Bristol Fashion

Today’s image is another new aviation design area, but something the entire blog could be about. Aircraft company logos.


Often overlooked today, all successful aircraft companies were very brand aware a century before the term was known as it is today, and that usually included distinctive logos, logotypes and fonts. Starting in the 1900s, aircraft companies were creating brand identities only decades after the first copyright logo in the 1870s, that of the Bass Brewery.

Here I’ve chosen the logo of the Bristol Aeroplane Company – a design so powerful it has subsumed the full name of the company, originally the British and Colonial Aeroplane Company, based in the British city of Bristol, and in the aeronautical context taking over ownership of that word from the city to their business.


‘Bristol’, in aviation, meant ‘Bristol aircraft’ for much of the Twentieth Century. The Bristol logotype (a logo made from a word) has notable stylistic similarities with two American companies whose logotypes are very familiar today, worldwide – Coca Cola (designed in the late nineteenth century) and Ford (1907 – and not, as widely believed, Henry Ford’s signature). Here is an example from later on the blog of the Bristol logotype in use.

Why today? On the 1st of March, 1914, the first military operated flight in Australia was made by Lieutenant Eric Harrison at Point Cook, Victoria, in a Bristol Military Biplane, or Boxkite. In 2014, the replica Boxkite VH-XKT, built for the RAAF Museum by Project 2014 flew and opened the two day Centenary of Military Aviation airshow at RAAF Point Cook, and I’m very proud to have been a Project 2014 member. A special moment was the presentation of the Bristol logo adorned cake made by Beverley Laing after the second round of testing prior to the airshow on 19 September 2013.

Boxkite Project

RAAF Photo by Corporal Amanda Campbell. L-R Group Captain Ron Gretton AM, Air Vice Marshal Mark Skidmore, AM, Wing Commander Geoff Matthews, OAM, all RAAF (Ret) and James Kightly. And Bristol cake. Don’t forget the cake. And the post title? Once the phrase ‘Ship shape and Bristol fashion’ meant well sorted out, or tidy. And a video of the replica on that March 2014 date can be seen here, with a photograph of the original Boxkite in flight in 1914.

James Kightly, Vintage Aero Writer.

Images: Bristol logo from the Wikipedia company page linked above, Bristol advertisement, author’s collection, and photograph from the ADF-Images website and via the photographer.


4 Comments Add yours

  1. Errol Cavit says:

    An absolute classic as you say. I was lucky enough to see a sort-of original Bristol Fighter (engine and substantial parts of fuselage are original) fly last weekend.
    Bristol F.2B Fighter ZK-BRI

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