The History of the "Racing Stripe"

The History of the “Racing Stripe”

Emblem and Brand Part I: The United States Coast Guard

In rhe modern history of rhe Unired Srares Coasr Guard, rhere has been a rapid shifr from misraken identiry and anonymiry ro a recognizable brand identiry.

The History of the “Racing Stripe” One anecdore provides a perfect example of rhis mistaken identiry.

On ocean station in O crober 1956, the cutter Pontchartrain held responsibiliry fo r coming to the aid of a downed transoceanic passenger aircraft.

On rhe 19 rhe Pan American clipper Sovereign of the Skies lost two of its engines en roure from H awaii to Califo rnia.

After the aircraft radioed the cutter and dirched nearby, the Pontchartrain sent our irs small boats and gathered up all thirry-one passengers and crew.

No sooner had one survivor gained the safery of the cutter’s deck, than he gratefully exclaimed,

“Thank goodness for the Navy!” This case was one of dozens in which the Coast Guard seemed unrecognizable to the public it served. John F.

Kennedy was acurely aware of the importance of imagery, having relied heavily on image-building in his successful 1960 presidential campaign.

When they moved into the White House in 1961 ,

the president and the first lady began an effort to remake the image of rhe presidency,

starring with Jacqueline Kennedy’s redecoration of the White House interior and redesign of Lafayette Square, a park locared next to the White House.

The History of the “Racing Stripe” Kennedy next undertook a redesign of the jet designated as Air Force One.

He felr an initial design and paint scheme provided by the Air Force was too regal looking,

 so on the advice of the First Lady he rnrned to French-born industrial designer Raymond Loewy, whose work had been recognized the world over during rhe posr-war period.

Loewy’s Air Force One design won immediate praise from Kennedy and rhe press,

and rhe aircrafr became an important symbol of rhe president and the United States in offi cial visits across the country and overseas.

One, Kennedy granted Loewy’s request for a meeting on 13 May 1963. During that meeting and another the subsequent day,

the men discussed improving the visual image of the federal government,

and Kennedy suggested the Coast Guard as an appropriate agency to start wirh.

Shordy afrer rhe meetings, rhe design firm of Raymond Loewy/ W illiam Snaith, Inc., received a contract fo r a ninery-day feasibiliry study and, in January 1964,

the firm presented its findings to Coast Guard leadership.

With its experi en ce in designing industry trademarks, Loewy/Snaith recommended rhat the Coast Guard adopt an identification device similar to a commercial trademark.

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