This article was first published in the summer of 2019 as part of a 100 part series on the history of British Airways and its predecessor airlines, Imperial Airways, BOAC and BEA. You can browse the full series of 100 stories in numerical order, by theme or by decade.
The Landor livery was the second livery introduced after the operations of BEA and BOAC merged under the British Airways brand from 1974.
It replaced the the first livery designed by Negus & Negus. The livery was designed by Landor Associates in San Francisco which was founded by the late Walter Landor who designed brand identities for Levi, General Electric and Fuji Film. This was in itself a controversial decision amongst British designers, but reflected BA’s global ambitions at the time.
The livery was officially unveiled on 4 December 1984. It features a deep midnight blue colour for the undersides and engines, a red speedwing and pearl grey for the upper fuselage and tail. The quarter Union Jack from the Negus livery was retained, with the BA coat of arms on the tail fin.
The Landor livery cost $1million to design. Of course, it extended far beyond aircraft. It encompassed a complete redesign of BA’s visual identity. Landor Associates spent 18 months on the project, including 4 months travelling on the BA network to carry out a “visual audit” and conducting over 1,000 interviews.
The concept behind the Landor livery was an emphasis on precision, whilst retaining BA’s British identity, and to present the company as fit for its planned privatisation. It wasn’t received with universal acclaim. Some British designers, perhaps expecting a modernist design, derided it as regressive and mediocre. Others mocked the inclusion of the BA coat of arms on the tail fin.
The Landor livery was retained until 1997 and the ill-fated World Tailfins.