A simple solution to a complex problem
Karl Gerstner's 1978 logo for Swissair
When Swissair introduced its modernist corporate identity programme in 1953 it was seen as significant achievement. Through the pioneering work of Rudolf Bircher, the airline was able to clearly express itself as a modern, resolute and dynamic airline visually through a cohesive design system, consistently applied to aircraft, vehicles, ground equipment, offices and advertising.
However, by 1978, air travel had significantly changed. Airlines had upgraded their fleets for the jet age and falling fares saw commercial air travel take off. The airline management felt that, to meet these cultural and technological shifts, it was necessary to update the airline’s values and image.
In the process of modernising their fleet and ahead of their upcoming 50th anniversary in 1981, Swissair commissioned Swiss designer Karl Gerstner to develop a fresh new livery for its aircraft. Gerstner went all in, presenting Swissair with a completely new visual identity and logo design.
Keep reading to see Gerstner’s early design explorations, discover the process behind the selection of the typeface and learn about the subtle changes to the Swissair red.