Why Repaint An Airplane?

By Mike Maddaloni on Monday, April 30, 2007 at 08:28 PM with 7 comments

new Delta logoToday Delta Air Lines came out of bankruptcy. At an "event" to announce this, they unveiled a new logo and announced they will be repainting their aircraft with it. This is 19th logo for Delta in 78 years, and you can see all the past logos courtesy of the Delta History Museum. The following was from their press release announcing the new logo:

"Delta’s brand, which includes the customer experience and our financial stability, has been changing for the last 19 months thanks to the tireless efforts of Delta people worldwide," said Tim Mapes, Delta’s vice president of Marketing. "Now, it's time to refresh our visible brand identity to mark the progress we've made. It represents the very core of Delta people who are more passionate than ever to provide our customers with the very best experience possible."

From this statement, the logo changes everything, correct? All Delta employees, those remaining after layoffs who have taken pay cuts themselves, will be much happier, right? Aircraft will be much cleaner and in and out of gates on time, no?

I see no need for this. The physical airplane is the last step of the customer experience with the airlines. And my only close-up view of the airplane is very limited, when I am at the gate just about to board the plane. Sure, I may see other planes out the window of the plane I am currently on, but do I look out and say, "oh, I want to fly that airline, they have cooler colors?" By the time I am on the plane, I have made my decision who to fly, paid for my ticket and am ready to get to my destination.

I see the airline industry in line with the retail banking industry, where they change names, rebrand, throw big parties, but what really changes? Is service improved, both in quality and cost of delivery? Can I get personalized service and have a personal relationship with either? How will a new logo on a sign in an airport and a new coat of paint on a plane make a difference to me, the consumer?

Delta isn't the only one guilty of this. When US Airways merged with America West, the combined airline decaled planes with the "throwback" logos of the airlines that merged to make US Airways. Even frugal Southwest repainted the majority of their planes from desert colors to blue. Once again, the painter and signmaker are the ones who truly benefit from these changes, just as in banking.

Now I am waiting for Hugo Chavez and his Citgo to challenge Delta on the similarities of their new logo to his longstanding one!

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