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  • Girl Scouts - The New Face

    This vintage poster was created by Saul Bass to announce the new trademark for the face of The Girl Scouts of America

    The commission to modernize the image of the The Girl Scouts grew out of redesigning Girl Scout cookie boxes for the Burry division of Quaker. Saul regarded seventy million boxes mostly sold door to door to homes across the country as a marvellous opportunity to communicate the fun, self-reliance and self-realization of scouting to parents and girls alike. The cookie boxes were a resounding success - so much so that the Girl Scouts subsequently hired Saul to update the organization's symbol.

    The experience touched Saul deeply. He admired the determination of its leaders to make explicit that scouting for girls was not a pale version of scouting for boys, was open to girls of diverse cultures and colors, and sought to help shape the "new women" of the future. The stylized profiles of the new symbol were an emphatic statement about diversity and difference on one hand, and unity on the other. The impact of the Women's Liberation Movement is evident in this and other images that presented girls as active, learning and united in sisterhood.

    Frances Hesselbein, then executive director of the organization, recalls, "Saul became a historian and sociologist, as well as a communicator, as he plunged into research. He went back to 1912 to understand the origins of the movement."

    "He interviewed us and talked with the leadership, both volunteer and staff, until he had absorbed the culture of the organization, He understood the importance of the trefoil and eagle pin - handed down from mother to daughter, sometimes over generations. He understood its spiritual and emotional basis, the very powerful ties we had with the past. We wanted to carry the best of our traditions into the future and Saul understood that perfectly too. When he redesigned the pin he preserved the trefoil, but now there were profiles of the three girls who were clearly of different races. When you looked at that pin it said, 'this is a contemporary program, a diverse program, these girls are facing the future.'

    "I suggested he present the new identity to our triennial conference in Denver. He gave his rationale for the change and described the redesign process with the most wonderful graphics and slides. Halfway through his presentation he was a member of the family. It was one of the loveliest moments for me because this was not a stranger making a business presentation, this was a warm and trusted friend."

    Although many of the 10,000 adult delegates had strong emotional attachments to the existing symbol, Saul's commitment and sincerity won them over. Saul recalled, "It was electrifying for me personally. They began applauding everything I showed them, even the options that I would identify a moment later as ones we'd rejected. After the standing ovation, I was thronged; if they could have put me on their shoulders they would have. As I went through the crowd, one young woman came up to me and asked, 'Do I have to give up this pin? It came down to me from my mother and grandmother.' I looked at her, and said, 'No, absolutely not, we will be offering the new pin to those who are comfortable with it. But those who'd rather retain the old pin will absolutely have the right to do so.'"

    When the results were tracked after a year or so, however, the new pins had been accepted into everyday use, and over time the logo has endured as a beloved and effective image for generations of Americans



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