This video was produced by Saul Bass to pitch the brand executives the Bell System logo redesign. The first 13 minutes of the video provide a great primer on identity design. The actual pitch starts around 13:00. I really appreciate how Bass presents his work and explains why he made the choices he did. He briefly goes through options that didn’t work and why. It’s no wonder the executives purchased his work as it was originally presented.

Saul Bass’ work in logo design and movie title credit sequences spanned the latter half of the 20th century, with prominent work in each field. He worked closely with AT&T, designing not only the 1970 “bell” logo that was ubiquitous for a decade, but also, upon the divestiture of AT&T, he designed the original “death star” logo, unveiled in 1984.

One reason for this bell logo’s ubiquity? That redesign was the largest corporate re-identity program in the U.S., ever. The redesign covered:

  • 135,000 Bell system vehicles
  • 22,000 buildings
  • 1,250,000 phone booths
  • 170,000,000 telephone directories

This film was made by his company as a presentation to AT&T executives. It would have extended to be shown to the public, but a number of his ideas in the film were not ultimately adopted, like his phone booth designs, and men’s and women’s uniforms. But a great many were—including, most memorably, the telephone vans and hardhat designs of the 1970s. He designed down to the details, showcasing in this film a myriad of ideas, right down to the yellow pages book designs, cufflinks for executives, and flags.

Bass’ other very recognizable logo designs that persist today include those for Minolta, Girl Scouts of America, Avery International, Geffen Records, Warner Int’l, and many more. Bass’ design for AT&T was the foundation for the logo that the company has today, redesigned in 2005 by Interbrand.

Produced by Saul Bass
Footage courtesy of AT&T Archives and History Center, Warren, NJ
For more from the AT&T Archives, visit http://techchannel.att.com/archives

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