British Airways was formed on 31 March 1974 through the merger of BOAC and British European Airways. However, BOAC and BEA had already started phasing in the new identity by then. The logo, identity and livery were created by Negus & Negus and presented in 1973. Also part of the identity was a part of the Union jack that could be found a the tailfin of the planes. As a result of pressure from BOAC employees, the speedbird that was part of BOAC's identity was retained and put at the front of the planes.
On 4 December 1984, British Airways revealed a new identity and livery created by Landor Associates. The choice of an American company sparked some controversy within the British design community, as it was unusual at the time for British companies to contract foreign agencies for design work. Perhaps in an effort to stem this criticism, the airline's press release made sure to mention that other aspects of the rebrand would be handled by British companies, naming suppliers of paints, signs and stationery before mentioning Landor.
The new livery featured three colours, which were pearl grey, midnight blue and brilliant red. Many aspects of the Negus livery were kept. Although the shades were different, the lower part of the fuselage remained blue and the upper part had a slight colour change from white to "pearl grey". The part of the Union Jack that was on the lower part of the tailfin was also retained, while the upper part of the tailfin was changed to blue and emblazoned with British Airways' coat of arms. The font of the name was also changed. The most distinctive change was the addition of the red "Speedwing", which runs along the entire fuselage. The Speedwing could also be seen in the airline's new logo.
British Airways unveiled a new identity on 10 June 1997, as part of an attempt to rid themselves of an "overly stuffy" British image and become a truly worldwide airline. The new identity was developed by British firm Newell & Sorrell.
A new ribbon symbol was developed, which would sit prominently at the front of the fuselage. It was called the "Speedmarque", hinting it link back to the old BOAC speedbird symbol. The typeface for the name became slightly "softer", but still retained similarities with its predecessor. The amount of blue on the fuselage was reduced in favour of more white. The shades of white and blue became brighter.
The most significant part of the multicultural identity was that the airline allowed artists from all over the world to repaint the entire tail with motifs from the airline's different destinations. When the "World Images" liveries were launched there were fifteen different tails designs. The original plans were to have up 50 different designs. The tails proved controversial, and in a few years, the airline switched to a single design; the "Royal Chatham Dockyard" livery, featuring a representation of the Union Jack on the tail. This design had initially been used only on BA's fleet of Concordes, but eventually came to become the airline's standard design.