Continental Airlines Logo

Continental Airlines Logo
Now-defunct Continental Airlines went through five logotypes. The reasons for an update were different, from the desire to look more patriotic or modern to the need for distancing itself from the negative past.

Meaning and history

Continental Airlines Logo history

1934

The company was established in 1934 as Varney Speed Lines (named after one of its initial owners, Walter T. Varney). The original Continental Airlines logo was a red roundel with an outline of an aircraft in white in the middle. The aircraft was encircled by the lettering “Varney Speed Lines” (above) and “Fastest Airline in the World” (below). The lettering was placed in between two rings.
Both the aircraft emblem and the writing were given in white.

1937

The new design alluded to the national symbols of the US, including the eagle and colors of the flag. By using the eagle, the design forces behind the brand combined the national symbol with the bird as a symbol of aviation. While the circle remained, it was now white with thin blue, red, and gray trim.
The typography grew better legible.

1960

The Continental Airlines logo was dominated by gold and white with black accents. The eagle became smaller – it was now housed inside an ellipse symbolizing the globe. The word “Continental” became more prominent – it grew larger and was now placed above “the globe.”
Strangely, the lettering “Continental” was used for the second time inside the ellipse. Here, it was smaller and was paired with the word “Airlines.”

1967-1968

The new logo was created by graphic designer Saul Bass, who later developed the logos for United Airlines and Frontier Airlines as well as quite a few other well-known companies.
The emblem, which was nicknamed “Jet Stream logo,” featured a red roundel housing five white curves. The shape of the curves and their position created a dynamic impression and even introduced the airline theme in a very subtle, almost subliminal level.

1991

The blue globe emblem was designed by the brand consultancy Lippincott.
This time, the Continental Airlines logo contained many more details. You could see a part of a globe with longitudes and latitudes. The image was placed inside a blue square. To the left, there was the lettering “Continental Airlines” in a serif type with varying lengths of the strokes.
Emblem Continental Airlines
The reason why the company decided to modify the brand identity was the desire to distance itself from the problems of the recent past (the bankruptcies, strikes, poor service). As Hollis Harris, the chairman, explained, the new emblem was supposed to inform the world the company is “new and improved” and is “putting the negative events of the past behind.”

Company overview

At its peak, Continental Airlines was a major United States airline boasting the fleet size of 348 (excluding subsidiaries). It flew to over 140 destinations.
Following the merger with United Airlines in the fall of 2011, the corporate entity used the United name and Continental’s visual identity.