American Airlines' New Logo
Question to ponder: If your company is
a) in bankruptcy
b) negotiating a potential mega-merger with a rival
c) in posession of one of the most iconic logos of the 20th century
which item do you take action on first: fixing the financials? moving on the merger? or…losing the logo? If you're American Airlines, you chose the logo. Last week, the struggling air carrier unveiled its first re-branding in over 40 years, and replaced the eagle that has been its symbol for so long with a more abstract shape that relies on gradients and shadows to create a 3D impression.
To be fair, the design change is actually part of a larger effort to reinvigorate the company that also includes new planes, service to new destinations, and upgraded amenities in flight. Yes, American pilots now have iPads in the cockpit. Wonder if the flight attendants force them to turn 'em off during takeoff and landing.
According to Tom Horton, Chairman and CEO of American, the redesign was undertaken “so that the outside of our aircraft reflects the progress we've made on the inside.”
The old logo, designed in 1968 by Massimo Vignelli, helped to create one of the most instantly recognizable brands in the world (the shiny silver planes didn't hurt either).
The description of the new logo at AA.com says it “contains the eagle, the star, the ‘A,’ and refreshed shades of red, white and blue. Together, they represent a clean and modern update to the core icons of our company.” The look is intended to convey “light, vibrant, and modern” impressions. The AA.com website also features a video and slideshow explaining the redesign, and tracing the evolution of the company's logo from its birth in 1934.
So what do you think? Is the new logo cleared for takeoff or grounded?
If you're interested in learning more about the man and the thinking behind the 1968 logo (or you're just interested in some great lessons in typography and graphic design), check out The Vignelli Canon (free, 96 pp. PDF).