered piece of cultural history covering the evolution of consumerism through the story of the telephone and the larger context of changing social expectations.
In September 1974, United introduced a new logo designed by famed logo creator Saul Bass. The logo features a stylized U that is slanted by 68 degrees. It is sometimes nicknamed “the tulip”.
Saul Bass’ logo was designed to “Convey United Way as a contemporary organization, sensitive to the changing needs of our society”. Its three elements — the Rainbow, the Person and the Helping Hand — are at the core of United Way’s mission. The Rainbow is “A blending of human diversity, creates harmony and unity of purpose. [It] springs from the helping hand, representing the hope of a better life possible through United Way”. Then, the Person, “The symbol of mankind, is cradled by the helping hand. It shows that all people are uplifted by United Way”. And lastly, the Helping Hand, that “Symbolizes the services and program supported by United Way.”
The Girl Scout logo was designed in 1978 by Saul Bass, one of the greatest graphic designers in history. The logo, with its clever use of negative space, is a minimalist, yet very powerful, innovative and self-explanatory representation of the organization’s core values.
The Girl Scout logo comprises of three silhouetted faces of women, diagonal to one another. The emblem portrays a message of strength and self-confidence. It also women encourages the women to take part in community service and helping others.
The outline of the Girl Scouts logo reflects three leaves, reminding girls of the three parts to the Girl Scout Promise. The classic shortbread cookie is also made in this shape.