An Icon Designs An Icon

What do AT&T, Geffen Records, Girls Scouts, Hanna-Barbera, Kleenex, Warner Bros., the Wienerschnitzel and United Way of Greenville County all have in common?

They all had iconic logos designed by legendary artist Saul Bass.

Just as United Way was emerging as a movement of rising national significance, Bass was tapped to develop a new logo. He had already created some of the most recognizable corporate logos (AT&T, Quaker Oats, Lawry’s Foods) and designed title sequences from classic films (West Side Story, North By Northwest, Psycho), before he came up with the iconic United Way look: a helping hand, under a rainbow, with symbolized humanity at the center.

The idea was to “Convey United Way as a contemporary organization, sensitive to the changing needs of our society.”

While our organization — and the logo — have evolved in the 50 years since the brandmark’s creation, its three central elements — the Rainbow, the Person and the Helping Hand — are still at the core of our mission:

  • The Rainbow is “A blending of human diversity, creates harmony and unity of purpose. [It] springs from the helping hand, representing the hope of a better life possible through United Way”.
  • The Person, “The symbol of mankind, is cradled by the helping hand. It shows that all people are uplifted by United Way”.
  • And lastly, the Helping Hand, that “Symbolizes the services and programs supported by United Way.”

While still using the “United Fund of Greenville County” moniker, the local organization began using Bass’ logo immediately, with its first appearance being on the 1972 annual report, alongside the national organization’s campaign theme: “Thanks to You, It’s Working.”

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