Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Walter Landor 100

Today is the 100th birthday of Walter Landor, founder of Landor Associates, one of the world's leading branding firms. He was born as Walter Landauer in Munich, Germany, on July 9, 1913. The son of a prominent architect he was strongly influenced by the modernist movement and realized that ha wanted to design for a living. After studies and practice in London, he eventually came to the United States where settled down in San Francisco and founded Walter Landor & Associates in 1941 with his wife Josephine.

For its first twenty years in existence, Walter Landor did a lot of work in packaging. Much of his success was built on designing beer labels. It wasn't until the 1960s that he would fully venture into the nascent corporate identity field. Since then, Landor Associates has produced thousands of brand marks for prominent clients around the world.

A full biography can be found Landor's website. This post will celebrate Walter Landor's legacy by featuring some of his firm's earlier brand marks from the 50s up until 1974, when Walter Landor retired from day-to-day operations.

Landor was known for pioneering some research-based methods for brand strategy, but that didn't stop his firm from also producing beautiful design. Some are classic design cases, others all but forgotten.

Bel-Air was a brand for frozen food from the Safeway supermarket chain.

Landor's first corporate identity programme was for the Trans-Mountain Oil Pipeline, built to transport oil from Canada to California. Landor's logo for the company was a bit messy with its combination of monogram and illustration, but the simple image of a pipeline running towards the viewer is an interesting one. It is actually still in use today, albeit somewhat modified.

States Line was a shipping company operating on transatlantic routes from San Francisco. Landor created a full corporate identity programme for them in the 50s. (Source)

Computer Engineering Associates in Pasadena, California was a computer company. (Source)

The San Francisco-based Wells Fargo bank has always been proud of its roots and used a stagecoach in its ads as a symbol of the pioneering spirit of the West. This revived version of the stagecoach was created by Landor for the merger with the American Trust Company.

Canned foods producer Del Monte had used an intricate shield logo since the beginning of the century and came to Landor to have it updated. They simplified the logo, whilst keeping its recognisable. The design has been updated incrementally through the years, but the legacy of the Landor version was still apparent in the updated version launched this year.

Leslie Salt was a salt producer in California. (Source)

The Clark Gum Company was a maker of chewing gum.

Landor redesigned its first airline in the late 60s, and they didn't start small. Italy's national airline Alitalia received a complete makeover that would last for decades. An "oblique" version of this logo is still used today.

When creating new packaging for Ore-Ida frozen foods in the late 60s, Landor also redesigned the logo with a new double-leaf design. An updated version of this logo is still used today.

Bank of America had grown quickly to become a national bank. Landor sought to give the giant bank a more personal image by designing a monogram, the sign of a person. In 1998, it was acquired by competitor NationsBank who took the name Bank of America but introduced a new corporate identity, created by Enterprise IG.

Landor created the iconic "batwing" logo for Levi Strauss jeans, inspired by the stitching on the back pockets.

The Irwin Memorial Blood Bank was a blood center in San Francisco. Merged into Blood Centers of the Pacific in 1997.

Bud of California was a fresh produce company.

The food conglomerate Consolidated Foods was united under this symbol in 1971. In the mid-80s, it would change its name to Sara Lee Corporation. (Source)

Golden Gate Transit, the public transportation system for the North Bay area, north of San Francisco. The logo was an abstraction of the red bridge and its surroundings, which was more evident in the color version. This logo was replaced over ten years ago, but can still be seen around the area.

Landor has branded many cruise lines through the years. An early example was Royal Viking Line, launched in 1972 with a lovely bird/tulip symbol designed by Walter Landor & Associates.

A new trademark for cotton growers, introduced in 1973.

Landor designed lots of logos for local and regional banks at the time. One example was the First Wisconsin National Bank logo, introduced in 1973.

Landor identified the image of Hawaiian Airlines as being primarily about tourism and leisure and designed a symbol dubbed the "pualani" to express this. (The logo presented above is an updated version and not Landor's original design.)

In 1974, Florida banking group United First Florida Bank became Flagship Banks, Inc. One cannot not like this sailing boat symbol Landor created for this namechange. Flagship Banks was acquired by Sun Banks in 1984.

This article is partly based on classic cases section on Landor's website and a bunch of contemporary sources.