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aviateur
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New Liveries Report Card!

Fri Oct 03, 2014 5:34 pm

I've written up a rather damning "report card" grading a bunch of the most recent airline livery makeovers.

"From Etihad to Southwest, Several Airlines Have Unveiled New Looks. Is Any Airline Safe From the Dreaded 'In-Motion' Theme?

The full post and pictures are up on my website (I won't post a link here; see my profile), if you'd like to read it, but here are the funny parts...


From the corner of my eye I see something blue. I like the color blue, but not this one. It's a soapy, anemic blue accented with gray. And the rest of the design -- all swoopy and swirly and annoying. Oh no, it's the new livery of Aerolineas Argentinas, splashed across the side of an Airbus A340. What an overwrought mess. And look what they've done to the Andean condor up there on the tail. A proud and graceful logo has become a cartoonish abstraction (those white flash lines are distracting and tacky). Aerolineas's prior livery was a little dry, but it wasn't crying out for change. Did they need to do this?

Grade: F


Not to be outdone, the Spanish airline Iberia has a new look too. The "IB" is gone from the tail after several decades, replaced by -- take a guess now -- a swishy-swoopy-curvy thing that is so godawfully boring that it nearly brings tears to the eyes. Sure, Iberia's bulky fuselage striping needed an overhaul, but you don't toss out a logo as well-known as the IB. The typeface is ugly too. The trashing of the "IB" is almost as bad as the trashing of American's famous "AA," and it shows us that nothing is sacred. No trademark, no matter how iconic, is safe from the hacks that have taken over the airline branding world, with their apparently endless catalog of "in-motion" themes.

Grade: F


Next in line, Etihad Airways. No doubt Etihad needed to do something. Its planes had a military parade look to them. The carrier's falcon emblem belonged on the crest of some Arabian colonel's hat. But is this any better? A gimmicky mish-mash of gold and coffee-colored triangles? It looks like a bunch of cardboard boxes caught up in the wind. Yet another example of designers trying to prove how clever and crafty they can be, instead of using their skills to establish some genuine brand identity.

Grade: F


Moving on. I know, I know, its paintjob is the least of Malaysia Airlines' worries right now. But while I hate to pile on, they deserve it for screwing up one of the more dignified and handsome looks out there. Malaysia was one of the last carriers hanging onto a "cheatline" -- that classic nose-to-tail striping along the windows. Straight lines are verboten these days, and so the red and blue cheat has been twisted into a pair of awkward ribbony flares. it looks like something a sixth-grader would have come up with, and it's a great example of NOT LEAVING WELL ENOUGH ALONE! Though at least they've kept the Wau, the indigenous kite design on the tail. Malaysia has a "special" livery just for its A380 aircraft -- an swirly blue fever-dream that looks like the uniform of an arena football team. Is there such a thing as an F-minus?

Grade: F


Closer to home, several U.S. carriers have reinvented themselves as well, with similarly poor results.

Southwest's heretofore livery made its 737s look like an amusement park ride, or an overly rich dessert concocted by a starving child. A month or so ago the carrier announced a redesign, and sadly it's no different. It's garish, syrupy, and so bright that it's painful to look at. I confess to being quite fond of Southwest's heart emblem, however. They should feature it more prominently. There's no excuse for it not being on the tail, in place of that hideous tricolor swoop.

Grade: F


Spirit Airlines has had a tough time of things. If I'm counting right, they've gone through four different looks in the past ten years, all of them awful. There's not much to say about this latest one. It's only fitting that the country's most downmarket carrier wear the most downmarket livery. There's certainly no mistaking it. It's actually an improvement on the previous scheme, which turned every plane into a box of laundry detergent. The least offensive of Spirit's attempts, which isn't saying much, was probably its peculiar black-on-silver motif of a few years ago. I'd like to have been a fly on the wall for THAT board meeting. "Now, how can we get our planes to look more like ash trays?"

Grade: F


Finally we have Frontier Airlines. Today's Frontier is no relation to the original Frontier, which ceased operations in 1986, but they've gone and resurrected the stylized "F" that was part of the first carrier's Saul Bass-designed look of the 1970s. It's a good move, and I like the arrow as well (though not the chunky rectangular part in the back). The animals-on-the-tail thing, though, is getting tired. Put the "F" up there, the way Saul had it.

Grade: C



Not an impressive report card, is it? But the uglification of airline branding shows no signs of relenting.

On a certain airliner message board, one person actually describes the new Etihad look as "elegant." No, I'm sorry. The JAL crane is "elegant." Those triangles are showy and nonsensical. Simplicity, people. As has been noted in this space before, a truly iconic logo or livery is one that a child can replicate by hand, from memory, with a pencil. It relies not on color or texture, but on shape, and it is always something simple. Think Lufthansa; the old Pan Am globe; the forsaken "AA" emblem, etc.


Get those nasty comments going!


-- Patrick Smith

[Edited 2014-10-03 11:04:36]
Patrick Smith is an airline pilot, air travel columnist and author
 
lpdal
Posts: 1966
Joined: Sat Mar 24, 2012 9:49 pm

RE: New Liveries Report Card!

Fri Oct 03, 2014 9:43 pm

Quote:
Get those nasty comments going!

No. More like, "Remove your rose tinted specs."

I see no point in a thread dedicated to thoughtlessly tearing down the hard work of an airline.

-LPDAL
TWU represented. All of my views and posted content are mine alone, and should not be viewed as official communication from my employer, its subsidiaries thereof, or any other entities or airlines.
 
AR385
Posts: 6936
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RE: New Liveries Report Card!

Fri Oct 03, 2014 10:07 pm

Interesting web site.

My opinion on the AR has grown. At the beginning I didn´t like it, and I agree the Condor should have never been left so abstract that one can´t notice it. I however think now that it is a nice, modern livery that skirted the Eurowhite pandemic. It looks great in my 1/400 models. B+

IB is just crappy, no other way to look at it.

Etihad certainly tried something different. But the tail...what is it? And there is no logo there. F

MH has so many problems now, that commenting on their livery feels like bullying them. But I don´t think it´s that bad. It´s probably heading for a TOTAL rebrand. C-

SW. Boy. I don´t really now what are they attempting. It hurts my eyes just looking at the baroque paint job. F

Interesting work you do with your site. Keep it up. A

[Edited 2014-10-03 15:12:54]
 
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Ytraveller
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RE: New Liveries Report Card!

Fri Oct 03, 2014 10:09 pm

I was thinking about starting a thread like this! Well here’s my report card, it greatly contrasts from yours:


Etihad:  A+

I think this is the best livery I’ve ever seen. The design overall is very classy and modern, with the tail’s abstract triangles and the metallic gold color of the fuselage. It’s much more appealing than the boring old livery.


Southwest:  A–

This one took me a while to appreciate. After seeing the leaked images on this forum, I deeply despised the new livery. But it looks way better under the right lighting conditions. Plus it’ll break the monotony for a while at LAS!


Iberia:  A–

This livery just feels “fresh.” I like the bright shade of red with a little brush of yellow at the top. Also, I never really liked the old livery, it seemed too “old.”


Spirit:  B–

Somehow I don’t think this livery is that bad. It’s definitely a lot more recognizable than the old livery. The giant, bold, scratched-up titles on the fuselage detract from that overwhelming yellow.


Frontier:  C+

It’s great that they appreciate their heritage, but the livery is just too cluttered: the stylized F, the green cheat line, and an out-of-place wild animal on the tail. From a distance, though, it looks pretty nice.


American:  D+

I’ve tried my hardest to like this livery, but I just can’t. The dull gray fuselage with darker gray titles is the worst part for me. Then there’s the tiny strip with an “eagle’s head” poking out. On the other hand, I like the abstract tail.



- Ytraveller  
 
royalswazi
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RE: New Liveries Report Card!

Fri Oct 03, 2014 11:28 pm

I personally really like the old Etihad colours, but I must admit I also like the new ones. If my eyes tell me the truth it seems as if they've kept the metallic effect which is superb. I find Iberia horribly boring, but their old colours were in dire need of a rework. Sad they didn't come up with something a bit more inspiring. As a Scandinavian I do have a pet hate livery: SAS. It makes the planes look dirty and old, and one can hardly make out Scandinavian Airlines on the side. Also, the blue is neither dark or light enough in my opinion. The red engines are just weird. Scandinavia is world famous for design that stands out and I sincerely hope SAS finds one of them who can do something radical.
 
dc9northwest
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RE: New Liveries Report Card!

Sat Oct 04, 2014 12:35 am

Have you read Maddox's Children's Drawing Grades, aka "I am better than your kids"?

That's what your report reminds me of. Funny stuff  
 
aviateur
Topic Author
Posts: 562
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RE: New Liveries Report Card!

Sat Oct 04, 2014 1:38 am

Quoting LPDAL (Reply 1):
No. More like, "Remove your rose tinted specs."

I see no point in a thread dedicated to thoughtlessly tearing down the hard work of an airline.

-LPDAL

Well that's a weird response.

And I'd hardly call my critique "thoughtless." In fact I put quite a lot of thought into it. I've been writing -- and thinking! -- about this stuff for years. I've spent my whole life in and around the airline business, so, no offense, but I think I'm qualified to chime in!

-- PS
Patrick Smith is an airline pilot, air travel columnist and author
 
Braniff747SP
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RE: New Liveries Report Card!

Sat Oct 04, 2014 2:07 am

Quoting LPDAL (Reply 1):
thoughtlessly tearing down the hard work of an airline.

Because they've hired some outside consultancy that 'worked hard', they're free from criticism for the garbage they put out?

That's one of the more ridiculous things I've read on this board.
The 747 will always be the TRUE queen of the skies!
 
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hufftheweevil
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RE: New Liveries Report Card!

Sat Oct 04, 2014 5:17 am

Quoting ytraveller (Reply 3):
Well here’s my report card, it greatly contrasts from yours:

So does mine. Here's mine (without commentary, because I don't feel like getting into each one right now):

Etihad: B+

Spirit: B

American: B–

Southwest: C+

Malaysia: C

Frontier: D

Iberia: F
Huff
 
egph
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RE: New Liveries Report Card!

Sat Oct 04, 2014 7:31 am

After seeing all the pics I have to say out of that bunch the only livery that got worse was Iberia, perhaps joined by Malaysian without the A380 (that's a nice livery). All other airlines shown were improvements, especially Argentina and Etihad.
 
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AirPacific747
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RE: New Liveries Report Card!

Sat Oct 04, 2014 4:19 pm

Quoting royalswazi (Reply 4):
As a Scandinavian I do have a pet hate livery: SAS. It makes the planes look dirty and old, and one can hardly make out Scandinavian Airlines on the side. Also, the blue is neither dark or light enough in my opinion. The red engines are just weird. Scandinavia is world famous for design that stands out and I sincerely hope SAS finds one of them who can do something radical.

Completely agree. When you see a SAS tail next to an LH tail, the blue colour of LH just looks much better and the red engines on SAS are not very red, but more tomato coloured.. and when worn a bit, they look more like tired orange.

I like the silver Scandinavian on the side but I agree it's not visible enough. They need to come up with something completely different soon. The current livery is boring in my opinion.
 
jeffh747
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RE: New Liveries Report Card!

Sat Oct 04, 2014 8:15 pm

Mate you've got issues ranting on and on like that about a subject the general public doesn't even care about. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING in your list deserves and F because we see things differently. That flashy blue new AR might be more appealing to me than the white IB, but then someone else might like the simplicity of the new IB compared to the new EY.

Point is, frankly nobody cares about what you think because we all have different opinions, and ranting on like that makes you look like a fool.
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DocLightning
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RE: New Liveries Report Card!

Sat Oct 04, 2014 8:45 pm

Quoting AR385 (Reply 2):

My opinion on the AR has grown. At the beginning I didn´t like it, and I agree the Condor should have never been left so abstract that one can´t notice it. I however think now that it is a nice, modern livery that skirted the Eurowhite pandemic. It looks great in my 1/400 models. B+

I like it a lot. It gets an A+ (and I'm a hard grader). It's not all-white, for starters. It's distinctive. It's attractive. It compliments the lines of the aircraft and implies the grace of flight. And it maintains some brand continuity.

Quoting aviateur (Thread starter):
Not to be outdone, the Spanish airline Iberia has a new look too.

I grade it as a D+. It maintains the colors and the tail design is...original. But the rest of the fuselage is just white with titles. Nothing distinctive, but a bit of credit for at least a little brand continuity.

Quoting aviateur (Thread starter):
Southwest's heretofore livery made its 737s look like an amusement park ride,

C+. It wasn't necessary because there was nothing wrong with their brand. The new titles look moth-eaten because of the windows and the new fuselage is monochromatic otherwise, which is boring.

Quoting ytraveller (Reply 3):
Etihad:  A+

C. The tail is just confusing and way too busy. But it does recall the desert heritage and they kept their attractive titles.

Quoting ytraveller (Reply 3):
Spirit:  B–

Agree. Then again, maybe it's an A+ because they clearly set out to make it ugly. But in doing so, they managed to make it distinctive and easy to recognize. It certainly accurately represents their brand as an ULCC.

Quoting ytraveller (Reply 3):
Frontier:  C+

More or less. Their old one was fine, and the new one looks like ERONTIER. Confusing.

Quoting hufftheweevil (Reply 8):
Malaysia: C

I give it a B. At least it's not all white and it's somewhat original.

Quoting ytraveller (Reply 3):
American:  D+

C-. First of all, their old livery was hideously anachronistic and needed to be changed. There was NOTHING "timeless" about it. The trouble with this one is the flag is visually jarring, but also from a business point of view, AA has now tagged its corporate image to the political image of the USA. As an international airline, they need to remember that the USA is not loved everywhere and this will turn potential customers off in some locales. This isn't about "apologizing" for the USA and it's not about patriotism vs. political correctness. It's about getting butts in seats. There is other imagery that they could have used on the tail that would still be very American (and even patriotic) without being quite so "in-your-face."

The one that didn't get mentioned was China Eastern.

They get an F-. Heck, they get a Z-. I can't even think up a low enough grade. I'm sorry, but that's not a livery. That's white paint with a corporate logo and simple titles. Go back and design a livery, please.
-Doc Lightning-

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kurtjeter
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RE: New Liveries Report Card!

Sat Oct 04, 2014 11:51 pm

My two cents. I like the new Etihad: clever eye-catching, not too busy, IMHO.
I like the new WN.
As for airlines that I wish had not changed: number 1 was TWA's move from the "great globe" to the boring white on red blob.
 
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777Jet
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RE: New Liveries Report Card!

Sun Oct 05, 2014 2:41 am

Thanks for taking the time to put together your damning report card - I enjoyed reading it!

Quoting aviateur (Thread starter):
Grade: F


Next in line, Etihad Airways.

I would have agreed... especially when I saw the new livery on the whale... but... after seeing the new livery on the 787... I will move it up to a C because IMO it looks slick on the 787  
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DocLightning
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RE: New Liveries Report Card!

Sun Oct 05, 2014 6:57 pm

Quoting kurtjeter (Reply 13):
As for airlines that I wish had not changed: number 1 was TWA's move from the "great globe" to the boring white on red blob.

I thought that TW's final livery was the best they ever had. It was modern, eye-catching, distinctive, had brand continuity, and it was even attractive. It really enhanced the lines of the aircraft. It was a pity to watch it get replaced with the anachronistic AA livery. AA's livery looked good in 1982, but not in 2000 or 2012.
-Doc Lightning-

"The sky calls to us. If we do not destroy ourselves, we will one day venture to the stars."
-Carl Sagan
 
lpdal
Posts: 1966
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RE: New Liveries Report Card!

Sun Oct 05, 2014 9:52 pm

Quoting aviateur (Thread starter):
Spirit Airlines has had a tough time of things. If I'm counting right, they've gone through four different looks in the past ten years, all of them awful. There's not much to say about this latest one. It's only fitting that the country's most downmarket carrier wear the most downmarket livery. There's certainly no mistaking it. It's actually an improvement on the previous scheme, which turned every plane into a box of laundry detergent. The least offensive of Spirit's attempts, which isn't saying much, was probably its peculiar black-on-silver motif of a few years ago. I'd like to have been a fly on the wall for THAT board meeting. "Now, how can we get our planes to look more like ash trays?"

NK is printing money, and hasn't been "in a tough time of things" in several years.

Quoting ytraveller (Reply 3):
The giant, bold, scratched-up titles on the fuselage detract from that overwhelming yellow.

It's meant to look like pencil marks. If you visit the website, the whole marketing campaign is based upon construction and remolding.

For crying out loud, nothing that the airlines will do will impress anyone on this board, even if all their ridiculous requests (reviving 10-20-30 year old liveries?) are all granted. They would still find something to complain about.

-LPDAL
TWU represented. All of my views and posted content are mine alone, and should not be viewed as official communication from my employer, its subsidiaries thereof, or any other entities or airlines.

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