Alaska’s rebrand was well received when it was launched at the end of January with aviation fans (including us) around the world taking to the refreshed look. Sometimes though even a small shift in the look of an airline can take many months of painstaking work as historically speaking, liveries have to last decades, not years or even months, so attention to detail is crucial.
Hornall Anderson aren’t new to the aviation world. They worked on the EOS brand before the transatlantic venture sadly folded. We talk exclusively to David Bates, Creative Director at Hornall Anderson, based in Seattle, about the pitfalls and complexities of the Alaska brand.
“We started working on the Alaska Airlines rebrand exactly a year ago. The process continues to this day as we are working with them in real time to learn from our brand launch out in the wild, and to refine and extend as we move forward together.” says David Bates.
But Alaska Airlines has a strong established brand already. It must have been part of the creative process to ask the question of changing the brand in its entirety.
“If you mean rebrand it as in to move away from the equity of the Eskimo, then, no. We were asked to include him and we felt strongly that he should be evolved, but preserved as well. When you have such an identifiable and iconic brand such as Alaska Airlines, we felt that his role should be more than the face on the tail, which he was reduced to in 2014.”
When asked, David explained that preserving the perceived heritage and the emotional attachment people have with a brand is one of the greatest complexities with modernising a brand.
The biggest shift in the brand was the addition of colour into the brand, with ribbons of green and blue found on both livery and printed materials.
“The colours represent the energetic soul of the brand. We were inspired by the northern lights in terms of the range of color one sees in them and the fluidity and motion in which they are represented. The colours themselves are built on the foundational colors of the airline. Blue and green were equity colours. We added a more dynamic range of blues and a brighter more energetic green, while preserving a deep, rich, foundational blue which we refer to as Midnight Blue.” said David Bates.
But the Creative Director of Hornall Anderson has very personal ties to Alaska Airlines, meaning this project resonated with him. “I have always been a big fan of Alaska Airlines, as my father was the Director of Advertising and Marketing back when the airline introduced the Eskimo in ’72. They were very progressive for the time and originated the idea of a flexible system of identities (Eskimo, Russian Orthodox Church, totem and gold prospector), as well as the identity of these living as a super graphic on the tail.”
“Other current airlines such as Hawaiian and Etihad have pretty strong or emotionally resonant brands. I also love Lufthansa as it is so pure to their heritage and still is looked up to as the pinnacle of airline quality and service, much like the golden days of the jet set airline industry.”
David Bates did have one regret with the rebrand though that would speak to most of our readership. “We wanted to give everyone that works for Alaska Airlines a 1/200 Gemini Jets scale model of the new livery design to admire at the launch.”
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