I would say that the tail of the plane in the second picture looks FAR
better than the one at the top.
Greg, I would waste some time and breath explaining why the visual representation of the airline DOES matter, but I don't think you'd listen or care.
So I'll say to everyone else instead:
The livery of the plane is the very first thing that you see at the airport, and on the news whenever they talk about an airline. As such, the livery IS
the logo of the plane in essence. The actual logo almost always incorporated into the livery (United was the exception until the new colours were introduced.)
So the appearance of the aircraft does indeed matter because like any other logo, it is what introduces the public to your company. It is what sticks in people's minds. So the more attractive the livery, the more eyecatching or memorable it is, the more attention your company is bound to get as a result. It's just common sense.
Some here argue "Who the hell cares what the plane looks like, what matters is on the inside of the plane, the service."
To a point, you're right. But you're also wrong. Service matters, most definitely. But more often than not, you experience the airline's service AFTER having already purchased a ticket on them. They've got your business. Which means that the service on board should be good enough to keep you returning, and also have you spread the word to others about the airline. In a positive sense, the airline would hope.
But until you fly that airline, first impressions are what attract first-time customers. I'll go out on a limb here and admit that United's gloomy colour scheme has never gotten me excited about the idea of flying them. And thus far, I havent.
Even though I hear about United all the time here and am familiar with them, I still find myself MUCH more excited about the though of flying them, with this new colour scheme being introduced.
I can say I'd be much more impressed showing up to the gate to see a plane in the new scheme waiting versus one in the old scheme. It's image. Old United was gloomy right from the moment you see the plane. How much nicer to have a cheerful scheme...one to put a smile on your face as you board, rather than hoping that what's inside the plane is more impressive than what's outside.
It DOES matter.