Logo Design Love

For graphic designers and all who love logos.

British Airways logo evolution

On 01 September 1972 The British Airways Group was established, which would eventually result in BOAC and BEA being dissolved on 31 March 1974 upon the formation of British Airways.

British Airways poster
British Airways Concorde poster, 1980s, credit

British Airways helicopter
British Airways helicopter

Old British Airways logo
British Airways logo from 1973-1982

British Airways livery
British Airways livery in 1979

British Airways livery

British Airways logo 1984
British Airways logo from 1982-1997

British Airways poster
Concorde and (likely) Queen Elizabeth 2, 1985, credit

British Airways Boeing 737-236
British Airways Boeing 737-236

British Airways logo 1997
British Airways logo from 1997-present

Designed by Newell & Sorell, 1997 (since merged with Interbrand).

“The BA ribbon is a distant echo of the Speedbird symbol first used by Imperial Airways in 1932 and then by BOAC.” (Quoted from Logo.)

British Airways logo
Photo via The Drum

British Airways guidelines
British Airways guidelines

British Airways guidelines

The British Airways brand guidelines PDF is available for download here.

Other style guide examples here.

Logo Design Love: A Guide to Creating Iconic Brand Identities, second edition

12 appreciated comments

  1. tm5

    The BA 1972 version was really bad, makes you really see the real value of the Vignelli American Airlines identity from 1968 which has only just been replaced.

    Spend wisely = update less often = saving money.

  2. Mark Iliff

    I’m sure there was a time – during the first ID – when “airways” was written in an outline typeface, so that at any distance it disappeared. I recall a German employee of mine mocking “British” as the most misguided brand an airline could have at that time …

  3. Raghu

    QM2 didn’t exist in 1985 – probably QE2

  4. I don’t think removing the dot above the ‘i’ in ‘airways’ did that early logotype any favours.

    Thanks, Raghu. Good spot.

  5. @tm5
    To be fair I think half of the Vignelli design’s problem was that it hadn’t been touched since 1968. British Airways have done it the right way by going the iterative way. It means people internally and externally get morale boosts by a refresh.

  6. I was watching the film ARGO the other day and the old 70s BA branding popped up in that.

    There is something really nice about old school aviation branding that really fitted in with the glamour of air travel back in the day.

    It’s as shame the luxury and romance has warn off with the likes of Ryanair and Easyjet.

  7. Vicky

    The latest logo looks more luxurious than the others. A great evolution. :)

  8. Saw the film Argo as well, and the british airways logo just looked stunning right away, well not the word mark, but the tail fin livery (an abstract of the british flag) in it’s simplicity it blew me away! As said, I didn’t think much of the word mark, but if it was my call, I would do a redesign (the logo they use now is becoming a bit dated, they should shed the “chrome”, but that’s just my look on things) with a modern though timeless type font (say Akkurat) and the then used tail fin, flag icon! That would be a thing of beauty… really bold and refreshing!

  9. From an arrow to ribbon, from hard to soft, the new image is more eye pleasing and elegant.

  10. The newest mark is simple, elegant, and has a natural feel to the progression. A great rebrand of such an iconic company. I don’t think the dot over the ‘i’ in or out would have any influence – the 80s version looks like a bumper for a sitcom.

  11. The development of this logo shows that sometimes a series of progressive changes works better than a complete overhaul. As designers sometimes we have an urge to move away completely from a previous concept when all that is needed is some careful tweaks and adjustments. Good Job.

  12. Ted Wu

    The present “floating ribbon” logo is just what it is: Something floating aimlessly, without saying or representing any thing. It could be there or not there, does not making any difference to the image. What a weak turn from the previous design in 1979. A quarter union jack, which clearly said what it represented and said it most beautifully and strongly.


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