New European Airline Logo

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Some changes in branding and logo design don’t quite make sense to me. A good example of this is the recent change in logo for Swiss International Air Lines. This airline is rather small, but it has a presence reaching far beyond its home nation. Swiss has 72 destinations spread over 39 countries, including the UK.

The old logo was good, and had the right combination of simplicity and meaning. It featured the colours of the Swiss flag as well as the recognizable Swiss cross. In the main version, the word ‘Swiss’ was written in rounded lower case letters.

I am not always a fan of lower case rounded lettering in logo design, simply because it is overused right now and also because the friendly feeling is not appropriate for many kinds of logo. However, I think the font worked here. People want to feel that their airline is friendly and safe, and that their holiday will not be ruined by a rotten several hours on the plane.

The new logo is very similar, but the company has moved outside the box. Instead of squares, the shape of the tailfin of the plane is used, with the cross in the centre. The name is written in similar lettering to the old, but in upper case this time.

According to leadership in Swiss International Air Lines, the change in logo design will be accompanied by a new international marketing campaign. The company wants to be more consistent, using the same logo on livery and in other applications. In addition, they feel the need to emphasize their role as the “Airline of Switzerland.” This logo feels more official and related to the industry, but is that really a good thing? Did the customer base not already realize that this is an airline and where it is based?

In addition to changing the logo, the company has introduced a new tagline: Our sign is a promise. This will be used in marketing and occasionally seen as part of the logo design.

Apparently I am not the only person who is stymied by the change in logo, because there has been an uproar about the issue on Facebook, similar to the protest seen in the US when the Gap developed an unpopular new design. Many people, myself included, feel that the new logo lacks the simplicity and superior design of the old. The cross does not fit neatly into the tailfin shape, creating an aesthetically jarring image. It is just awkward. The old logo, in comparison, was one of the better airline logos out there: clean and modern, like the airline itself.

Also, it feels like the airline is copying the British Airlines – Virgin Airlines in using a tailfin shaped logo design. I hope this is not becoming the latest style, because in most cases it feels clumsy. Swiss needs to give their customer base a little credit: we understand that they are operating an airline, even without such obvious imagery.