Insights / branding

The Two Problems with American Airlines New Logo

In the brand business, we’re all about changing behavior. We try to get people to change their behavior through all sorts of methods. We do this by telling our clients’ stories through strategic public relations programs that provide information to the intended audience through media outlets.

You know, it offers credibility required to raise awareness and eventually create behavior change. Sometimes we develop amazing television spots that portray the brand exactly the way it needs to. Other times we drive people to beautifully-designed websites, engage them in social media conversations, get them to scan funny little codes on their mobile devices, or hope they find us in a search on the internet. We do this by pouring over hundreds of keywords in the never-ending game of search engine optimization or SEO as us insiders say.

We often times are charged with naming a company, a program or a campaign. This can be a lot of fun. and there’s much creative work that goes into this. We try to get it right by developing copy that conveys a message with the power of a few words, and other times, there’s design work to portray the right image. We even get crazy and throw events to invite our audiences to further instill or reinforce behavior change. You know, the kind of change that rings the cash register, increases revenue, demonstrates a return-on-investment, builds affinity and brand loyalty. Change.

Now that we’ve established that, let’s circle back to design, because at heart, most of us love things with great design. It’s one of the reasons why the world fell in love with Apple products over and over again. For now, I want to stick with the new American Airlines logo.

img aa newamerican1What do you think?

I often question what drives a company to change its design after so many years of building brand awareness and recognition. We see a logo and it’s ingrained in our heads forever like a hieroglyphic on the walls of ancient Egypt. It should be there to stay, forever. That’s my opinion, and you can disagree if you’d like to.

amairlines 2The original American Airlines logo was designed by Massimo Vignelli back in the 1960’s, and this wasn’t his first rodeo either. His roster of logo design work features plenty of iconic brands we all know, including IBM and Bloomingdales to name a few. He likes to keep things simple and to the point.

So what’s the beef? The two problems with the new American Airline’s logo are:

First, the new logo isn’t very American. In fact, it looks more French to me. Zoom in, take a closer look. See that? The colors shouldn’t fall from blue to white and to red, but rather, it should be red, white and blue. What’s more American than that? I will say this: Futurebrand did a nice job of still including the American Airlines eagle and not abandoning it, although it’s a little abstract, and you need to really open your mind to see this. It also did a cool job of making the logo look like the letter A. Again, look carefully, or at least that’s how I see it.

Secondly, and we should all know this: a new logo won’t fix your problems, especially the airline industry’s. Long gone are the halcyon days when flying was a luxury, and it had a certain glamor and prestige to it. It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there and the airline business offers very little in the customer experience category, unless you’re one of the super-rich who can afford private planes and a true first-class experience.

For the majority of us, flying sucks for a laundry-list of reasons, and unless drastic changes are made to improve customer experience on a grand scale, I’m afraid a shiny new logo and pretty-painted airplanes won’t do the trick.