American Airlines debuts
new logo and livery

| 62 comments

American Airlines logo and livery

News: American Airlines has unveiled a new logo and livery for its aircraft, designed by brand consultancy FutureBrand.

American Airlines logo and livery

FutureBrand has simplified the American Airlines eagle into a slim diagonal logo, with the bird's white head appearing between red and blue wings.

The aircrafts' bodies will be painted pale silver, with red and blue stripes on the tailfin evoking the American flag. About a quarter of the fleet, or between 150 and 200 aeroplanes, will have the new design by the end of 2013.

American Airlines logo and livery

Massimo Vignelli, the designer who created the airline's outgoing logo, told BusinessWeek he wasn't keen on the new design. "It has no sense of permanence," he said. "There was no need to change. Every other airline has changed its logo many times, and every time was worse than the previous one."

American Airlines logo and livery

Above: the previous logo, designed by Vignelli

Vignelli also noted that FutureBrand had replaced the Helvetica font the carrier had used since 1967. "We used Helvetica, which was brand new at the time," he said. "It looked great. The typeface was great. We proceeded by logic, not emotion. Not trends and fashions."

FutureBrand has also been working with the airline to produce web and mobile apps, airport lounges and onboard menus and branding.

Last year we reported that Finnair had decorated its aircraft with a floral print from Finnish design brand Marimekko and also showed Priestmangoode's design for a first-class cabin with sofas and wardrobes, and the longest flat business-class bed ever made by Pengelly Design.

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Here's some information from Futurebrand:


American Airlines & FutureBrand Partner to Create a Modern New Look for the Iconic Brand

With the launch of a refreshed look and livery for American Airlines, FutureBrand is proud to announce our ongoing partnership with this truly iconic brand. Recognising that it was time for a new look to better reflect the progress it had made in the ongoing modernisation of the airline, American engaged FutureBrand to partner on the modernisation of the logo, livery and overall look and feel of the customer experience.

Our work is inspired by the company’s heritage and incorporates colours and symbols universally associated with the American brand. A reimagined logo — called the Flight Symbol — evokes the star, “A”, and iconic eagle of American’s past, all brought to life in refreshed shades of red, white and blue. Together, they reflect a more modern, vibrant and welcoming spirit.

The logo debuts along with a boldly reimagined livery. With proud stripes and a timeless silver body, the livery expresses American’s origins but also the spirit of modern America: innovative, progressive and open to the world.

During our multi-year collaboration with American, we’ve extended the new look to the broader customer experience — on web and mobile apps, modernised airport terminals and check-in experiences, premium airport lounges, updated onboard menus and communications, as well as a host of new branded elements. We continue our work with American as they continue their journey to modernise.

  • mmmhhh

    That used to be one of my favorite logos of all time, working very well with the silver planes background. Now it just looks cheap.

    • Anton Huggler

      Totally agree!

    • Anna Hamann

      Hurrah! Something fresh for stodgy AA. I like the 'new' red, white and blue.

  • Johnny

    Anna Kövecses’ redesign was far cleaner, much more efficent and attractive.

    • http://twitter.com/lovrolx @lovrolx

      Are you serious? Her entry was a disaster. But it’s not her fault. There just isn’t any talent out there these days. Everything is being done the same way and it all looks cheap and similar to everything else.

      • Soreeyes

        Couldn’t agree more! That’s what happens when “consulting” with uninspiring in-house design departments replaces real creative leadership and design talent. It’s not that there isn’t anything like that out there anymore.

  • Johnny02

    An American Airlines employee asked aviation consultant Michael Boyd, head of the Boyd Group International, for Boyd’s opinion of the new American Airlines logo and livery. Boyd, who speaks his mind, responded:

    “A completely unnecessary re-branding and re-packaging of airplanes, gates, airports, backwalls, and all the rest will cost tens – maybe hundreds – of millions. At a time when retirees aren’t sure of healthcare, employees are losing jobs, and the competition is ready to pounce, to do what Horton is doing is not only an ego trip, but completely professionally irresponsible. It won’t generate a single new passenger. It won’t make American (no longer “AA,” I see) one bit more competitive. If employees have low respect for senior management – this is clearly a symptom of the cause.”

    • gareth

      Bang on.

    • Francesca

      My best friend is an AA flight attendant and she is fuming over this absolutely unnecessary cost. She is unsure if she will still have a job by the end of the year and yet, somehow, they have money to buy new uniforms, new logos, new signage. Appalling and just a slap in the face to all the employees of AA.

  • bnsn 07

    I have no problem with redesigning the logo, but it has an unmistakable French flag quality about it in its colour and proportion.

    The part that really shocks me is the loss of the shiny aluminum body that was the essence of the AA brand.

    I predict AA will redesign the new logo again in the not-too-distant future.

    • Chetty

      or Serbian flag

  • http://www.starcruzer.com MrJ

    A pleasant, if anodyne, redesign that doesn't seem to offer any dramatic improvement over the existing AA logo and colour scheme.

    I do criticise losing a legible identity on the tail, perhaps the best spot for showing the brand.

  • Pat

    I prefer Masimmo Vignelli’s rendition of the logo. I love the simplicity, colour choice and font choice along with the forms in the logo mark that give us a sense of timelessness.

    Agreed with “bnsn 07″: the colours and forms of the new logo bring to mind France.
    The ultra space-age logo is really not who they are.

  • Massimo

    IMHO, I don’t like logos with fading colours or shadows. 2D graphics trying to reach the 3rd dimension with unuseful tricks is a really cheap compromise for a flying company.
    It also seems too dense with concepts but none is truly clear.

  • Concerned Citizen

    Why does the tail look like a keyboard?

    • eahostudio

      They’re just playing with us.

  • EmG

    The color scheme & main new logo is kind of similar to the British Airways logo.

    Definitely a strange move during economically tough times.

  • brononamous

    What a big f*ck up.

  • http://www.dailygrail.com Red Pill Junkie

    Looks too trendy. To wit: the new DC logo, which follows a similar “folded” gimmick.

  • Arenjay

    I really like it.

  • http://ferrettidesigns.com Steve Ferretti

    Finally! It is definitely a redesign long past due for American Airlines. As much as I admire the designs of Massimo Vignelli, the current AA graphics look outdated for American Airlines of 2013. With AA’s recent financial problems it looked like they were on their way out of business with no regard for how they represent themselves graphically in comparison with the competition. I do agree with Vignelli’s assessment of the new design. The new graphics appears to have borrowed a number of design conventions already airborne. It’s a shame AA did not invite Vignelli to be part of the design evaluation team. I think the end result would have been much better.

    • Peter Skipp

      Agree: a sensitive and careful rethink (witness seven generations of Volkswagen Golfs) would have worked.

      Instead, what we are treated to is a corporate burp that will make the textbooks as a monumental failure!

  • mil

    Looks too cheap and dated. Why do they want to change the fantastic logo of mister Vignelli?

  • kiernan

    Sometimes change is bad for airline logos and sometimes price only matters and customer service. So, spending bucks on paint and logo is a marketing scheme that gives people new business. I make logos and no one hires me direct, so I understand the old designer’s fear. His posh seat ended and a new plummer is in vogue at a nasty price tag. Its vogue dude, just look at art today. It’s who and how you feel it and what you feel with that logo. Hidden meaning, message is big over clarity and beauty. Actually, it looks nice, just time to say whether it’s the British, Norweigian, or American flag represented.

  • Peanut

    Excellent, now my AA stuff will finally be vintage.

  • Kirk

    What a shame Vignelli said what he did. Sure it’s hard to see a brand move on but didn’t AA have a logo before his? What would cars look like today if we every design element was sacrosanct. And what was that bit about Helvitica – it was new when we chose it so they should continue using it forever? It’s funny to hear designers objecting to change and an “aviation consultant” giving his two bits on the power of branding.

    • Greg

      I agree with this comment and it is sad that the ego of the previous designer got in the way of change! Change is good and exactly what happened the previous time to the American Airlines logo. And consultants not involved in design should step aside and speak to what they do best.

      I happen to think that the FutureBrand solution is timely and appropriate. This is my opinion, we all have one, but as a designer that understands branding, it was time to take a new step in a new direction for the airlines.

  • Brian

    My first thought was BA, with the “twist” factor and similarities to the ribbon in colour too and it seemed too easy.

    It’s always interesting to me to see comments and opinions on rebranding. It’s like a new pair of shoes; a little uncomfortable at first, but then as time goes on, one gets used to wearing them and they eventually fit well.

    It’s not only about a logo here, but a full brand experience. The logo is just one of many parts… which fit well I think. So well done to the team.

    • Greg

      Well stated in reference to re-branding and the experience!

    • Peter Skipp

      Brian, yes – a complete rebranding, not a revamp. More’s the pity! And no – revamps fail all too often. Need I mention Coca-Cola 1985, Air-India early 1990s, British Airways 1997, Prince (TAFKAP). Mark my words: this rebrand will make the textbooks as a disaster!

  • Peter Scorer

    Too similar to the current British Airways and Air France logos. I bet an AA exec said "I want something like that" — and yes, he got it.

    The livery looks like a funky piano keyboard of some sort. I wish they could have slapped a billowing star spangled banner instead of ambiguous stripes.

  • JayCee

    Is it a stylised waterboard?

  • JayCee

    They look like the jets from "Team America: World Police". They might as well have written F*ck Yeah! on the side of the plane.

  • gs

    It’s so easy to spend and blow money, isn’t it? This project is so unnecessary and such a waste of money. I’m sure the shareholders will be thrilled about this.

  • Michael

    FutureBrand seems to have a passion for these iconic logo makeovers:

    – Paul Rand "UPS" brand
    – Vignelli "AA" brand
    – Original Intel Logo

    Just to name a few…

  • Daniel

    The logo looks like it’s peeling off the fuselage.

  • Anna

    If AA’s new design is patriotic, why is the American flag reduced to an abstraction that is beyond recognition? All I can say is that the new design is completely lacking the tasteful elegance of the old and screams commercialism in a new toy sort of way.

    If you find the new design unattractive, please SIGN THIS PETITION started on Change.org:
    https://www.change.org/petitions/american-airline

  • Zaiga

    A branding refresh is an essential part of remaining relevant with consumers. When aligned with a new corporate strategy, it can act as an important signal to employees and consumers alike that the organisation understands the need to evolve and grow and is prepared to do so. The airline industry is one of the most fiercely competitive industries. What a perfect time to remind consumers why they are the best and that they are still relevant and progressive.

    “Helvetica looks great”. Sorry, not a valid reason to justify its use. The brand supports an organisation’s values and product, it isn’t there to just “look good”. Move with the times!

    • Peter Skipp

      Zaiga, what exactly are you saying, in plain English? “Branding refresh,” “relevant with customers,” “corporate strategy,” “need to evolve and grow,” “fiercely competitive,” an organisation’s values and product” come across as so much corpspeak.

      Hang on, what’s that noise? Oh, it’s just old C. R. Smith spinning in his coffin!

  • An MBA from BC

    Michael,

    I see that as well, some people are the “chosen few” with the software package that wins the most clients on the power grid and the internet. Advanced Programming Marketing is just that – putting biorhythms and voices on the grid for marketing. As you noticed, the most verbose get the work. Illegal, yes, but critics say it’s the forum of democracy. Too bad you and I were not given a grid matrixing box at graduation like all Harvard MBAs for free.

  • Tom

    Blasphemy.

  • Hedwig de la Fuente

    Change is always hard for designers when they did not design the change. I find the new logo and look fitting for 2013. I visited the FutureBrand and AA website to get more of the new look. Great change I would say. This video completes it. http://www.aa.com/newamerican?anchorLocation=Home

  • http://www.starcruzer.com MrJ

    Pity to lose the shiny fuselage, but necessary, as AA’s new fleet orders are for aircraft with mostly composite construction rather than aluminium.

    • Peter Skipp

      MrJ, I am sorry but you’re merely mirroring the excuse AMR put out for the whole sorry rebranding mess.

      In fact, in the 1960s AA flew BAC One-Elevens that had to be brown-primed and had aluminum foil applied to them. In the 1990s they flew A300s that were grey-primed and sort-of fitted the fleet. Think how classy aluminum-foiled 787s would have looked!

  • Greg

    The new logo is very fitting for the times and change is good!

    But more importantly needed, and NOW, is for the airline to make improvements that sustain the economical times and allow for financial growth and prosperity!

    It’s not just about looking good, but being good. American should look much deeper into their organization and figure out quickly how to grow profitably and survive for a long time!

  • Peter Skipp

    To dump a world top ten brand is a sin. To do it when your company is in deep trouble adds insult to injury. To replace it with something a third world minister of transport’s daughter could have designed on her iPad is an affront to good taste.

    The typeface maybe I can live with. The anaemic and out-of-place “flight symbol” is straight out of 1980s bank design, with dated half-tones. The tail… a circus tent… a barber pole… something out of post-Soviet Central Asia or Castro’s Cuba… There is no engaging detail (bare engines, bare winglets).

    They are lying about plastic 787s having to do away with the bare-metal look! The 1960s BAC One-Eleven had aluminum foil applied to it to mask the beige primer. The 1980s A300s flew in a mid-gray primer. Tail fins have long been gray.

    In years to come, this will be regarded as a textbook-example disaster!

  • Jeroen

    Personally I like the redesigned logo, except for the new tail design, which is a bit too much for my taste.

    For the rest, a nice clean logo that respects the past, but is unmistakably contemporary. Nothing wrong with that.

  • gareth

    I think the best way to describe the work is the following…

    WASTE OF F*CKING TIME AND MONEY.

    You can choose the clean version if you wish…

    WASTE OF TIME AND MONEY

    Either way, they have decided to spend a lot of time and money in doing two things very well.

    Firstly, they have cost themselves a ton of real cash for no real gain. I can completely understand the value of rebranding when the end goal is something tangible like gaining profits or changing public perception after some sort of PR clusterf*ck but just for the hell of it? And just for the hell of it in a very down financial market where pennies are being pinched? Doesn’t really seem to make an awful lot of sense.

    The second thing that they have done with total aplomb is to take a globally recognised brand and flush it down the toilet. Not only that but they have replaced it with an also ran, me2, pepsi-can’t-make-it’s-mind-up-again, Web2.0, is it a French airline or British Airways NEW improved and better than ever logo.

    One of the single most amazing things about logos that have been around for a long time is exactly that. They have stood the test of time, weathered all sorts of storms, risen above their piers and become part of the landscape. They are islands of permanence in an impermanent world. We navigate our world by them. Take them away and people look elsewhere or start to compare them with other newer, less well recognised brands. You can’t buy history when you build a brand, you have to make it yourself. AA had it in spades, now they have a new brand that makes them look like they touched down yesterday. Piss-poor and pointless.

  • Rob T

    They had the strongest image ever presented by any airline in the world, and they got rid of it. It was never going to look dated and it never needed to be changed. This is awful news.

  • Ed S.

    Is it an attractive piece of artwork? To me, yes. Was it a wise decision to rebrand? For all the reasons listed above, uh, I doubt it.

  • Sam

    Appalling. I agree that AA’s branding had become cluttered, frustrating and counter-intuitive, but that has nothing to do with a logo and everything to do with the thoughtless brand management of the company itself.

    What AA needed was a REFRESH, not a multi-million dollar REDESIGN. Now they’ve simply lost what brand equity Massimo helped them obtain.

  • http://andrewokoro.com Andrew Okoro

    This design is total crap. not an iconic representation fit for an iconic company such as AA. And what with this new thing with “American”. This is sad and unfortunate. “AA” should have just refreshed the old logo.

    Now in a few years they’ll spend millions of dollars to redesign this brand identity again, because will it definitely not last.

  • http://Adlai-partners.comt Adlai

    Vignelli is truly a great designer but I tend to differ with him on this one. The new logo is fresh and dynamic and does good to the somewhat outdated brand.

  • http://www.brgstudio.com nulla

    Brands of many companies they all seems to be re-designed in a more fashionable way. Most of the time they all look similar, they follow the same guidelines, and aren't planned to last for long. I normally prefer the old ones, but things have to move on, and it maybe works for business (as everyone is doing it). Time will tell us.

  • Jim Flanders

    I like the new design but think it should be on the tail fin and large. Planes would not have to be painted.

  • Adam Lenio

    Did anyone else notice that it appears that the new design is a panel *peeling* off of the surface? Can’t imagine this is a desired connotation. Other than that small contradiction, the design on its own is rather enjoyable.

  • http://twitter.com/VladymirRogov @VladymirRogov

    Good work. It’s also about time we redesigned all the interstate highway signage. Driving any place is dull and uninspiring. Time to design a new world.

  • Tony

    There was nothing wrong with the scissor eagle. It was the stripes. It's as bad as the Delta interim livery. Truly a "Ray Finkle"!

  • grace

    It looks like Pepsi.

  • ALDIS Brozovskis

    In the meantime, there is talk of American merging with US Airways. Will that mean another redesign and repainting the freshly repainted planes?

  • http://matt-yee.tumblr.com matt

    Nice redesign. Really dig it. The tail scheme is awful though. Did they decide to chuck the elegance out the window?

  • rburger

    Why design a logo that looks like the tail of an aircraft and then proceed to not put it on the tail of said aircraft?