Avianca, one of South America’s largest airlines with roughly 70 aircraft and over 90 on order have finally announced their new brand, encompassing both TACA and Avianca’s two separate brands into one unified airline. Gone is the iconic red-topped aircraft of old, and instead a modern new minimalist approach has been taken to the livery. As announced recently, our feelings behind the new look are a little mixed. We had hoped that some of the elements of the traditional ‘FutureBrand’ carrier image would have stayed.
However, what can’t be denied is that this is a full and comprehensive redesign. It sits well as the calling card for a ‘Modern’ South America to the rest of the world, and the design is clean and well considered. The tail-fin (now with a subtle gradient in the colouring) is actually fairly elegant device, although not as powerful as the previous brand image. If this design was launched for an airline that was brand new, it would be received differently by public opinion, but sadly, as general consensus had such an appreciation for the old livery, this one has to work hard to beat it. Whilst we like it, for more stubborn fans it may be a livery that grows.
The branding sits well inside the new cabins too, Deep charcoal greys, against a white palette with bright flushes of red is contemporary, robust and won’t age quickly. The cabins, both economy and business now have the appearance of being a truly international carrier (although the angle lie-flat seats are still seen as an inferior business class product internationally). Also announced at the grand unveiling, were the well executed uniforms (bar a few exceptions) The ruana roja (cape) and hat remain from the previous incarnation, but have been modernised to fit with the new look.
Lippincott (the same brand identity agency that created the new United and Delta brands) designed the new look for the airline. “In Lippincott we found a true trusted advisor who partnered with us on this complex journey,” said Fabio Villegas, CEO, Avianca. “Beyond developing an inspired new identity, they helped us identify new customer targets, harmonize the overall passenger experience and counsel us on when it was the right time to launch.”
Added Lippincott Sr. Partner, Steve Lawrence, “Often, when two brands merge into one, the customer experience isn’t aligned until down the road but we all felt it was important to harmonize the customer experience first and then apply a new brand identity versus the other way around.”
“It was important to create a new visual identity that was reflective of the heritage and legacy of both Avianca and TACA but also ushered the brand into its new era of Latin Excellence,” said to Rodney Abbot, Sr. Partner at Lippincott. “We wanted the new identity to build on the symbolic power of the Condor, a symbol long associated with Avianca in a form that figuratively links South, Central and North America.” It can’t be ignored that the Condor logo still has an unfortunate similarity to that of American Airline’s new look. Whilst perhaps a little more elegant in execution, the two brands American and Avianca accidentally give the appearance of being sister companies.
Speaking exclusively to TheDesignAir, the design team at Lippincott told us more about the similarities “If there is a similarity between the two airlines, it is not intentional, however both airlines do share basic identity elements, such as starting with the letter “A” and having bird symbolism – (condor for Avianca and eagle for American). Avianca’s new design was actually completed in September 2012, six months before the new American Airlines livery launched so the similarities are purely coincidental. In fact, Avianca waited to launch the new brand until this week to make sure all elements of the merger were complete and the new airline was fully aligned, harmonizing the customer experience first and then applying the new brand identity.”
They then delved further into the brand concept. “We redesigned the livery to signal that Avianca was changing in a big, dramatic, bold manner – from the Colombian national flag carrier to a larger, international carrier, now representing all of Latin America to the world. As for the change in the color red, we wanted the Avianca name to make a bolder statement. With red predominantly on the plane, the actual name had to be smaller. Using more white, we are able to maximize the size of the Avianca name, bringing more pride to the brand.”
Whilst American is currently struggling to reinforce a sense of permanence regarding its new look since its recent merger with US Airways, (who have worked in reverse from the logical way of working) Avianca have actually worked to combine two brands and unify the messages of both airlines over a 3 year process and this new Avianca look certainly does have the brand reasoning to stay for years to come.