ciAnnait – Raymond Loewy: Logographic Designer

Posted: March 19, 2012 by kinnit in Uncategorized

While Raymond Loewy is considered the father of Industrial design, he is also famous for his logo designs, and his work on branding, re-branding and package design.

The old package

Ironic but original

During his lengthy and esteemed career, this talented and creative individual began designing logos in 1940, after the president of American Tobacco bet Loewy $50,000 that he could not improve the package design for Lucky Strike cigarettes.

Not only did he accept the wager, but he produced a package design that has been continuously in use until the present day. His version removed the need for more expensive green dye, strengthened the target theme, sharpened the typography, and placed the logo on three sides of the package increasing its visual presence in the marketplace.


Subtly reworked image of Loewy's enduring design

He was very much a product of his era, of his country of citizenship, and his enormous success as a designer; and he understood well what made people buy one product over another,

‘between two products equal in price, function, and quality, the better looking will outsell the other.’

It was Raymond Loewy who proved that the success of a product is as dependent on aesthetics as function: ‘the goal of design is to sell,’ he said. ‘and to drive the point home, the loveliest curve I know is the sales curve.’

The evolution of Shell

It was also Raymond Loewy who came up with the familiar Shell logo in 1971, that is still in use today. The red and yellow were originally used to stand out in the field of corporate designs that were emerging in the late 1940’s, and while the colors and shape remained the same, Loewy gave the logo a more streamlined sharp look which promoted their corporate reputation and stood for the quality of their products, their professionalism, and values in their business activities.

His work is also represented by other petroleum giants Esso, who were looking to rebrand…

…and by BP

BP’s very distinctive logo was only replaced in 1999, when it formed a lot of other companies, and wanted to promote itself as ‘Beyon Petroleum’ as a balance to its image as a pollution merchant. Unfortunately for BP, but fortunately for the rest of us, its logo has become a meme of protest against its environmental disasters. Perhaps they should have stuck with the original!

Anyway, back to the point…Raymond Loewy is described as a man who positioned and promoted himself as adeptly as he did his client’s products. His image as a trendy jetsetter, with luxurious yachts, glamourous homes and offices around the world, contributed to winning the confidence of large corporate clients. Indeed he is quoted as boasting that by 1951, his industrial design firm was so prolific that:

“the average person, leading a normal life, whether in the country, a village, a city, or a metropolis, is bound to be in daily contact with some of the things, services, or structures in which R.L.A [Raymond Loewy Associates] was a party during the design or planning stage.”

Prolific and iconic

You too are probably in daily contact with one or more of them.


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