An ‘IBM Crown’
Henrion Design Associates 1961 logo for KLM.
Koninklijke Luchtvaart Maatschappij (Royal Dutch Airlines) abbreviated to KLM, was founded in 1919 and is the flag carrying airline of The Netherlands. Even in the 1960s it was among the oldest and best known international airlines, and was a widespread organisation with operations all over the world.
In 1960, KLM entered the jet age, introducing the Douglas DC-8 into its fleet. As noted in Idea 114, “a large corporation can rarely afford to make a sudden and complete break with its past, even if its management wishes to do so”. The introduction of new aircraft presented an opportune moment for KLM management to address issues it was having with its visual identity. It was felt that, at the time, the airlines’ corporate identity was perceived as being ‘out of date’. And further, the company was struggling to standardise this visual identity throughout a widespread and growing global operation. And zooming in, the graphic elements didn’t function well, specifically, the diagonal stripes changed direction relative to the side of the vehicle it was being used on.
Although KLM management were said to have been open to an entirely new logo, market research had suggested that the initials KLM, the crown and the stripes were well-established. They were widely recognised and carried with them the association of goodwill on the part of passengers. However, these elements were lacking a sense of modernity and a coherently governed design policy as it continued to grow.
Keep reading to discover the changes that were made to the KLM stripes and its lettering. See the variations of the crown that were tested, and get an understanding of the ‘abbreviations’ that formed a flexible system that accounted for the broad range of applications faced by an airline.