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United and Continental historical logos and liveries.

United and Continental historical logos and liveries.

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Old Apr 25, 20, 12:02 pm   -   Wikipost
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Images of UA and CO logos through the ages will be posted here for reference. I will continue to add once I get my images















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Old Apr 17, 20, 9:10 pm
  #1  
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United and Continental historical logos and liveries.

* I am expanding the thread discussion to cover historical liveries of both airlines now. Images are now being posted in the wiki post above*

I guess being stuck at home provided a lot of time for me to surf the web, and I came across images of various CO and UA logos.
Interestingly Saul Bass did design the logs for both UA (1974) and CO (1968) at certain points in time.

Someone on the web expressed the globe logo was dated and does not reflect PMUA, and designed a combined Saul Bass logos (see the last image in this post). I am not a designer or artistic, but I thought the combined Saul Bass logos does not look bad, and with the some tweaks and balanced colors, it may still look better than the globe.




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Last edited by UA_Flyer; Apr 18, 20 at 10:29 am
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Old Apr 17, 20, 9:19 pm
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My favorite UA logos are 1954-1974.
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Old Apr 17, 20, 9:54 pm
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Bass was big in logos - had manny winners.

Also liked the “T” from the last pmUA styling too.
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Old Apr 17, 20, 10:22 pm
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I like both Bass logos individually, but I’m afraid the sum is far less than the parts.
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Old Apr 17, 20, 10:45 pm
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There is one logo we may never see. It was a branding that Michael Bierut, partner at the New York office of Pentagram Design (Hillary H logo, new Slack Logo, NYC subway maps, etc.) shared with Smisek in the days after the merger - combing both CO and UA. Pentagram took over the Untied account in 1997 and made the Flying T and tulip we all came to love.

This website doesn't work anymore, but I did quote from it awhile ago. Wish I had saved the whole article and photos, because it included a logo for "United Loop", a proposal of which would ultimately become "Ted by United".

Originally Posted by Jessica Haas
Secondly, Bierut shared his final presentation with United for the new identity for the merger of United and Continental. Starting simply with logotypes and introducing new globes (Continental’s icon). The ideas to were for a new look yet still similar to what both United and Continental designs had. The concepts to me seemed strong and modern. In the end, United went with another design firm and by the looks of it they didn’t seem to have much creative room with the client. United basically wanted the existing Continental globe with the name United spelled out with the same typeface that Continental used in the past, with some tweaks. A safe and happy medium for the United businessmen but not for the rest of the us who see it as same old, same old. I think as designers we can all agree that United may have missed a great opportunity to reinvent themselves.
Old link: https://newsblog.jessicahaasdesigns....nitedairlines/

I've written to Mr. Bierut multiple times but never got a response. To see what that looked like would be a great bucket list item in life, to be honest.

Here's some thoughts from a team member of Mr. Bierut's at Pentagram who worked along side him for 8 years on the United project:

Since 1997, United has retained Pentagram as its brand identity consultant. I spent eight years working on the United identity redesign and rollout and then another four years consulting alongside Michael Bierut and Daniel Weil — the partners in charge at Pentagram. To refuse to take advantage of an investment of that size — both in terms of money and braintrust — is irresponsible. Still, neither Bierut or Weil had any idea of the impending design change and found out along with the rest of us.


https://thinkso.com/news/e2-80-9cneg...a-new-identity
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Old Apr 18, 20, 12:23 am
  #6  
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Originally Posted by tuolumne View Post
This website doesn't work anymore...
Wayback has a snapshot: https://web.archive.org/web/20150106...nitedairlines/

ProTip: Always archive! I’m a big fan of Webpage archive [ address is www • archive • is ] - great resource for capturing data and sharing info/news articles/etc. that might otherwise have geo or other roadblocks
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Old Apr 18, 20, 2:47 am
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There never should’ve been any sort of hybrid livery. One name, one logo. United’s. Tulips, RIB, Houston and Newark rebranded fast.
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Last edited by WineCountryUA; Apr 28, 20 at 11:27 pm Reason: Let's stick to logo / livery discussion
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Old Apr 18, 20, 8:14 am
  #8  
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Originally Posted by UAL757222 View Post
There never should’ve been any sort of hybrid livery.
Agreed. The hybrid tulip + meatball pictured upthread would make no sense to anyone under 50. CO discarded the meatball when Bethune came in nearly 30 years ago. There's no equity there anymore.

Originally Posted by UAL757222 View Post
One name, one logo. United’s. Tulips...
A decade ago the tulip stood for many very negative associations with the flying public -- labor disputes, militant employees, marathon bankruptcy, the SFH, terrible service / performance metrics. But the Continental name had much less equity in offshore markets. Hence the weird shotgun marriage: keep the United name, slap it onto the Continental livery.

Originally Posted by UAL757222 View Post
How many Delta planes do you see with the NW livery? The fact that Continental still gets mentioned (and by the company too) is proof the merger execution was a complete and utter failure.
Remember that DL made it a first-tier priority to erase the Northwest brand as quickly as possible, and that the NW fleet was stainless steel + decals at that point which made rebranding the airplanes go faster -- IMO a deliberate NW step taken when the airline was in its buy-me-please phase.
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Old Apr 18, 20, 8:52 am
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UA Tulip from 74-93 was the best one. I miss the old United.
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Old Apr 18, 20, 9:04 am
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Originally Posted by BearX220 View Post
A decade ago the tulip stood for many very negative associations with the flying public -- labor disputes, militant employees, marathon bankruptcy, the SFH, terrible service / performance metrics. But the Continental name had much less equity in offshore markets. Hence the weird shotgun marriage: keep the United name, slap it onto the Continental livery.
I make no bones about having been a very happy Continental customer. To be frank, aside from E+, the merger has brought my world very little tangible benefit.

Now, that said ... every time I saw a tulip - pre-merger - all I could think of was “old, tired, are they really still a thing?”

I can’t speak for international destinations, as that’s not my segment ... but domestically, Continental by all appearances was the much more “refreshed” airline. The fleet was uniform, freshly painted and standardized. Terminals and gates were clean and refreshed.

The tulip was just ... Worn. It’s not the tulip itself that’s the problem - of course it’s beautiful and iconic. But the number of gates with some worn out half-a-tulip, the peeling paint planes in a mix of liveries, the old signage... just projected neglect. It was prudent, of course - Signage and such is plenty functional, no matter how old... but seeing faded signs from the 70s just didn’t portray a great look in the late 2000s.

The right thing to do would’ve been a Big Bang - start over, new logo, new future. But given the climate at the time, if I had to pick A or B, (globe or tulip) - I would’ve picked A too.
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Old Apr 18, 20, 9:08 am
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Originally Posted by dmurphynj View Post
...seeing faded signs from the 70s just didn’t portray a great look in the late 2000s.
I don't know if it's still the case, but until a year or two ago at least, you could walk through SFO and pick out bits and pieces of United signage / branding from the Saul Bass era -- a visual identity theoretically retired when Stephen Wolf's Death Star look came in in the early 1990s. United never made crisp, uniform branding any kind of priority.

They did change the master brand compulsively though -- six distinct looks 1970-2019 (Friend Ships, Bass / tulip, Death Star, overscanned tulip post-BK, hybrid meatball, evolved / recolored meatball II) -- a period when American deemed the number of necessary livery changes to be one.

Last edited by BearX220; Apr 18, 20 at 9:13 am
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Old Apr 18, 20, 10:19 am
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Old Apr 18, 20, 10:24 am
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Originally Posted by BearX220 View Post
I don't know if it's still the case, but until a year or two ago at least, you could walk through SFO and pick out bits and pieces of United signage / branding from the Saul Bass era -- a visual identity theoretically retired when Stephen Wolf's Death Star look came in in the early 1990s. United never made crisp, uniform branding any kind of priority.

They did change the master brand compulsively though -- six distinct looks 1970-2019 (Friend Ships, Bass / tulip, Death Star, overscanned tulip post-BK, hybrid meatball, evolved / recolored meatball II) -- a period when American deemed the number of necessary livery changes to be one.
Pentagram was brought on board in 1997 to overhaul the brand out of battleship.

Well, the dot com, followed by 9/11, and then Ch 11. made this all a very long process. First, the type face (1998) changed, then the rising blue livery (2005). This was purely because United was not a rich airline after prolonger crisis, so I don't hold this against them - these were prudent measures to take, while still remaining committed to the top to bottom overhaul Pentagram did in every facet of the United business.

Smisek said after the merger:

"The United name is very well recognized internationally, Continental’s logo is symbolic of great culture and service.”, and later went on to tell the NYT that the Continental name was more synonymous with a tire brand outside of the US (can't find that quote at the moment).

I personally think the Pentagram-designed United showcased a regal, proud, and ultimately sophisticated look to the rest of the world for the airline that has arguably always been the US's premier international flag carrier, picking up the torch from Pan Am. To go from something specifically created for 15 years from the countries best designers, to well, "meat and potatoes", everyday Joe type stuff - well, to say I felt sucker punched still hasn't gone away. I will always cherish the work Pentagram did - I think the work for United (and Fallon Worldwide's post Ch. 11 "It's Time to Fly" campaign), being a United fan non-withstanding, was some of the best in global aviation, ever.

Pentagram still has their United work on their website: https://www.pentagram.com/work/united-airlines/story
- That Star Alliance logo we all see today was also designed by, well, you guessed it!
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Last edited by tuolumne; Apr 18, 20 at 10:37 am
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Old Apr 18, 20, 10:46 am
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Originally Posted by tuolumne View Post
Pentagram was brought on board in 1997 to overhaul the brand out of battleship.Well, the dot com, followed by 9/11, and then Ch 11. made this all a very long process.
Had this been complete, I would've completely agreed with you. But it wasn't. (and again, I'm not saying United wasn't prudent - surely they were.). And I do love Pentagram's work - it really was a "complete" branding.

But being objective for a moment - you had one company with a mish-mash of logos, signage, liveries and branding. And one which was ruthlessly consistent, for better or worse.

They chose consistent. And I don't think anyone could ever convince me that cost wasn't the overriding factor.

One fleet (CO) had planes with recent paint, all in good condition.
The other (UA) had at least 3 different liveries, all in various states of disrepair. Some worse than others, but as a whole, the fleet was looking very tired.

If they had chosen, say, Rising Blue -- both the UA and CO fleets would've needed a full tip-to-tail repaint.
By choosing the CO logo, they could repaint the UA fleet, and just change the lettering on the CO fleet. Saving a pile of cash. And keeping those CO planes out of service a lot less. (Winding the clock back, CO was known for a very very high fleet utilization ...)

Same with signage and gates and such - we see lots of examples where the word "Continental" was scraped off, and United put in place, but the rest of the branding remains the same.

I'm convinced it was primarily a cost move. Keeping the CO logo and changing the lettering was an immediate-cost-savings move. And - let's be frank - would picking the tulip increase sales? I doubt it.
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Old Apr 18, 20, 10:47 am
  #15  
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The last UAUA is my favorite followed by the ‘74-‘93.

Removing CO yellow, removing CO from the holding company...baby steps towards something to be proud of again. Last step is removing the clip art logo. Having the main logo required to be in a blue box is pathetic.
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