Fly higher than the competition – Why branding and logo design is important for an airline?

Last Updated on September 25th, 2021

Being a regular traveler myself, I’m quite picky when it comes to air travel. I believe so is every individual who needs to fly high.

The decision becomes even more crucial when an individual plans his/her first trip amidst the clouds or is going on an annual tour perhaps with someone special or just to see another part of the world.

With the competition in the aviation industry soaring high, branding for airlines, is no longer a luxury but a necessity that they have to afford.

Oh no, it isn’t just about new airlines popping up every other day though.

Aviation branding is crucial to an airline’s success. You see, it’s like every flying experience is almost the same.

Unless you tell potential travelers the whys of you being their first choice, their perception for your airline would be the same – a boring flight resulting in jet lag and nothing more.

I’m not omitting pricing and punctuality as key players when it comes to choosing the right flight but as research indicates there are many who seek comfort and a smooth flying experience simultaneously.

Did you know? 35% of a consumer’s decision to fly is influenced by factors other than price and whether or not their air-bus departs and arrives on time? Yes my friends, sometimes we need more than a fast flight.

This is where branding flies in.

A quick word of advice: please don’t ignore the value of professional pilots and a strong body (for the airplane) – advertising/branding will persuade passengers to board your planes but it won’t fly them safely to their destination.  

Here are some branding ideas to help you smoothly takeoff in 2021

1. Focus on your logo design – learn from the best

Logo design remains the core of your airline branding.

Oh yes, you just can’t cut out that rope, can you?

There’s no escape from investing on a good airline logo, designed to become the face of your brand and ultimately the primary ingredient in your branding. From your airplanes to your advertising campaigns, your aviation logo will be a constant companion. So, how should your airline logo look like?

Here’s your checklist.

Flying colors:

National/regional airlines may pick the color palette that can reflect their patriotism – perhaps the color of their national flag, though this isn’t a given.

You intend to aim for international travelers?  Good for you! Bright colors such as red, yellow and orange speak better to potential passengers – culture can enter through other doors discussed later).

This is because bright and warm colors have a welcoming aura. They convey a message of reliability. You’ll often see the color blue accompanying the warmer tints – eventually you will travel across the blue skies, right?

The Srilankan Airlines logo is an excellent example of one that incorporates culture with an attractive color palette.

Branding For Airlines - Srilankan Airlines

Aim for symbolism

Here’ how this works.

Firstly, you need to really know your airline’s name (what does it mean? What’s the idea behind it? You know what I mean) and the values you want to communicate.  

An eye-catching and meaningful symbol is a tool you can wisely use in your logo.

You or rather your designing agency needs to be very smart about this. The symbol should subtly merge with other design elements. It shouldn’t hinder your advertising campaigns either. You can use symbolism to represent a particular value, your company’s vision or a camouflaged meaning. Nevertheless, using this technique can be very useful for your branding in the future as well.

Airline Logo Design - Delta

Here’s a little trivia – I love dishing out some extra info.

Ever heard of Delta? Of course you have but what you perhaps don’t know is that it is counted amongst the top airlines in the world in terms of revenue and the second largest when it comes to the number of passengers. Fancy, right?

Delta’s logo is an ideal depiction of how a symbol can be a multipurpose branding tool.

It looks like a 3D triangle but is actually a very cunning way of creating a 2D symbol. They just played with red and white.

The triangle symbolizes two things: it represents the airline’s name “DELTA” since the Greek symbol for Delta resembles the shape. On the other hand it also signifies the wings of a military jet flying overhead.

What DELTA wishes to convey here is: “we’re ready to fly when you are”.

Patterns that connect

I won’t advise any designer or brand to craft a pattern without meaning, for an airline logo. However, when created with a purpose, patterns can play an important part in designing an impactful logo.

Patterns can make a logo look appealing on your advertising merchandise. It even establishes a connection between the brand and the people of its country.

An alluring and well composed portrayal of this concept can be seen in the Thai Airways logo. Always thought what that pink color was for?

Aviation Logo - Thai Airline

The color represents a magnolia blossom. The pattern connects well with the beauty and serenity of Thailand and there’s no doubt it definitely ups their game in the branding domain. 

It’s getting modern out there

We’re moving ahead and so should our logos. This is why many airlines such as Delta have even redesigned their logos over a considerable period of time.

At least till they could make peace with a design that combined every essential element along with a modern appeal. Modernism or rather a contemporary approach to logo designing can be seen in almost every industry today and airline branding is no exception.

Airline Logo Design -  Delta Logo History

Modernist aesthetics usually include simple compositions, minimum complications and a modern text along with geometric graphics. The American Airlines revamped logo flies ahead of its competitors in this respect.

The new logo features a very inspirational use of abstract shapes to depict a “flying eagle” with America’s traditional hues (red, white and blue).

Branding For Airlines - American Airline

The core purpose of your airline logo is not only to connect with your consumers. Your logo needs to complement everything, from your airbuses to your napkins, staff uniforms and every other branding merchandise.

Even if you opt for a symbolic approach like the golden lotus of Vietnam Airlines or the abstract pattern of Thai Airways, you have to think beyond beauty and what merely “looks good”.

  1. Marketing with your logo

You just can’t bring logos down.

There’s a reason that other branding elements can’t replace the value of a unique logo design. Once you’ve landed on an outstanding airline logo design for your brand, all you need to figure out are the best marketing places for it.  

Here are a few ideas of how you can use an appealing, well-designed logo to take your airline up a notch:

  1. Use the logo and its colors on your staff’s uniforms
  2. Any symbol or pattern can be used on the tail of your airplanes
  3. Flood your social media pages/accounts with your logo and the colors that stand out
  4. Include it in all marketing materials including those napkins and cutlery you’re serving during the flight
  5. Let the logo become an unforgettable visual in the minds of your potential fliers via advertising – Outdoor and Commercials
  6. Keep on making minor, fun tweaks to your logo depending on certain occasions.

For instance, when you’re advertising flights for Easter, place a little egg beside your wordmark or a Christmas hat when the occasion calls for it.

An important read for you: 9 professional logo design benefits you hardly know about

Caution though; you don’t want to lose the prestige of your logo or offend any community.

As I mentioned earlier, you cannot emphasize enough on the significance of airline branding via your logo. This is why your logo needs to be so adaptable. It needs to look great on an airplane while adjusting happily on a keychain or notepad, without complicating matters.

Airline Logo - Emirates

That’s a lot of pressure I know! If you’re perplexed as to where to get an outstanding airline logo designed or your logo revamped, you can contact me and I’ll be happy to welcome you onboard for a casual discussion regarding the branding of your aviation business.

  1. Be unique and witty – TVC/DVC

Here comes my favorite part about airline branding – so buckle-up! You can fly to Neverland when it comes to advertising your airline.

No, no you don’t need Peter Pan to fly your planes. Just be wild when you advertise.

This is because you need people to actually watch your advertisement whether it’s on social media or television. You can convey so much more with a video than you can with pricing and packages available on your website.

The best airlines do use the best tactics – there’s a reason they become are first choice.

Even though this is old news, this one’s worth sharing. Read below.

Emirates filmed a TVC in the era when J.R.R Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings had taken over hearts and minds globally. They casted their own staff members a commercial where everything from their airplanes, staff, checkpoints and even destinations were inspired by the magical works of Tolkien.

Oh no this wasn’t just a tactic to make viewers watch without a purpose.

The entire film revealed (subtly) the relaxing experience and cordial staff Emirates offered, concluding with their actual communication “Middle-east isn’t that far away”.

I’m just watching this again. Wow!

Some campaigns make me wonder “how does so much creative thought exist in one world?”

I am referring to a mind-blowing campaign by British Airways that used a simple insight: the curiosity of almost every human who looks up when an airplane soars high above and wonders “what’s their destination?”

British Airways played on this level of curiosity.

They combined it with technology, creating digital billboards with sensors. As soon as an airplane flew overhead, a child would look up, point towards the sky and the billboard would show the airplane’s number and its destination!! Had to use two exclamations here.

It’s all about attention and recall. #lookup

  1. Communicate your vision

Wish to soar higher than the competition? You need a unique selling proposition.

All your branding, from the experience your provide once passengers have boarded your plane to your advertising content, what you offer better than the others etc.

All of it should be communicated and implemented.

This is where a branding strategy falls into place.

Emirates for instance considers itself to be a progressive airline that has its origins in a developed part of the world (UAE).

So, it promises a luxurious journey.  

They are expensive, yes but they’ll give you an experience that’s worth your money. Emirates realizes the changing behavior pattern of passengers who want something new and exciting – they want to fly to more destinations with a much better travelling ambiance and service. Hence the slogan “Keep Discovering”. 

Aviation Branding

You can even use blogging to reach out to your customers. SEO plays an integral part here. Not only can you provide information regarding certain destinations but can also top the search engine list when travelers are planning a tour and there search phase is at its peak.

  1. Aviation Branding to build a reputation

Did you just get the idea that aviation branding was simply about mesmerizing customers and having a little creative race?

Not at all dear friends. You are highly mistaken (pun intended).

Every gimmick, advertising tactic and branding ultimately has one high purpose and that is to develop a reputation – a good one of course.

You may find it interesting: Merchandise Branding: Why Is It So Important For Your Brand?

Branding for airlines is divided into 4:

The global airlines

Regional airlines

Budget airlines

Charter airlines

Each of these have a reputation to maintain. Perhaps to even establish one.

That’s where branding really gains speed.

Ever wondered why Emirates spends millions of dollars on sponsorships with sports tournaments such as FIFA and football clubs like Arsenal?

They play their own little game (which I don’t mean in any negative way) to win hearts. It keeps reminding people of their significance. They’ll give you discounts on flights to Europe or free merchandise with every ticket you book etc.

Aviation Branding

But, not every brand follows the same map. Some like Virgin Atlantic discover what they already have and work on that. They didn’t collaborate with any sports team. Instead, they focused on making their flight more relaxing with an “at home” experience like introducing a popcorn bar, pajamas, duvet and much more.

Siberian Airlines for instance was looking at new ways to enhance the experience of passengers in Russia. They went musical, transforming their airport lounge at Moscow into a jazz club.

The result? A flood of passengers who couldn’t resist this new luxury.

I’ll allow this little flight to land with a few more lines of advice.

As an airline business you need to first identify the air pockets (problems), the places where customers truly need to experience luxury, comfort or even affordability. Once you’ve realized where you need to improve, focus all your airline branding content on conveying your USP, improvements and anything else you can offer to your customers.

Seriously thinking about aviation branding for your business? Get in touch. Let’s talk about how I can make your brand fly higher than the competition?

  • A Picture of Waqas D.

    Waqas D.

Waqas D. is the co-founder of the branding and website agency, FullStop™. He supercharges brands by crafting memorable logos, brand identities and engaging websites. Besides thousands of startups and medium-size businesses, FullStop has worked with likes of Microsoft & L’Oréal. View our portfolio or get in touch.

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