something pretty darn special in the air

In the world of airline logos, there have only been a few really special designs.

One was from the defunct Pan Am, which you may have seen in the short lived TV series in 2012.

The other has been a logo that has been one of the cleanest, simplest and most recognizable logos in aviation, American Airlines. The logo, with its red and blue Helvetica font and modern eagle has been around since 1968 and even today was a timeless beauty of a logo.

Less lucky has been the airline itself, which is in the midst of a return from bankruptcy while at the same time facing a merger with U.S. Airways. The airline’s future is brighter than it was, but still not clear.

Nonetheless, coming out of bankruptcy IS a big deal, adding lots of modern amenities to your planes is also a big deal. So you might as well change the logo while you’re at…and the plane design.

So they did.

In branding circles, this kind of change is a BIG freakin’ deal. Huge!

My take? Look, I loved the old logo because it never looked dated to me…but I understand after 40+ years and a few court filings, the old AA needed a fresh look. This is a good one.

What’s really cool is the video that not only introduces the logo but the new plane design as well, I really like the look of the tail.

This change could NOT have been easy but I think the final version (without having seen it in person) looks pretty sharp. Take a look.

8 Responses to “something pretty darn special in the air”

  1. Would anyone like to try a glass of ‘NEW’ Coke???

  2. You know Keith, I was going to draw an analogy to a new Coke logo when talking about changing the AA logo but I decided as much of an icon at the American Airlines logo is/was, it’s not on par with Coke. But I think they reimagined the look with something very nice. I’m not sure how I feel about the silver paint versus the the gleaming steel outer body of the old planes but over all, I like what they tried to do.

    It sounds like you don’t like it…what don’t you like about it?

    Best always,
    – Peter

  3. Peter… it seems to me, especially from the marketing ‘experts’ in the video, that they are unsure of the move… perhaps fearing the ‘NEW” Coke comparison. Overall, it’s an ‘OK’ redesign but nothing to write home about. Frankly, I’m not certain that re-branding AA is the right thing, right now.

  4. Keith,

    The timing thing caught me too! Why now do you announce you’re going to spend MILLIONS of dollars to repaint your planes, rebrand your gates and slap new logos on every other damn thing the airline owns when you might merge with another airline in under a year?



    1. They are trying to say they are not going to merge

    2. If they do merge, they want to keep the American Airlines brand (probably worth more than the U.S. Airways brand so there’s that)

    3. They don’t know what the heck is going to happen and they felt they needed a facelift and now was as good a time as any to do it.

    Wait until all the pundits come out tomorrow with THEIR insights into this. Ought to be fun to watch, listen and read!

    Best always,

  5. Peter… good points, all. I especially like you pointing out that AA is the better brand than U.S.Airways … gee, isn’t US Airways a re-brand of the old ‘Mohawk Airlines’? And as I recall, Mohawk liked to ‘hit the ground’ running, so to speak! LOL We shall see.

  6. I keep an eye on the airline business (I’m and airline brat and worked in the industry for 25 years). I get concerned with re-branding. I think it’s used as a universal fix-all for other ailments. Now, AA had a well established (and respected) brand: instantly recognizable and (agreeing with you) it wasn’t screaming out for a change. The millions being spent here could have gone a long way to have a positive effect in other areas (customer service, baggage allowances etc.) That could have been a positive discriminator. To Joe Public, it’s just a paint job… akin to putting lipstick on a pig!

    Incidentally, back in the good old days of real concern about fuel consumption, a lot of airlines opted for the (admittedly higher maintenance) “naked” look (either complete or partial). A 747 will carry around 1000lbs of paint on it’s fuselage and tail… more if it’s had an over-spray rather than a strip-down. That’s the equivalent of carrying a couple of medium-sized families around for free, all the time, on every flight. There was a significant fuel saving by going predominantly paint-less.

    Useless information is my specialty. You’re welcome 🙂

  7. It is the excellentness with which you convey your useless information, Mr. Bishop, that keeps us riveted to our screens. That, and the fact that we are, um, riveted to our screens. Ouch!

    Best always,
    – Peter

  8. Peter… I couldn’t have said it any better than you have… ” I get concerned with re-branding. I think it’s used as a universal fix-all for other ailments.”

    SO TRUE!

    And yes… “To Joe Public, it’s just a paint job… akin to putting lipstick on a pig!”

    Re-branding has become an entire industry onto itself and frankly, isn’t that also where we also get more than a bit of vo work? LOL BUT really… a ‘pig in a poke’ IS a ‘pig in a poke’! Buyer beware!

    If the newly rebranded AA doesn’t deliver a new and respectful flying experience then it’s nothing but another multi-million dollar ‘New” Coke!

    Would you like ice with that?