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VIDEO US Airways A319 painted in American Airlines colorsWatch a time-lapse video of N809AW, a US Airways A319, being repainted in American Airlines' new livery. (www.youtube.com) More...
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I know it was old, a little tired and a little dated, but the bare metal and the AA logo over the stylized eagle wings that were the American livery for all of my adult life should have stayed. It was the one stable, classy thing in airline branding. United changed livery three or four times, the list of defunct/merged airlines is staggering as their livery disappeared (I loved the Braniff "Flying Colors") but American always looked like American. OK, I'm a old guy who is not particularly fond of change, but American, back when flying was several large notches above Greyhound (I was flying for business in the suit and tie days), really was THE domestic airline for my air travel dollar. Ditto the late, great Pan Am for international flights.
I'm 24 years old. The American Airlines logo was still good. More importantly, it was iconic. That's a word that gets thrown around a lot, but the reality of it is this. The American Airlines logo was instantly recognizable. It conveyed just about everything it needed to convey instantly. It belongs up there with the London Underground Roundel and the McDonalds arches. I re-watched the unveil video from January of last year, and it was fairly blatant that they had no clue what they were doing. It's right there in the script, "you've been hearing a lot about how the modern travel experience is going to feel, and today we're ready to show you how it's going to look." He isn't talking about the American Airlines experience, he's talking about the "modern travel experience." He could be talking about anything! He then has to actually specify that he's talking about a new American Airlines logo. Tom Horton proved in one sentence that his own airline's "vision" was terrible.
Change for the sake of change is almost always a wrong idea. NBC has updated its logo occasionally over the years but you know what? The peacock is always there. The stuff around the peacock changes, but the real branding device, the peacock, is always in the picture, very little changed since its introduction in the late '50s. Iconic is the right word.
In my experience the most recognizable carriers were Braniff, TWA, Eastern & PanAm. Loved them all. AAL, USAir, UAL are all horrible; Delta ranks low on my list.
Being a west coast guy, I didn't have a lot of exposure to Eastern. But their "Wings of Man" advertising campaigns, narrated by Orson Welles, were absolutely the best. True class and true classics.
Here's a link to one of Eastern's great radio commercials, lifted from a 1970 aircheck of WLS in Chicago. This is so good it gives me goosebumps.