futurebrand: american airlines rebrand
futurebrand: american airlines rebrand futurebrand: american airlines rebrand
jan 17, 2013

futurebrand: american airlines rebrand

american airlines have unveiled a new brand image that will roll out from today


futurebrand have rebranded american airlines, their new ‘flight symbol’ will replace the celebrated 1968 massimo vignelli design.



 evolution of the american airlines logo



the evolution of a true american iconamerican airlines is one of but a handful of brands considered true american icons. strong and proud, its silverbirds are fixtures in the sky, and its namesake sense of possibility inspires deep loyalty. today, the company’s also invested in that most american of ideals: progress.


american recognized it was time for a new look to better reflect the progress of its multi-year journey towards modernizing the airline and its customer experience.




the new look, the next step in american’s overarching transformation is inspired by the company’s heritage and incorporates colors and symbols universally associated with american. a reimagined logo, called the ‘flight symbol’ evokes the star, ‘A’, and iconic eagle of american’s past, all brought to life in refreshed shades of red, white and blue. together, they reflect a more modern, vibrant and welcoming spirit.


the logo also debuts alongside a boldly reimagined livery. with proud stripes and a timeless silver body, the livery expresses american’s origins but also the spirit of modern america: innovative, progressive and open to the world.



the new wordmark with the ‘flight symbol’



the ‘flight symbol’


3D model of the the ‘flight symbol’



the new AA livery sees the logo removed from the tail and red and blue stripes introduced


how the old tail (left) compares with the new design (right)



new logo applied to the famous silver planes of AA

  • I like the idea, however, I notice that every logo since 1934 has featured the iconic eagle.
    Although you have subtly incorporated this within your design, it is not ‘there’.

    Regardless, nice work

    Malc says:
  • I like the brand mark; it’s certainly more inviting than the classic one, and I like the sense of motion. But I feel that it’s probably limited to always appearing with the company name unless they can make it recognizable on its own (like the Apple or Mercedes Benz marks). That may prove difficult with such a simple abstraction. Only time with tell I suppose.

    Also, it’s never shown without the shading–as just flat color. I’m guessing that’s because the white part wouldn’t show up printed on white, unless you make most of it grey…and there goes your red, white, and blue concept. Actually they should tweak it to silver and call it that…which leads to my next point.

    The striped tail on the airplane itself just feels like an afterthought. I can’t believe they didn’t leave the top solid blue, the bottom red with the silver airplane body dissecting the two as in the logo, giving you another reference for the abstraction. The way it is now my eye goes back and forth between the logo and tail trying to link the forms…the concept… but always coming up with a near miss.

    James Allen Ford says:
  • Such a stupid idea!!!!
    the previous logo was one of the most beautiful logo EVER!
    seems they prefer mediocrity to beautiness…

    marcos says:
  • Great work. A simple re-interpretation.
    Would have preferred to see the grey wing ‘tip’ to remain horizontal at the top edge and curve up from below, rather than droop slightly.
    Looks great though, *round of applause*

    pg says:
  • Although I like the aesthetics of the new logo, I am afraid it does not communicate American Airlines at all. In fact it could be the logo for whatever airline. In some way, and if you look closely to it, the shape reminds of the right half of an “A”, but you really have to strive to see it.

    As Malc says, it looks like it will be necessary to accompany the logo with the company name.

    Diego Sandino Esteban says:
  • “It seems to me that there was no need for American Airlines to undertake such a change, but many people do not understand the difference between Design and Styling, and believe in change for the sake of change,”

    “Design cannot cover the mistakes of bad management, but styling can. That is why American Airlines opted for that solution. (Eleven stripes for a Company in Chapter 11? an appropriate solution….). The logo we designed 45 years ago had equity, value and timelessness.”

    marcos says:
  • truly great design.
    “marcos” nothing about your statement makes sense.
    “Diego” its not the logo’s job to communicate american airlines at all, (although i think it does fine). Its the branding that does that. for instance does the pepsi logo communicate pepsi to you? only because of the years of branding you’ve been subject to. 🙂

    GiDesign says:
  • I kind of liked it at first sight… But then I looked it from far and it sort of looked like there are two stickers blue and red… And the red one is slowly losing stickyness and fly away…. And honestlyI don’t think it’s good now. And I must say, with all respect to Vignelli and the NYC subway map, AA logo has never been a favourite of mine.

    Djem says:
  • I think the brand should make better use of the vertical profile of the wing tail, because in itself this wing is already an A.
    I liked the idea of turning the trace of A in an eagle’s head, but would like to see a study in which the artist transformed the eagle’s wings in two A.
    The tradition of American Airlaines allows the subjectivity of the new brand, but the effect was more French than American.
    Beautiful design, but with a little too soft movement, suggesting airplane instead of aircraft.

    Sérgio Werneck de Figueiredo says:
  • A very modern and fresh identity, delivered with great economy and taste. Good work.

    Ithateng Mokgoro says:
  • looks like 3D goggles

    buzzoff says:
  • Very generic…

    sirhc says:
  • Big mistake it doesnt transcend….the existing logo is far better is not friendly

    Linda says:
  • Although I like the new logo, it’s somewhat reminiscent of the Mitt Romney campaign logo, no? Am I the only one seeing this?

    Noe says:
  • I think it is a really nice transition. When I first saw the logo I thought it was cool. But I do not agree with where the logo was applied to the plane. That logo SCREAMS to be placed on the tail of the plane not on the fuselage. Just like United’s old logo before the merge with Continental.

    Rob says:
  • I feel some of bias toward the old logo is largely due to the fact that it was designed by an icon. Vignelli’s AA logo is beautiful, credible and iconic. But Vignelli is not American Airlines and it is 2013, not 1968.

    Much love to Vignelli. A true design legend.

    Dominic says:
  • It’s a strange design having an eagle without the eagle. The old one now a bit dated but personally see this rebrand as a bit of a flop. I do like the tail design though.

    Milos says:
  • Refreshing. Timeless.

    David says:
  • fail!… not working over white background (every plane default colour) so they decided to apply that shadow crime to solve it, not working though.

    juan says:
  • It’s nice and looks like an airline logo or mark – but I thought it was very reminiscent of the British Airways Ribbon logo.

    Lee says:
  • Futurebrand remakes the Landor 2002 JAL rebrand fail.

    qwertyale says:
  • GiDesign it sounds like you’re saying a logo doesn’t matter as long as your branding sells it. But in a time where everyone’s branding is sleek and clean and ‘cool’ having a logo that’s timeless and puts across your brand in a second is a great asset.

    In my opinion it looks like they’re trying to appeal to markets outside the US. The step away from helvetica suggests they’re trying to distance themselves from corporate America and if we’re honest the logos colours are closer to the French flag than the US.

    In flat colour this wouldn’t look great and I think that’s the test of a logo, the Nike swoosh or the Apple apple work well because they’re simple. I don’t think this will last the 45 years the previous logo has

    Craig says:
  • It looks French. Doesn’t it look French?

    NW says:
  • NW, yes it does. It’s a narrow, slanted French flag.

    Thom says:
  • Everything that is wrong with branding theory today, encapsulated in a single aircraft livery. If the airline survives as a brand (and there are big doubts it will), that tail will be redesigned before the decade is out, mark my words.

    The only thing they got right was leaving most of the plane aluminum. Same, disappointing humanist sans serif treatment as Microsoft’s reboot. Futurebrand did far more appealing work for BA.

    Scott says:
  • The “flight symbol” (that seagull modestly poking its head through a shower curtain) is: anaemic, too thin, in the wrong place, out of touch with the rest of the livery. Haftones were getting to be passe in the 1990s. It looks like a me-too credit card logo from the mid-1970s. I have a feeling Futurebland intended it to go on the tail and someone at the Client, ahem, put their foot down…
    The tail is unspeakably awful. The Uruguayan highlife would damn it as too gaudy if an ambitious low-cost startup in that country tried to adopt it. A circus tent? A barber pole? A rip-off of United’s dreadful battleship grey 1990s tails?
    There is no intriguing and engaging minor detail around doors, on engines and winglets.
    The airplane’s belly (which is what most folks see, for God’s sakes!) is unaddressed. Look at JetStar and Emirates for what can be done there.
    The American typeface is okay, just — if it was applied to a post-Soviet national airline running weekly schedules to Moscow and Beijing…
    As to plastic 787s meaning the end of the bare metal look, nonsense! AA operated aluminum-foiled BAC One-Elevens in the 1960s (Vickers had them beige-primed). They flew mid-gray primed A300s in the 1990s. Imagine the plaudits a nod to tradition in the form of foil on 787s would have earned AA!
    Watch and see how this disaster makes it into the textbooks as an example of how (when, by how much, why, et c.) _not_ to revamp corporate identities.

    Peter Skipp says:
  • Lots of haters out there. Let me guess … you’re all designers who never had the opportunity to work on a serious brand. This work is fantastic. It’s tied to business strategy, communicates modernization at a critical time for the company, capitalizes on the smart business decisions the company is making to rejuevinate their fleet and captures the spirit of travel. You don’t have to hate to be good at our job. And, by the way, they did a very good job of launching the brand and enabling the organization to carry it forward. You’ll never get anywhere in your career if all you do is look around and see stupid people and bad ideas.

    Bret Starr says:
  • Since when did critique become “hating”? If nothing is left to critical analysis and peer review then lets have all of our kids “refrigerator art” be used for corporate identity. Conceptually an argument can be made for the new identity, but it’s execution with gradients and drop-shadows illuminate it’s inherent design weakness. If you have to use rendering techniques to execute your concept then it’s design is unnecessarily overly-complicated. Finally, why would you need to generate a 3D model of something that is inherently 2 dimensional? Corporate Identity is not a sculpture or a model or piece of architecture, it’s a graphic.

    “Simplicity is not the goal. It is the by-product of a good idea and modest expectations.” – Paul Rand

    Jason Foote says:
  • For me, the AA design is a failure of rigor as applied to design. The logo trend of witty logo marks employing the strategy of double entendre as historically demonstrated in the Rand’s Westinghouse and IBM logos and more currently in the Fedex logo by others, all distinguished examples of graphic employ, do not resort to a LITERAL third dimension (double entendre not withstanding), for their multi-layered meanings.
    The failure of Futurebrand occurs when one’s mind allows the unfurling of the red shape, allowing it to return to a pure graphic…whereupon its meaning becomes arguable. The distinguishing element of the previously mentioned examples all shared a common quality…memorable “revelation”…a sort of punctuated conclusion.

    Had the bird-like allusion been achieved by applying the wind machines to a more directly derived “A” conveyed in a purer graphic, admittedly a far more rigorous task, Futurebrand might have come closer to the legendary Rand results.

    Chaszr says:
  • Guess what the rebanding is designed to merge the airline with some other carrier. It has nothing to do with good design or improving the corporate image, its all about merging. AA will no longer be AA and that is what this logo is about.

    Mikewisp says:
  • Maybe it would be better to put the newly created logo on the tail. The investment in the new logo seems wasted by its small size and the fact the windows get in the way. The red and white stripes don’t project a sense of class that a flagship airline should.

    Francie says:
  • Lets be real here, the reason American changed their plane layout was because of 9/11, I think they feel because of the amount of documentaries they show with the AA livery has sort of kept people away from flying with them. This is how they feel… I personally think they should stop worrying about their livery and concentrate more on their costumer service.

    Andy says:

have something to add? share your thoughts in our comments section below.
all comments are reviewed for the purposes of moderation before publishing.

comments policy
designboom's comment policy guidelines
generally speaking, if we publish something, it's because we're genuinely interested in the subject. we hope you'll share this interest and if you know even more about it, please share! our goal in the discussion threads is to have good conversation and we prefer constructive opinions. we and our readers have fun with entertaining ones. designboom welcomes alerts about typos, incorrect names, and the like.
the correction is at the discretion of the post editor and may not happen immediately.

what if you disagree with what we or another commenter has to say?
let's hear it! but please understand that offensive, inappropriate, or just plain annoying comments may be deleted or shortened.

- please do not make racist, sexist, anti-semitic, homophobic or otherwise offensive comments.
- please don't personally insult the writers or your fellow commenters.
- please avoid using offensive words, replacing a few letters with asterisks is not a valid workaround.
- please don't include your website or e-mail address in your comments for the purpose of self-promotion.
- please respect jury verdicts and do not discuss offensively on the competition results
(there is only one fist prize, and designboom usually asks renown professionals to help us to promote talent.
in addition to the awarded designs, we do feel that almost all deserve our attention, that is why we publish
the best 100-200 entries too.)

a link is allowed in comments as long as they add value in the form of information, images, humor, etc. (links to the front page of your personal blog or website are not okay). unwelcome links (to commercial products or services of others, offensive material etc. ) will be redacted. and, ... yes, spam gets banned. no, we do not post fake comments.

(2 articles)


a diverse digital database that acts as a valuable guide in gaining insight and information about a product directly from the manufacturer, and serves as a rich reference point in developing a project or scheme.

design news

keep up with our daily and weekly stories
502,384 subscribers
- see sample
- see sample