New American Airlines identity won’t change how we feel about flying


New American Airlines livery. One observer points out, “there are eleven stripes, one for each chapter of bankruptcy.”

I’ve caught some of the buzz from people weighing in on American Airlines new identity. As I was about to put on my creative director hat and add to the noise, I was struck by the fact that I really don’t care.

Branding and identity are a big part of my career as a creative. I believe in the importance of a clear identity and a solid brand. So how can I possibly say I don’t care?

It’s American Airlines. I don’t know about you, but I shop for flights by one criteria: the cheapest fare from whichever airline is offering a flight to and from my destination. If Delta is $100 cheaper, I’ll fly Delta. That’s it. Why?

Until the airline industry in this country gets its act together, I expect horrible service from all of them. I expect price gouging through asinine fees. I expect cancelled flights and lost luggage. I expect to feel like an imposition on staff.

New logos and paint jobs from any of them won’t make me feel any differently about the experience of flying a commercial airline nor will it influence my preference in which airline to choose. To me, it’s just one big waste of coin to be passed on to the consumers who if you recall, have already provided a financial bail-out to this industry.

Imagine for a minute though, if American Airlines had invested that same time, money – forget that – image if they put the same creative energy into redefining the experience of flying into something positive. Imagine if they simply solved just one of their customer service problems. One. What would that do for their brand in this age of social media? What value would we the consumer place on that?

Now more than ever, businesses need to be educating and nurturing leaders with both creative and strategic chops. Unfortunately, too many “creatives” don’t educate themselves as business strategists  -but that is another discussion entirely.

Did anyone working on the American Airlines identity project stand up and ask, “What’s the point of a new logo if it still sucks to fly with us?

Maybe they did. If so, did anyone listen? I’d really like to know.


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    About Kevin Tobosa

    Creative strategist and author of, a blog for everyone seeking tools and techniques for super-charging creative output.


    1. Matt Thompson says:

      Great article Kevin! I was reminded of another airline incident a few years back involving a guitar!

      Different airline, but same idea. Bad customer service did their brand far more damage than a logo could ever repair!

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