Saul Bass is typically remembered for his stunning opening sequences to Hitchcock movies, as was underscored by Google's homepage tribute to the legendary filmmaker on Wednesday, to mark what would have been his 93rd birthday.
He attracted attention first for title credits for the 1955 film "The Man with the Golden Arm" and that was followed by his popular typographic turn for Alfred Hitchcock, creating the sequences for "Vertigo" and "North by Northwest" the latter which has been said to have inspired the opening to AMC's TV show "Mad Men." He did a lot of work for Martin Scorsese too, creating the openings for films such as "Cape Fear" and "Goodfellas."
But as successful as he was in Hollywood, he was a commercial star too.
Bass was prolific as a logo designer. His signature style and method behind conveying company identities have had true lasting power and still win admiration from the graphic design community today. Christian Annyas, a web designer, in 2011 studied Bass' creations for longevity to discover that the average lifespan of one of Saul Bass' logos is a staggering 34 years. That's a heck of a long time when you consider the amount of mergers, management changes and switches of agency partners big corporations and entities he worked with go through.
Logos for Quaker Oats, United, Minolta, the Girl Scouts of America, Dixie cups, Frontier Airlines, United Way, General Foods, AT&T, and Geffen Records were all rendered by Bass. And many of the logos that have been tweaked over the years, such as Kleenex, still stay true to his original vision and remain largely inspired by Bass' suggestions.
Last year, Maria Popova's blog Brain Pickings featured a piece of rare footage of Bass in 1969 reimagining the visual identity of the American Bell Telephone Company. The half-hour long video captures the designer and his team's original pitch to Bell, in which Bass explains his vision for a broad identity plan that extended not just to letterhead and print ads, but even would encompass cufflinks that execs work. "The pitch could well have been masterminded by Don Draper, itself a fascinating and layered piece of cultural history covering the evolution of consumerism through the story of the telephone and the larger context of changing social expectations," Popova wrote.