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Sweeping Airline "Brand" Overhauls

Mon Dec 19, 2016 4:38 pm

As someone who has spent their entire career (30 years in branding and still loving it), I can say there really are not that many examples of massive overhauls to massive brands, that required massive investments that indeed had the massive desired impact: (quickly, off the top of my head I can think of BP, FedEx and Continental's "worst to first"). There are obviously a number of others, but most giant brand turn arounds make more measured investments, in steps and often take a lot of time to go from "worst to first" or "from this to that" - because such companies are very large ships to turn around quickly. (I am not considering Virgin, Whole Foods or Apple, as they were new brands who were disruptive almost at birth)

I have been reading, and adding my 2 cents and questions, to the many threads about UNITED's upcoming 77W's and it's Polaris initiative...and it "to me" their massive financial investment in so many new aircraft, tens of thousands Polaris seats and upcoming re-fits, it's domestic First, and even in UA's soft product is astounding. Not to forget 2 brand new lounge types, many new routes, attention to details, and even media spend, (to me) seems near unprecedented in the airline industry, and I am trying to think of other airlines who did the same and did it successfully. Example: when I think of Delta's massive improvement, it "seems" to me like it was a longer more stepped and staged process to make it to the top of the US3. (I'm happy to be told I'm wrong) Or, do you think United is changing only in steps and not so much of the "massive overhaul" I imply? Will UA'S investments pay off? (I guess that is a whole new thread)

My basic question and desire for enlightenment is; what other MAJOR airline brand overhauls have gone far, broad and deep to advance or change their brand? Has any airline you can think of invested the same kind of investment and energy in more of a "giant step" vs the continuous, step-change brand management seen more often, example: Singapore, Qantas, Cathay. (When I think of Emirates, I recall them having a great brand from day one - again feel free to disagree)

Despite UA is #3 of the big US3 in terms of size (in most measures anyway) I realize there are very few other airlines that come close to UA's scale. For example, a major overhaul of MH wouldn't quite be apples to apples with UA, however if MH did make it to become a top tier of Asian carrier one day, I would consider it a "relevant" case in point. Perhaps I am too close to UA, so is AA matching the UA investment and I am just not picking up on it? How about British? Lufty? Latam? Qatar? EVA?

("brand" is different than "branding"...so bold new liveries alone do not count, but meaningful big change in product, service and actions do)

Thoughts and opinions? And in advance, THANK YOU and HAPPY NEW YEAR!
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Prost
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Re: Sweeping Airline "Brand" Overhauls

Mon Dec 19, 2016 4:58 pm

Frontier Airlines has massively changed their reason for being, whether it's good or bad is debatable, but they serve their niche quite well. I might add Spirit has also changed course over the dozen years or so. I don't think there's a lot of room at the top end of the service pyramid, so changing everything for that elusive Valhalla may not be the wisest use of resources for many carriers.
 
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BobPatterson
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Re: Sweeping Airline "Brand" Overhauls

Mon Dec 19, 2016 6:55 pm

A massive re-branding effort that failed to be completed (was actually done away with) involved the World Art tails at British Airways. Budgeted at about £60 million (1990ish values) it was originally planned to have about 50 different tail designs with matching luggage tags, menus, ticket counter decor, advertising and much more. The effort was stopped after about 34 tail designs had been applied to hundreds of aircraft. The entire plan was in trouble, in part due to gross mismanagement, but the death knell was enhanced when then-Baroness Margaret Thatcher decried "these awful things" and proclaimed "We fly the British flag" (which the current tail design is not, but is properly the Chatham Historic Dockyard or Union Flag).
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Re: Sweeping Airline "Brand" Overhauls

Mon Dec 19, 2016 7:03 pm

Wouldn't the rebranding at AA be larger than UA's? They changed the logo completely, and not only did they have to paint all of the AA planes (minus the MD80s), but repaint the US aircraft as well. Then there's all the gates/ticket counters at both AA & US hubs/spokes.
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KLDC10
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Re: Sweeping Airline "Brand" Overhauls

Mon Dec 19, 2016 7:08 pm

Byrdluvs747 wrote:
Wouldn't the rebranding at AA be larger than UA's? They changed the logo completely, and not only did they have to paint all of the AA planes (minus the MD80s), but repaint the US aircraft as well. Then there's all the gates/ticket counters at both AA & US hubs/spokes.


I'd second this comment. They took a 50-Year old brand and totally replaced it - I wouldn't call their efforts an evolution so much as a revolution. They also introduced an enviable hard product in all cabins onboard the 77W and 787, with recent investments in creating a true premium economy, rather than 'Main Cabin Extra'.

On the domestic side, all new Boeing and Airbus narrowbodies are delivered with personal entertainment screens from nose to tail, which is a huge improvement over their previous offering. The re-introduction of free snacks in the domestic 'Main Cabin' shouldn't be overlooked either.
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intotheair
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Re: Sweeping Airline "Brand" Overhauls

Mon Dec 19, 2016 8:07 pm

KLDC10 wrote:
Byrdluvs747 wrote:
Wouldn't the rebranding at AA be larger than UA's? They changed the logo completely, and not only did they have to paint all of the AA planes (minus the MD80s), but repaint the US aircraft as well. Then there's all the gates/ticket counters at both AA & US hubs/spokes.


I'd second this comment. They took a 50-Year old brand and totally replaced it - I wouldn't call their efforts an evolution so much as a revolution. They also introduced an enviable hard product in all cabins onboard the 77W and 787, with recent investments in creating a true premium economy, rather than 'Main Cabin Extra'.

On the domestic side, all new Boeing and Airbus narrowbodies are delivered with personal entertainment screens from nose to tail, which is a huge improvement over their previous offering. The re-introduction of free snacks in the domestic 'Main Cabin' shouldn't be overlooked either.


I agree. To me, the AA effort was massive. They bought 460 aircraft in one day and wholesale redid their entire branding!

Not that UA is doing a bad job by any means, but I think they're just playing catch-up after botching the Smisek era following the merger. UA remained stagnant and cut everything, while DL and AA grew by investing into their respective brands, products, and workforces. It's time for UA to do the same.
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Re: Sweeping Airline "Brand" Overhauls

Mon Dec 19, 2016 8:38 pm

At the time I would have said USAir to USAirways. Obviously only hind sight teaches us that the organizational changes were only paint deep, sort of like after the great recession started and Chrysler said they had completely changed and asked us to try them again, all the while just replacing a Sebring badge with a 200 badge, guaranteeing the same bad taste for the new brand as the old for consumers.
 
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Mon Dec 19, 2016 8:41 pm

AA is definitely the largest of the US carriers. Don't foget Alaska! The Beyond service and new cabins on top of the new livery/logo makes a difference.
Virgin Australia went from Virgin Blue, a LCC, to Virgin Australia, a brand trying to be LCC and luxury at the same time.
LATAM became a pan-S. American carrier with newish J, refreshed cabins on Airbus/787, etc.
Air Pacific/Fiji Airways became a boutique carrier that embraces their culture.
Hong Kong Express Airways became HK Express, going from regional carrier to ULCC and donning purple quite quickly.
I would argue that IB actually did a lot too. New J cabins/service, refreshed, modernized image, new A330/A350 orders, etc.
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Re: Sweeping Airline "Brand" Overhauls

Mon Dec 19, 2016 8:52 pm

http://youtu.be/5fnSvq1QZIc

I was recently thinking back on this Delta commercial they released as they emerged from bankruptcy nearly 10 years ago. Seeing how far they've come since then it seems like all that has happened was "planned." The ad explicitly states that they are going to do many of the things they are now lauded for (entertainment, food, drinks, uniforms, new livery, etc). They emphasized they knew they needed to change and they vowed to continue changing to meet customer's needs.

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Re: Sweeping Airline "Brand" Overhauls

Mon Dec 19, 2016 8:57 pm

A lot of people have mentioned major paint scheme changes (BA in the 90s, AA a couple years ago), but my read on the OP (and in fact he says so himself) is that a new livery, no matter how different, is not relevant (at least, not on its own) to the discussion.

The brand is how you see the airline, not what its planes look like.

Frontier mentioned above is a good example. Nowadays, when you think of Frontier, you think ULCC. Years ago, this was not really the case. Their planes haven't really changed (they still have animals on their tails), but their brand has.

I think Spirit is another example. They seem to be the ultimate ULCC in the US, taking a page out of Ryanair's book. But that wasn't how they were in the 90s, and the paint scheme doesn't really matter.

Another one that one could say is changing (or has gradually changed) its brand is Southwest. In the 90s and earlier it was the low-fare carrier that served secondary airports with 20-minute turns. Now, other than seat assignments, a coach fare on WN gives you as much or more than the legacies (e.g. checked bag, no change fees, a free snack), and they are the largest domestic airline serving every major airport in the country. Their fares are also no longer the lowest in many markets. In fact, some people now see WN as "just another legacy" airline except without an F cabin or seat assignments. That's a major change in brand perception and it wouldn't make a difference if their planes were still all brown and orange or the new blue/yellow/red variant.
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BobPatterson
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Re: Sweeping Airline "Brand" Overhauls

Mon Dec 19, 2016 9:16 pm

hOMSaR wrote:
A lot of people have mentioned major paint scheme changes (BA in the 90s, AA a couple years ago), but my read on the OP (and in fact he says so himself) is that a new livery, no matter how different, is not relevant (at least, not on its own) to the discussion.

The brand is how you see the airline, not what its planes look like.


Correct, "brand" is broad perception of the business/airline.

As I mentioned above, the British Airways rebranding effort went way, WAY beyond external aircraft livery (although that was a VERY important part). But I did not get into the cultural aspects of the matter.

It was a subtle effort aimed at the former colonies of empire (representing 40% of customers) to express empathy for cultural differences around the world through works of art. Unfortunately. the concept didn't go over well among some elements of British society who perhaps viewed the effort as surrendering national pride or "loss of face."

Pity, that.
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sevenair
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Re: Sweeping Airline "Brand" Overhauls

Mon Dec 19, 2016 10:22 pm

No other flag carrier is expected to take on the identity of others and turn its back on the market it is meant to represent. I know a.net is rife with British haters. But imagine if Qantas, South African or Air France all had their unique styles synonymous with the country that the serve just whitewashed. It's easy for the self loathers and hate-a-brits to make us out to be narrow minded nationalists but no other country would stand for it. Why should we. I do not miss the world tails.
 
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Re: Sweeping Airline "Brand" Overhauls

Mon Dec 19, 2016 11:14 pm

Ok, got it on AA, thank you! As I do not fly them, I do not "sense" it all yet. I just see the livery and the pics here of what looks like great seats. AA is quite big in the NYC metro area, and I don't really see them touting these huge investments in the brand itself, yet Delta is the talk of the town...and UA is marketing their upgrade in brand here so heavily. It seems as if UA wants to say "worst to first" in 3 years!
As for BA and "World Tails", I know the whole story well. What I cannot recall is what BA did to improve their brand through actions, not just a daring livery. So, am I to understand that the brand innovation at BA coincided with "World Tails"?

Thanks!
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Re: Sweeping Airline "Brand" Overhauls

Mon Dec 19, 2016 11:23 pm

Interesting topic. Some of the efforts that stand out most to me:

- American's 2013 rebranding. Been discussed a few times, and the new aircraft orders had already been announced when it was unveiled, but it was a top-to-bottom refresh of a 50-year-old brand and that was a pretty big deal. They rolled it out pretty quickly too, which I don't think most of us expected three years ago. You still see the old "AA Eagle" here and there on a 737, but for the most part the brand transformation is complete.

- Many have brought up BA's World Tails from 1997, but what about the 1984 "To Fly to Serve" rebranding? The aircraft color scheme was 'reversed' from red to blue but the entire brand was re-oriented toward service and a more premium attitude. It worked for quite awhile, too. In the late 70s and early 80s BA was regarded as somewhat of a national joke, but the 1984 rebranding put a lot of wind back in the sails.

- Cathay Pacific's mid-90s rebrand. This was a big pivot away from a pretty staid color scheme that had been around since the 1960s, and came just before the opening of the new HKG airport and a much different experience for passengers arriving/departing Hong Kong. I remember hearing rumblings of a change but it was kept under lock and key until the final unveil, and like AA it was rolled out pretty rapidly.

- JAL's 1988 rebranding was prompted in part by the need to repair its reputation after the JL123 disaster, but it also moved the airline away from its "historic" image and firmly into the 1990s with clean lines and a very modern message for passengers. The crane was retained in the logo and all promotional materials, but its placement and use was completely different. Subsequent rebranding in the early 2000s after the JAS merger fell flat because it eliminated too much of the historic brand, which JAL brought back around 2010.

- Turkish Airlines still has its traditional logo and the color red, but has worked really hard to position itself as a global brand over the past decade or so. Twenty years ago it was still very much a regional carrier with a handful of widebodies, whereas today it's well-known as a longhaul option with a tremendous amount of connectivity at a low price.

As others have said, Spirit and Frontier's slow evolution into ULCC territory are worth discussing, but both occurred over time and without a "big bang" rebranding. Their piecemeal approaches have still been successful - I'd venture that much (but not all!) of the flying public understands those two airlines are different from the legacies.
 
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Re: Sweeping Airline "Brand" Overhauls

Mon Dec 19, 2016 11:29 pm

Another AA comparison question (forgive my ignorance): but UA is putting Polaris seats on ALL their wide body aircraft: 77W, 772, new 787, 767's (eventually the first 787's)...did AA complete their entire wide body fleet with their Polaris all-aisle seats? And the Admirals Clubs? (again, I am not counting the livery change, although, agreed that must have been major bucks)
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Re: Sweeping Airline "Brand" Overhauls

Mon Dec 19, 2016 11:42 pm

I agree with others that AA's brand overhaul in the last five years has been pretty sweeping - both because of the scale of the airline (especially post-merger), and the level of change considering how longstanding the previous branding was (dating all the way back to 1968). AA's rebranding has touched virtually ever visual element of AA's brand - well beyond just the logo and paint scheme. Color standards, fonts, airport and cabin monuments, etc. - all changed.

VC10er wrote:
Another AA comparison question (forgive my ignorance): but UA is putting Polaris seats on ALL their wide body aircraft: 77W, 772, new 787, 767's (eventually the first 787's)...did AA complete their entire wide body fleet with their Polaris all-aisle seats?


AA has not completed the retrofit of all of its longhaul (widebody and narrowbody) aircraft with new, all-aisle-access premium seats, but it is moving in that direction fairly rapidly. At this point, the only fleets that are 100% all-aisle-access J are the new aircraft (77W and 788/789), but the 772, 767 and 757 fleets are being retrofited actively as we speak. While different specific seat designs, from different manufacturers, will be featured on different aircraft, all will have all-aisle-access. The other key distinction will be that the 757 and 767 J seats do not have AVOD PTVs physically integrated into the seat, and will instead have tablets.

VC10er wrote:
And the Admirals Clubs? (again, I am not counting the livery change, although, agreed that must have been major bucks)


AA is also in the process of actively renovating Admirals Clubs to the new standard. I must admit that AA is actually renovating Admirals Clubs at a faster pace than I thought they would be when the big lounge investment was first announced. Multiple clubs - including those in GRU, GIG, PHX and MIA are complete, and clubs in ORD, DFW, LAX, JFK and MIA are in process right now. In addition, AA's new Flagship Lounge and Flagship Dining concepts are also actively in work as part of the retrofit of the clubs at key longhaul gateways, with the first reportedly to debut at JFK in 1Q17.
 
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Re: Sweeping Airline "Brand" Overhauls

Mon Dec 19, 2016 11:55 pm

VC10er wrote:
what other MAJOR airline brand overhauls have gone far, broad and deep to advance or change their brand?

Happy holidays and happy new year VC10er!

I will mention MX. After they were acquired from the government by a group of investors led by the majority owner of Mexico's Grupo Posadas, they embarked on a major rebranding effort. The classic stylized "M" with the eagle on top amd the "Mexicana" legend in italic all caps (very eighties), were replaced by a weird blue on blue logo with a bit of white that purported to show a very modern and conceptual eagle. The font (could be proprietary in my opinion) was fresh and modern. The new livery was criticized by many and applauded by others, but it was certainly very new. In addition, new routes were launched (including A332 service with 9-abreast to MAD and LGW), fares were priced aggressively to try to take customers from AM and battle the nascent LCCs, the check-in areas were totally remodeled and given a very modern look and feel, etc. Sadly, these huge costs were probably one of the causes for MX's demise, together with the cutthroat price war in which the LCCs and MX embarked and the incompetence of the new management.
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Re: Sweeping Airline "Brand" Overhauls

Tue Dec 20, 2016 12:40 am

hOMSaR wrote:
Another one that one could say is changing (or has gradually changed) its brand is Southwest. In the 90s and earlier it was the low-fare carrier that served secondary airports with 20-minute turns. Now, other than seat assignments, a coach fare on WN gives you as much or more than the legacies (e.g. checked bag, no change fees, a free snack), and they are the largest domestic airline serving every major airport in the country. Their fares are also no longer the lowest in many markets. In fact, some people now see WN as "just another legacy" airline except without an F cabin or seat assignments. That's a major change in brand perception and it wouldn't make a difference if their planes were still all brown and orange or the new blue/yellow/red variant.


This is a good point about Southwest. Visually, until 2014, their brand was a mess. As one design blog said, their old logo (if you could call it one) would be equivalent to if Apple's logo was a cartoon drawing of an iPhone with "APPLE" written in black Helvetica underneath. Southwest's Lippincott rebrand repositioned them into a more serious, adult-oriented carrier with a smidge of its previous playfulness. It was enough of a perception change for me to finally book my first flight with them. Still though, it's not like much other than the visuals changed. I guess the only thing they really "changed" is that they held onto many of the perks that legacies initially cut (free bags, snacks, and I guess free carryons now too). And I've found that their fares are now consistently more than the legacies, though maybe they have enough brand loyalty that their customers only check fares with them and book with them, making the whole rebrand a moot point. But I digress...
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Re: Sweeping Airline "Brand" Overhauls

Tue Dec 20, 2016 12:48 am

I don't think AA's rebranding accomplished a lot. The desire to paint the fleet battleship grey probably wasn't the wisest decision.
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Re: Sweeping Airline "Brand" Overhauls

Tue Dec 20, 2016 1:25 am

BobPatterson wrote:
A massive re-branding effort that failed to be completed (was actually done away with) involved the World Art tails at British Airways. Budgeted at about £60 million (1990ish values) it was originally planned to have about 50 different tail designs with matching luggage tags, menus, ticket counter decor, advertising and much more. The effort was stopped after about 34 tail designs had been applied to hundreds of aircraft. The entire plan was in trouble, in part due to gross mismanagement, but the death knell was enhanced when then-Baroness Margaret Thatcher decried "these awful things" and proclaimed "We fly the British flag" (which the current tail design is not, but is properly the Chatham Historic Dockyard or Union Flag).


When BA was privatised there was a massive rebrand, much larger than the later World Tails. In terms of changing the perception of the brand, I think it was probably very successful. Though they started from a fairly low brand value point.
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Re: Sweeping Airline "Brand" Overhauls

Tue Dec 20, 2016 1:30 am

As briefly touched on above, the USAir to USAirways is one for the books and if you ever need a good topic for a college paper on this ... there you go. The turn around for the carrier after 5 crashes in say 5 years ... amazing.
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Re: Sweeping Airline "Brand" Overhauls

Tue Dec 20, 2016 1:48 am

VC10er wrote:
As for BA and "World Tails", I know the whole story well. What I cannot recall is what BA did to improve their brand through actions, not just a daring livery. So, am I to understand that the brand innovation at BA coincided with "World Tails"?

Thanks!


I think you might be in some way limiting what constitutes a "brand." Is there a specific list of "actions" that must be ticked off, or chosen from, to qualify as brand changing?

I think the term "image" can be substituted for "brand." It is the perception that people have of a business that sets it apart from other businesses.

Novell and Sorrell was the public relations firm hired by British Airways to "create a new corporate identity." Also known as reimaging or rebranding. Here is the press release they issued when they "launched the new corporate identity:"

http://www.prnewswire.co.uk/news-releas ... 29245.html

Within that press release you will see this bit of PR-speak:

"The British Airways logotype has been reworked using the newly created Mylius typeface and the distinctive new brand mark - the 'speedmarque' - has been developed using the evolved corporate colours of red, blue and white from the Union flag, to reflect the fact that British Airways was born and is based in Britain.

Newell and Sorrell's identity for British Airways is a genuine breakthrough in the practice of corporate branding because of the way it celebrates the diversity of the company and its customers, positioning British Airways as a world class British company - a citizen of the world."

I don't ask anyone to agree with that statement. I introduce it here merely to illustrate how others might view "brand" and "branding."

By the way, I truly loved the assorted tail designs and what British Airways, through Newell & Sorrell, were attempting to do. I only wish they had done a better job of selling the program and succeeded in it.

And as for sevenair who claims a.net is rife with British haters.....self loathers and hate-a-brits, I can only wish that you have happy holidays and hope that Santa doesn't leave coals in your stocking.
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Re: Sweeping Airline "Brand" Overhauls

Tue Dec 20, 2016 10:01 am

I am thinking that the circa 1984 BA rebranding was pretty massive.. it went from being the stale old "British" to a new, higlhy polished, privatized, highly recognizable, very business-oriented "British Airways".. The new Landor livery was very striking, and it was accompanied by big changes.. a new Business Class, new lounges, different service levels, new uniforms etc... More or less around the same time lots of new planes arrived (732s and 757s) to substitute the old faithful Tridents. That in my book was one big makeover.
 
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Re: Sweeping Airline "Brand" Overhauls

Tue Dec 20, 2016 10:24 am

Iberia's brand overhaul has been quite dramatic -- beyond the branding itself, IB is transforming its public perception from a publicly owned dinosaur with horrendous customer service and antiquated product to something modern, friendly and efficient.
 
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Re: Sweeping Airline "Brand" Overhauls

Tue Dec 20, 2016 10:44 am

VC10er wrote:
As someone who has spent their entire career (30 years in branding and still loving it),

Well done on a long career sir.

VC10er wrote:
(When I think of Emirates, I recall them having a great brand from day one - again feel free to disagree)

I somewhat agree. they may not have had a great brand from day 1 but the objective to become one was certainly there. so was the drive and guidance and the results are there for all to see......

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THANK YOU and HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Wish you the same!!
 
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Re: Sweeping Airline "Brand" Overhauls

Tue Dec 20, 2016 11:03 am

How about Ryanair. They started in 1986 as a typical regional linking Ireland with England, loosing quite a bit of money doing so. Till 1991 when MOL entered and changed Ryanair into the airline we know and love (?) today.
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Re: Sweeping Airline "Brand" Overhauls

Tue Dec 20, 2016 1:07 pm

Braniff 'End of the Plain Plane' 1965, with introduction of the pastel colors.
 
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Re: Sweeping Airline "Brand" Overhauls

Tue Dec 20, 2016 1:45 pm

I think SU image change in early 2000s is a great example of deep rebranding.
They managed to transform a Soviet-era aniline with outdated product and terrible customer image into a modern business.
This effort was very thorough and consistent (color scheme, fleet upgrade, service) and appears to be quite succesful
 
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Re: Sweeping Airline "Brand" Overhauls

Tue Dec 20, 2016 2:51 pm

Here are some of my thoughts regarding branding/logo design:

AA: Part of what encourages loyalty is familiarity. What AA did wrong is that they eliminated, or completely redesigned their eagle logo. The classic AA logo, recognized around the world, was eliminated for a modern design that some people don't get. I think part of the reason why people hate the new redesign is because it has no linkage to the classic logo.

UA: UA's brand on the other hand is a classic, all-around disaster. They took the lazy route and just rebranded legacy United as Continental. They had the perfect chance to introduce a completely new design using a modernized tulip logo. And, the entire "Polaris" branding is another bizarre, weird branding scheme.

F9: Frontier has done a great job with their branding (however, they need to stick with one branded look for more than two weeks.) Throughout all of their recent branding attempts, they've kept the familiar animal branding while updating other parts of their brand. I think their latest branding will stick for a while.

NK: Spirit: While their yellow planes are a shock to the eye against the backdrop of all the billboarded airliners flying today, they need to do a quicker job with their branding efforts. They still have three color schemes flying the skies today.

DL: Delta does the best job at branding. They've done an excellent job with keeping their classic "Delta" logo, but modernizing it and incorporating into all parts of their business (take note AA and UA). They're the 'Target' of the airline business. When you've step into a Delta plane or terminal, you know you're on Delta property.

AS: Alaska has the coolest brand design going, especially with their new paint scheme (great job at combining modern with classic). Everything with the brand works and has been nicely done. Unfortunately, I'm worried the brand may be too regionalized and we'll have Virgin America as the long term brand. We'll see.

WN: They just do whatever they want, and that's ok.
 
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Re: Sweeping Airline "Brand" Overhauls

Tue Dec 20, 2016 2:55 pm

seatback wrote:
AA: Part of what encourages loyalty is familiarity. What AA did wrong is that they eliminated, or completely redesigned their eagle logo. The classic AA logo, recognized around the world, was eliminated for a modern design that some people don't get. I think part of the reason why people hate the new redesign is because it has no linkage to the classic logo.


I completely disagree. This is all highly subjective, but I think AA's branding switch was executed excellently. I will certainly not argue that the 'classic' AA logo was instantly recognizable and globally known, but I think that while the new logo is a break with the past, I don't think AA did anything "wrong" with the change. I like AA's new branding pretty much in its entirety - and I would actually say that the new logo in particular is probably my favorite aspect.
 
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Re: Sweeping Airline "Brand" Overhauls

Tue Dec 20, 2016 3:25 pm

commavia wrote:
seatback wrote:
AA: Part of what encourages loyalty is familiarity. What AA did wrong is that they eliminated, or completely redesigned their eagle logo. The classic AA logo, recognized around the world, was eliminated for a modern design that some people don't get. I think part of the reason why people hate the new redesign is because it has no linkage to the classic logo.


I completely disagree. This is all highly subjective, but I think AA's branding switch was executed excellently. I will certainly not argue that the 'classic' AA logo was instantly recognizable and globally known, but I think that while the new logo is a break with the past, I don't think AA did anything "wrong" with the change. I like AA's new branding pretty much in its entirety - and I would actually say that the new logo in particular is probably my favorite aspect.


I never said it wasn't executed well. AA did a good job with the brand rollout.

And, yes, of course, its all subjective to a point, but my argument is that the newly branded design (whether liked or not) doesn't connect well back to the classic brand like Delta's does. From a marketing, business perspective there is a ton of value to connect to a well established, globally recognizable brand...people trust what they've seen for years (hence the reason for 3 reincarnations of Pan Am etc...)

For me, personally, I miss the AA logo (but agree that a newly, modernized AA logo was in order, I could also say the same for UA's tulip).
 
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Re: Sweeping Airline "Brand" Overhauls

Tue Dec 20, 2016 3:34 pm

BobPatterson wrote:
A massive re-branding effort that failed to be completed (was actually done away with) involved the World Art tails at British Airways. Budgeted at about £60 million (1990ish values) it was originally planned to have about 50 different tail designs with matching luggage tags, menus, ticket counter decor, advertising and much more. The effort was stopped after about 34 tail designs had been applied to hundreds of aircraft. The entire plan was in trouble, in part due to gross mismanagement, but the death knell was enhanced when then-Baroness Margaret Thatcher decried "these awful things" and proclaimed "We fly the British flag" (which the current tail design is not, but is properly the Chatham Historic Dockyard or Union Flag).

BA's Project Utopia or World Tales was a conceptual error not a failure of management per se. btw the 1997 BA branding is still with us, they just settled on a single tail logo.
 
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Re: Sweeping Airline "Brand" Overhauls

Tue Dec 20, 2016 3:38 pm

seatback wrote:
I never said it wasn't executed well. AA did a good job with the brand rollout.

And, yes, of course, its all subjective to a point, but my argument is that the newly branded design (whether liked or not) doesn't connect well back to the classic brand like Delta's does. From a marketing, business perspective there is a ton of value to connect to a well established, globally recognizable brand...people trust what they've seen for years (hence the reason for 3 reincarnations of Pan Am etc...)

For me, personally, I miss the AA logo (but agree that a newly, modernized AA logo was in order, I could also say the same for UA's tulip).


And what I'm saying is that all of your comments were in service - or at least seemed to be in service - to the broader point that AA did something "wrong" with respect to its rebranding, which is a premise I just fundamentally don't agree with. But, alas, it is indeed all subjective. I take your point about consumers' familiarity with longstanding, globally recognizable brands, but I just don't really think it's an issue in this case - for airlines as large as AA, the brand is still so widespread and sweeping, and its presence so strong in so many places, that more substantial branding changes like this are sustainable as long as they're still anchored to some design element hallmarks, which AA's new branding still is (it still has at least variants of the red, white and blue, and silver/gray, a stylized eagle, etc.).
 
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Tue Dec 20, 2016 6:25 pm

ValuJet was one of the largest turnarounds too. It went from crappy and unsafe to AirTran, a fighter against Delta.
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Re: Sweeping Airline "Brand" Overhauls

Tue Dec 20, 2016 6:48 pm

EddieDude wrote:
VC10er wrote:
what other MAJOR airline brand overhauls have gone far, broad and deep to advance or change their brand?

Happy holidays and happy new year VC10er!

I will mention MX. After they were acquired from the government by a group of investors led by the majority owner of Mexico's Grupo Posadas, they embarked on a major rebranding effort. The classic stylized "M" with the eagle on top amd the "Mexicana" legend in italic all caps (very eighties), were replaced by a weird blue on blue logo with a bit of white that purported to show a very modern and conceptual eagle. The font (could be proprietary in my opinion) was fresh and modern. The new livery was criticized by many and applauded by others, but it was certainly very new. In addition, new routes were launched (including A332 service with 9-abreast to MAD and LGW), fares were priced aggressively to try to take customers from AM and battle the nascent LCCs, the check-in areas were totally remodeled and given a very modern look and feel, etc. Sadly, these huge costs were probably one of the causes for MX's demise, together with the cutthroat price war in which the LCCs and MX embarked and the incompetence of the new management.


Mexicana, in the early 1990s (and perhaps just a bit earlier), used a series of about a dozen native Mexican designs on the tails of their aircraft. Each pattern was produced in up to four different combinations of colors. Also, each aircraft was named for a town/city/region of Mexico. Augusto Gomez Rojas has done a fine job of recording these tail in photos posted at airliners.net. The Mexicana effort avoided the mistakes made at British Airways in their Utopia or World Art tails program by selecting artwork that could easily be applied to tails of different sizes and shapes. It was a wonderful example of promoting cultural art within a single country.
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Re: Sweeping Airline "Brand" Overhauls

Tue Dec 20, 2016 7:33 pm

VC10er wrote:
As someone who has spent their entire career (30 years in branding and still loving it), I can say there really are not that many examples of massive overhauls to massive brands, that required massive investments that indeed had the massive desired impact: (quickly, off the top of my head I can think of BP, FedEx and Continental's "worst to first"). There are obviously a number of others, but most giant brand turn arounds make more measured investments, in steps and often take a lot of time to go from "worst to first" or "from this to that" - because such companies are very large ships to turn around quickly. (I am not considering Virgin, Whole Foods or Apple, as they were new brands who were disruptive almost at birth)

My basic question and desire for enlightenment is; what other MAJOR airline brand overhauls have gone far, broad and deep to advance or change their brand?
.
.
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("brand" is different than "branding"...so bold new liveries alone do not count, but meaningful big change in product, service and actions do)


Those last two sentences I quoted are why I don't think AA is there...yet. Changing a brand takes more than a new paint job, podiums, and flight information screens. The visual presentation, from seats to uniforms to livery, is only one part of a brand. AA being the last of the big 3 to go through bankruptcy and the last to merge was latest to start revitalizing their brand.

The visual elements are already done. The latest advertising finally does something clever with the Flight Symbol that I've disliked from day one. I still don't like it but at least it makes me think of a bird now instead of 3D glasses. Uniforms rolled out in the last couple months and while pretty bland are still a marked improvement from the early 90s vintage uniforms many were wearing. What's missing is all about cultural change. AA still feels to me (a relative outsider, much like their customers) to be the same old stodgy company in a shiny new wrapper. UA has had an energy about it the last 18 months or so and DL has been there for quite a while now. I think AA will get there as the merger gets farther in the rear view mirror, but at least in my opinion the new brand feels kinda hollow at this point.
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Re: Sweeping Airline "Brand" Overhauls

Tue Dec 20, 2016 9:11 pm

THANK YOU ALL, but I think I need to try and better articulate my point. The "brand" constitutes how the "brand" (any kind of brand, airlines, petroleum companies or bourbon) is perceived through via actions and behavior (or process, quality and flavor) which, depending on the category, can be very different. Lord Brown, the CEO of BP wanted BP's brand to stand for being the worlds first environmentally conscious petro-chemical company, at least as much as feasible in that category (an outrageously brave brand vision) and lead the way vs it's competitors. All of BP's actions and behaviors changed from top to bottom to deliver on that promise, every employee trained on the new brand purpose and meaning. The "branding", the green sun/flower (the Helios mark) was the visual embodiment of that. (except for the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, but many brand experts believe that while their image took a hard hit, their "green" brand was strong enough to help withstand the disaster). Prior to the Gulf, the company was successful in delivering that brand perception via it's actions and created a strong affinity with consumers. So much so, that they had data on how much further someone would drive to fill-up at BP vs another choice, and it was very impressive. Had they launched the "branding" (their version of a livery) but not had earned the right to look "green friendly", they would have been lying to the consumer.

Therefore, a livery is just "branding", but not "brand". Had UNITED launched a beautiful new livery but not changed their actions and behaviors first, it would have been tantamount to a lie. Once UA is seen, because of what they DO, as a great airline, then they should unveil a great new identity. I love what I do because I play a creative role in painting a face on a brand and visually tell it's story, and what that brand stands for. Doing that well, and watching consumers respond is very fulfilling...the kind of brief I hate is the one when a client wants beautiful branding, but they haven't held up their end of the bargain and are delivering a great brand experience...even if it's bourbon or vitamins or airlines.

My question is not about investing in a new livery, my question is what airlines have changed consumer and trade perception from being one thing, to another. I would argue that CO did that when they could credibly say they went from "worst to first". They jury is still out on UA. Once enough fliers have experienced true change in the UNITED experience, and it's meets their internal brand strategy goals of being (a guess) a solid, 4 star stylish airline, with great service, great hard product and most enviable route system, only then will folks come back in the way they desire. A new UA livery might bring them back once, but if it's not the "promise" made in those Polaris videos and ads...I think it would be suicide.

So, did the AA brand fundamentally change? With all the huge investments that they have apparently been making, is the world saying "American is one of the best flying experiences I have ever had"? Are they growing and getting an ROI because they fundamentally changed their very ordinary reputation for the better...through the actions and behaviors they have already implemented? I don't know...I hope so, I like the idea of Delta, American and ultimately United being considered great airlines with strong brands.

And aside from AA, and clearly Delta, what airlines have made impressive changes to their brand through investing and acting in a way that made their great brand strategy a reality?
(ironic, an AA TV ad on right now as I'm typing, but it's not telling me anything new about them?)

Love you all... VC10er!
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Re: Sweeping Airline "Brand" Overhauls

Tue Dec 20, 2016 10:06 pm

APOLOGIES: I talk too much! After I posted I thought of a better example. When Fed Smith of Federal Express came to Landor, he had already build a GLOBAL overnight (or close) parcel company. Twenty plus years ago, Federal Express was really seen as a domestic overnight (no ground) service because UPS really owned that huge GLOBAL position (almost Gov agency). First Federal Express management made sure they could deliver on their brand promise (no pun intended) and then, once the global logistics machine was built it was time to to look that way. His simple brief to Landor was "Make Federal Express look as bold, powerful and reliable as it is and visually upstage UPS." His exact quote "I want to stand on top of the World Trade Center and see my brand"...then some folks who I respect immensely at Landor SF went to work and created the FedEx you see today. I recall the painted DC-10 models being designed (very cool, there were some awesome designs). Well, it's branding has lasted unchanged for over 2 decades and a single logo and a tagline "The World On Time" developed by Landor has virtually turned FedEx into one of the world's most powerful brands. The "branding" telegraphed the "brand", made the promise and FedEx grew into the company you know today.

When it comes to UA, if they get there with Polaris, and much more, I think the new livery (the one I bet they are looking at right now) will launch. And I bet there are hints of what that will look like in some of what we see today. I highly doubt they will change the GLOBE for a bird! (or bring back the tulip). But, I'd also bet Wall St would really frown over the idea of that expense right now.

At a certain point brands do become undifferentiated, the huge brands often will deliver equally, match each other right down to the soup. Also, airline brands are often defined by their economy offer as far more people fly in the main cabin than Biz or First, so then "branding" must work very, very hard. (if someone disagrees with that, please do) - I only base that opinion on reading here that airlines such as EK are (surprisingly) called out as being quite ordinary and really not so different than the back of AA, UA or DL. (that's what I read hear :-) - as well as all my friends who often do not fly Premium international, however business associates will wax on about everything down to hot v cold nuts.

The post above about Lippencott's change to SOUTHWEST is really interesting. I would love to know more. That sounds to me like a brand really did go from being one thing, to becoming something else due to changes in behavior and experience.
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Re: Sweeping Airline "Brand" Overhauls

Tue Dec 20, 2016 10:38 pm

VC10er wrote:
And aside from AA, and clearly Delta, what airlines have made impressive changes to their brand through investing and acting in a way that made their great brand strategy a reality?


Two potential examples from Asia spring to mind: Korean Air and China Airlines. Neither airline's visual identity has undergone significant changes since its introduction in 1984 and 1995, respectively. However, I have the distinct impression that both have transitioned to being perceived as decidedly more upmarket or "world-class" brands (KE perhaps more so than CI). Both, in a sense, also had to work hard to shed their image as carriers with questionable safety records.
 
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Re: Sweeping Airline "Brand" Overhauls

Tue Dec 20, 2016 11:50 pm

VC10er wrote:

When it comes to UA, if they get there with Polaris, and much more, I think the new livery (the one I bet they are looking at right now) will launch. And I bet there are hints of what that will look like in some of what we see today.

What do you know? What have you seen? Eta on it??? Tell us man!!! Lol. But seriously, I can see a new logo with some kind of stylized globe similar to what they have now and integrating some Polaris-esque stars.

And to the poster who said they weren't sure what UAs meaning behind Polaris is, they are making it an experience than just product. AFAIK, AA or DL don't have all encompassing experiences for their premium products. UA is taking a cue from LH in terms of this concept.
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Re: Sweeping Airline "Brand" Overhauls

Wed Dec 21, 2016 12:13 am

Some past re-brandings I thought were well done:

1. TWA from the red stripes 70's branding to the 90's rebirth of the twin globes which I thought was brilliant. However, I thought the stripes going up the tail on the MD-80s and 717's looked awkward, it certainly looked better on the non-T-tails. But they also rolled out Trans World One and Trans World Q and were really making a difference in their operations. Not enough time unfortunately.

2. Ozark from the late 60's sorta swoop on the tail with the swallows following the tail edge to the four stripe and square logo on the tail. Much needed improvement.

3. Air California to AirCal and their graduating cheatline leading to the tail. Classy.

4. Northwest from the old Northwest Orient scheme to the bowling shoe livery with the "NW" compass on the tail. Classic.

5. National from the mid-60's stylized "N" scheme to the Sun King livery. They really did turn an airline into Florida. Oh, and the "Fly Me" campaign was genius, if a bit sexist for a while.

6. Trans Texas to Texas International, I didn't care for the interim scheme but once they put the star on the tail...a winner.

A few I didn't care for:

1. Air Florida when they went from orange to blue. Orange screamed Florida, the blue and green...meh.

2. Western from the red and white swizzle stick to that awful Bud Light/shadow livery. Yuck.

3. SAS when they lost the viking longboat look.
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Re: Sweeping Airline "Brand" Overhauls

Wed Dec 21, 2016 12:34 am

VC10er wrote:
THANK YOU ALL, but I think I need to try and better articulate my point. The "brand" constitutes how the "brand" (any kind of brand, airlines, petroleum companies or bourbon) is perceived through via actions and behavior (or process, quality and flavor) which, depending on the category, can be very different. Lord Brown, the CEO of BP wanted BP's brand to stand for being the worlds first environmentally conscious petro-chemical company, at least as much as feasible in that category (an outrageously brave brand vision) and lead the way vs it's competitors. All of BP's actions and behaviors changed from top to bottom to deliver on that promise, every employee trained on the new brand purpose and meaning. The "branding", the green sun/flower (the Helios mark) was the visual embodiment of that. (except for the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, but many brand experts believe that while their image took a hard hit, their "green" brand was strong enough to help withstand the disaster). Prior to the Gulf, the company was successful in delivering that brand perception via it's actions and created a strong affinity with consumers. So much so, that they had data on how much further someone would drive to fill-up at BP vs another choice, and it was very impressive. Had they launched the "branding" (their version of a livery) but not had earned the right to look "green friendly", they would have been lying to the consumer.

....


VC10er
Can you explain a bit more what you consider "branding" and "the brand"?

I received a series of customer feedback requests from CX over the last few weeks relating to branding. I replied none of them because I don't understand what they want to do and what feedback they want from me. The latest one asked me which brands I like and why. It was a completely open ended question. My answer as an ordinary customer is "no idea", but if you look at my spending pattern there are probably a few preferred brands and they appeal to me for some reason but I don't know why specifically.

So the question they asked me is effectively "what do you want us to be" to which my answer is "don't know, maybe better and cheaper than anyone else?".

So is branding more important to the customer to tell you what a company stands for, or is it more important to the company itself to show everyone within the company what is expected from them?

And where is the line between branding and old fashioned sales and marketing?
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Re: Sweeping Airline "Brand" Overhauls

Wed Dec 21, 2016 12:52 am

Branding to me is the packaging, Brand is the values of a company. Let's take KLM for example, the branding is the Delft Blue, the crown on most of their fleet, etc. The brand is not the cheapest carrier in Europe, not the most expensive, but a good value proposition offering reliable, safe transportation, decent quality service for a reasonable price. KLM seems to reflect the Netherlands sensibility, wise business people, slightly aloof, yet warm at their core with a quiet sense of humor.

I hope I haven't offended my Ditch friends, because I have nothing but admiration. The best quote I heard about KLM was that the airline wasn't too big for the country, the country was too small.
 
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Re: Sweeping Airline "Brand" Overhauls

Wed Dec 21, 2016 1:11 am

In terms of brand, the new Delta that emerged from the merger of DL and NW is the biggest example of a re-birth I have ever seen.

It took the passengers and staff with them in a positive way and transformed into an airline to be proud of. Everything from livery to uniform to hardware is improved, and staff act as one company.

United / Continental is still far away from this. Their Polaris concept feels to me like a quality product bolted onto a subpar product. I see United and I think Continental and so do a lot of the staff. That to me is brand failure.

Brand is more than livery, it is the external impression of a company DNA.
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Re: Sweeping Airline "Brand" Overhauls

Wed Dec 21, 2016 1:16 am

oldannyboy wrote:
I am thinking that the circa 1984 BA rebranding was pretty massive.. it went from being the stale old "British" to a new, higlhy polished, privatized, highly recognizable, very business-oriented "British Airways".. The new Landor livery was very striking, and it was accompanied by big changes.. a new Business Class, new lounges, different service levels, new uniforms etc... More or less around the same time lots of new planes arrived (732s and 757s) to substitute the old faithful Tridents. That in my book was one big makeover.


There was nothing stale about first BA livery by Negis, it was along that same lines as Air France, Iberia, KLM and Alitalia, bold 1970s liveries which carried on with confidence into the 2000s, it was hasty of BA to have gotten rid of it after just ten years of use, all it needed were a few minor tweaks.

Now Aer Lingus was stale and their current livery was a refreshing change.
 
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Re: Sweeping Airline "Brand" Overhauls

Wed Dec 21, 2016 11:34 am

CanadaFair wrote:
oldannyboy wrote:
I am thinking that the circa 1984 BA rebranding was pretty massive.. it went from being the stale old "British" to a new, higlhy polished, privatized, highly recognizable, very business-oriented "British Airways".. The new Landor livery was very striking, and it was accompanied by big changes.. a new Business Class, new lounges, different service levels, new uniforms etc... More or less around the same time lots of new planes arrived (732s and 757s) to substitute the old faithful Tridents. That in my book was one big makeover.


There was nothing stale about first BA livery by Negis, it was along that same lines as Air France, Iberia, KLM and Alitalia, bold 1970s liveries which carried on with confidence into the 2000s, it was hasty of BA to have gotten rid of it after just ten years of use, all it needed were a few minor tweaks.


Well, we are all entitled to our own opinions of course, but I tend to agree that Dick Negus was a great designer -there's no doubt about that- and Negus&Negus did a fantastic job for their time, but unlike some designs that you mention (Alitalia and Air France particularly) it did not age well. The reason being that it quintessentially was a blend of two 1960s designs (those of BEA and BOAC), and by the early '80s it appeared quite dated really.
Landor did a great job in updating the basic design, and make it sharp, elegant and much more up to-date (by 1980s standards of course.. you now could easily say that it would look too "stiff"in this day and age of "flowing" lines, but back then it was really standing out!).
 
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Re: Sweeping Airline "Brand" Overhauls

Wed Dec 21, 2016 3:46 pm

I loved the the twin globes on TW planes in the 90's. They were also running a lot of ads on TV in nonhub markets. It was all very cool. However, at the time I also felt it was kind of a joke. That was the reality, it was a joke because TW was down to one hub, STL, and had just a handful or routes to Europe, that could be practically counted on one hand. Sad but true. I didn't know why they bothered with all of it. Oh TW had routes to the Caribbean too of, course. The brand didn't match the company reality. I am sorry if I offended anyone.

When AA rebranded I agree I don't entirely get why the completely abandoned the eagle. But over time these changes stick.

I read blogs on the airline industry and travel all the time. Over the last couple years, people seem to be forgetting more and more about Continental. People are starting to forget the globe came from CO. Of course there will be people angry about UA adopting CO's livery until the end of time I think, especially in this forum. But I think it's wearing off overall.

I doubt most travelers are that excited about Polaris. Are most travelers in that market? I doubt it. What UA is doing with Polaris is cool, but it can only do so much.
 
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Re: Sweeping Airline "Brand" Overhauls

Wed Dec 21, 2016 4:58 pm

OzarkD9S wrote:
Some past re-brandings I thought were well done:

1. TWA from the red stripes 70's branding to the 90's rebirth of the twin globes which I thought was brilliant. However, I thought the stripes going up the tail on the MD-80s and 717's looked awkward, it certainly looked better on the non-T-tails. But they also rolled out Trans World One and Trans World Q and were really making a difference in their operations. Not enough time unfortunately.

2. Ozark from the late 60's sorta swoop on the tail with the swallows following the tail edge to the four stripe and square logo on the tail. Much needed improvement.

3. Air California to AirCal and their graduating cheatline leading to the tail. Classy.

4. Northwest from the old Northwest Orient scheme to the bowling shoe livery with the "NW" compass on the tail. Classic.

5. National from the mid-60's stylized "N" scheme to the Sun King livery. They really did turn an airline into Florida. Oh, and the "Fly Me" campaign was genius, if a bit sexist for a while.

6. Trans Texas to Texas International, I didn't care for the interim scheme but once they put the star on the tail...a winner.

A few I didn't care for:

1. Air Florida when they went from orange to blue. Orange screamed Florida, the blue and green...meh.

2. Western from the red and white swizzle stick to that awful Bud Light/shadow livery. Yuck.

3. SAS when they lost the viking longboat look.


And don't forget one that somebody else posted above: the Granddaddy of them all: Braniff going back to 1965 with "The end of the Plain Plain" (colorful airplanes, designer uniforms, etc.).
 
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Re: Sweeping Airline "Brand" Overhauls

Wed Dec 21, 2016 5:43 pm

superjeff wrote:
OzarkD9S wrote:
Some past re-brandings I thought were well done:

1. TWA from the red stripes 70's branding to the 90's rebirth of the twin globes which I thought was brilliant. However, I thought the stripes going up the tail on the MD-80s and 717's looked awkward, it certainly looked better on the non-T-tails. But they also rolled out Trans World One and Trans World Q and were really making a difference in their operations. Not enough time unfortunately.

2. Ozark from the late 60's sorta swoop on the tail with the swallows following the tail edge to the four stripe and square logo on the tail. Much needed improvement.

3. Air California to AirCal and their graduating cheatline leading to the tail. Classy.

4. Northwest from the old Northwest Orient scheme to the bowling shoe livery with the "NW" compass on the tail. Classic.

5. National from the mid-60's stylized "N" scheme to the Sun King livery. They really did turn an airline into Florida. Oh, and the "Fly Me" campaign was genius, if a bit sexist for a while.

6. Trans Texas to Texas International, I didn't care for the interim scheme but once they put the star on the tail...a winner.

A few I didn't care for:

1. Air Florida when they went from orange to blue. Orange screamed Florida, the blue and green...meh.

2. Western from the red and white swizzle stick to that awful Bud Light/shadow livery. Yuck.

3. SAS when they lost the viking longboat look.


And don't forget one that somebody else posted above: the Granddaddy of them all: Braniff going back to 1965 with "The end of the Plain Plain" (colorful airplanes, designer uniforms, etc.).


You guys are still missing OP's point. His question isn't about livery changes, but about wholesale transformation of the entire public perception of the airline, of which livery is just a part. Were any of these livery changes accompanied by differences in business model, focus, hard/soft product, etc? I'm thinking Braniff possibly but I never got to fly them unfortunately.
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FlyCaledonian
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Re: Sweeping Airline "Brand" Overhauls

Wed Dec 21, 2016 8:36 pm

oldannyboy wrote:
I am thinking that the circa 1984 BA rebranding was pretty massive.. it went from being the stale old "British" to a new, highly polished, privatized, highly recognizable, very business-oriented "British Airways".. The new Landor livery was very striking, and it was accompanied by big changes.. a new Business Class, new lounges, different service levels, new uniforms etc... More or less around the same time lots of new planes arrived (732s and 757s) to substitute the old faithful Tridents. That in my book was one big makeover.

This I think is an example of where the whole brand was changed. BA was said to stand for "Bloody Awful", the airline was in many senses still just BOAC and BEA bolted together under the "British" brand.

The Landor livery, the Speedwing, use of the crest - this was a visual interpretation of BA becoming classy, professional, raising its game and setting new standards. It was why upon privatisation it became very profitable. It invested in new aircraft. It is why it could very much claim to be the "World's Favourite Airline", in many ways an icon of 1980s Britain - back on the up after the perception of being the sick man of Europe in the 1970s and lacking a role in the world post-Empire.

I'd argue that the whole "World Tails" rebranding in 1997 was part of a bigger effort to turn BA into a global airline. It was still the "World's Favourite Airline" but it was also ambitious and hungry. It had franchise carriers in Scandinavia and South Africa; it had major investments in Deutsche BA (Germany) and Air Liberte (France). The Landor brand wasn't seen to stand for a global airline group that was also looking to form a virtual airline with AA across the North Atlantic; that owned 25% of QF; and that was a founder member of oneworld when the alliances were in their infancy and it was thought this was the way to create global carriers. That vision could be quickly said to unravel as the losses mounted at Deutsche BA and Air Liberte as a combination of a LH/AF fightback and the rise of LCC competition hit home and the AA JV went into the deep freeze for a decade. So BA retrenched back to the UK, even pulling away from franchise carriers aside from Sun-Air in Scandinavia and Comair in South Africa.

I'll leave others to say why the "World Tails" rebrand failed as planned, but my simple take is that BA and/or the agency misunderstood that actually the Britishness of BA is what many liked and diluting that was confusing to many.

So in short - Landor stood for a staid state company becoming a lean dynamic professional privately owned airline. World Tails was meant to stand for a global airline but it stalled before that transition was completed, then was redefined to what what we have today without achieving anywhere near the impact of the 1984 rebrand.
Let's Go British Caledonian!

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