British Airways Embraces Tradition


This seems to be the year for airlines to change up their logo design and brand. Sometimes, however, a change in brand can be accomplished without completely rebranding. British Airways’ new advertisement campaign is a good example of this principle.

The new advertising campaign features ‘videos’ of old time flights in retro black and white. You can tell from the first second that the advertisement is attempting to create an old-fashioned feeling. In just one minute and a half, you are taken through a century of commercial flight, with the images becoming progressively more modern. Even the Concorde has a cameo. Toward the end of the commercials, images of modern and old time pilots are juxtaposed. The implications are clear: British Airways is maintaining the tradition and magic of flight even while using modern technology and equipment. At the end of the advertisement, we get a glimpse of the revived BA crest as well as the former strapline: To Fly. To Serve.

Tradition is appealing to many people in the UK market, more so than many others. The crest is intended to bring back the sense of tradition that British Airways once enjoyed. However, while most people in the UK want a traditional experience, we also want to be assured that our airway is using the latest equipment and safety measures. The advertisement does a great job of reintroducing the traditional crest and strapline while assuring the audience that BA is still using the most modern and safe technology.

The coat of arms may be overkill; it seems that every large business in the UK has tried a crest-based logo design at one time or another. British Airways has a lengthy past, but translating this into a heritage-based identity might not be successful. However, it should be noted that this is not meant to replace the current BA logo design so much as to augment it. It is just another part of the British Airways visual identity. The coat of arms has been in existence for decades, although it has been used sparingly in modern times. An advertising campaign such as this one is an effective way of introducing it without compromising the brand’s reputation for safety and modernity.

The company crest has been modernized into a three dimensional, metallic shape that will appeal to the contemporary UK market. However, we wonder whether this new campaign will be enough. When we hear people complain about modern airlines, the subject of service usually comes up. People are treated rather poorly on modern flights. Is this commercial an attempt to assure consumers that they will receive the type of attention that we once expected from a flight? If so, is it direct enough to make that statement?

The real lesson of this brand modification is that UK businesses can make changes to their brands without completely changing the core visual identity. If you are unsure about how to approach the rebranding process, talk to a UK logo designer or branding consultant.