BA to use art in quest for world domination of travel industry

Art is central to the new British Airways identity launched on Tuesday, despite last week’s denials by the airline that this was the case.

Newell and Sorrell has worked closely with BA’s in-house team in commissioning some 15 international artists whose work says something about their local culture. The plan is to have 50 artists on board over the next three years as the identity evolves.

Those images are being adapted with the artists and applied to the tails of BA aircraft, brochures, tickets and merchandise. They will form backdrops to check-in desks in a scheme by architect Fletcher Priest and be the basis for patterns for four new blouses and ties in staff uniforms designed by Paul Costello.

According to BA head of design management Chris Holt, the identity shift was prompted by BA’s need to be seen as a world brand. “The mission is to be undisputed leader in world travel,” he says.

BA chairman Bob Ayling is keen to take up “the challenge of change”, positioning the BA team as “citizens of the world”. To this end the design team is assembling photographs of people of different world cultures to be used alongside the artworks for literature, signs and other BA material.

The new logo features a typeface created by Rodney Mylius at Newell and Sorrell, and named Mylius after him by BA. According to consultancy co-chairman John Sorrell, the original BA “speedbird” device, developed into a “speedwing” by Landor Associates in 1984, has become a “speedmarque” to sit with the logotype.

Red, white and blue remain the main colours of the BA identity. The “softer, rounder” Mylius face appears in blue or white, depending on the background, and the speedmarque in red with blue or white. The aircraft are painted white with a blue underside and with artworks on the tail.

BA’s German sister company Deutsche BA has adopted the same principles in its revamped livery. Its flights are all internal and the artwork featured in its livery comes from four German regions. The underside of the planes is black, in line with the German flag.

The main identity will be rolled out over three years, because of the cost of grounding aircraft for a new livery to be applied. BA’s interiors consultant Davies Barron plans to incorporate it into lounges for the airline’s latest ticket class, World Traveller, due to be launched next year.

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