One of the innovators of using “Figure Ground Reversal” design in branding and advertising worth mentioning is Walter Joseph Landor (1913 – 1995), who founded San Francisco-based Landor Associates in 1941.
Walter Landor is considered to be the “inventor” of modern branding strategy, and designed hundreds of famous logos. Some logos created by his firm used Figure Ground Reversal-inspired techniques including FEDEX, Apple and Bank of America. It was one of Walter Landor’s employees, Lindon Leader who created the legendary FedEx logo in 1994 while working as Landor Associates’ senior design director.
Walter Landor himself redesigned the then fifty-year old and very stale Bank of America branding and logo in 1969. The bank’s new logo icon introduced in 1969, the “BA” initials used Figure Ground Reversal, which upon closer examination, reveals a hidden seagull.
I worked part-time in the marketing department at Bank of America in the late 1970s while a student at the University of Southern California’s School of Business, and was very involved and learned many lessons while helping create many advertising and promotional campaigns using the logo and branding strategies created by Landor.
Bank of America’s seagull logo, as insiders called it, lasted thirty years until 1998, when Bank of America was purchased by Charlotte-based NationsBank, which adopted the Bank of America name with a new branding and logo for its network of NationsBank branches.