Designs on a new brand world

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The Independent Online

The design duo responsible for the controversial British Airways multicoloured tailfins and the demotion of St Michael as a brand are leaving the business they created.

The design duo responsible for the controversial British Airways multicoloured tailfins and the demotion of St Michael as a brand are leaving the business they created.

Frances Newell and John Sorrell waved goodbye to Interbrand Newell & Sorrell on Friday. Their departure came 24 years after they founded the company in a north London living room and three years after they merged the original business with the international corporate identity group, Interbrand.

Mr Sorrell told the Independent on Sunday: "We are moving on so we can do lots of other things."

The duo revolutionised the use of design in corporate Britain. Along with Wolf Olins, they completely changed the way the City and business looked at corporate identity. Their company is best known in the UK for its work on British Airways' livery. It replaced the traditional look, based on the Union Jack, with multicoloured designs, based on the work of artists in the countries the airline flew to.

The designs were massively unpopular and British Airways' then chief executive, Bob Ayling, was forced to reverse the decision. The debacle contributed to him losing his job earlier this year.

Mr Sorrell later claimed that the whole issue had been played up by the media. "It was an attempt to change the identity of an organisation, which is always controversial," he said.

Recently Interbrand Newell & Sorrell courted further controversy with a new look for Marks & Spencer. Its radical plan is to stop the St Michael brand bring used universally on Marks & Spencer products, keeping it merely as a mark of excellence on certain products.

The agency also came up with the new name of PricewaterhouseCoopers for the combined accounting firms Price Waterhouse and Coopers & Lybrand.

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