What the experts really think about that identity

The dust is just settling after the unveiling of British Airways’ new identity last week. We asked a handful of design industry experts whether they thought all the fuss was justified

‘We are glad that it’s controversial. It proves that identity doesn’t have to be absolutely overwhelmingly uniform.’

Richard Williams, managing director, Williams Murray Banks

‘My initial reaction is that this is a very exciting move and a very bold one. In respect of identity design, they are pushing some barriers forward.’

Raymond Turner, design director, BAA

The redesign has ‘charm, humour and the sort of style not usually associated with a huge multinational business’.

Terence Conran in The Daily Telegraph

‘I think it’s bold and innovative. There are a few world brand leaders able to push the boundaries of reputation because they have the distribution and stature to do so. The need for stature or regimentation is key to an airline identity, because of the issues of safety, maintenance and cabin staff. With market leadership [BA] is no longer fettered by the limits of any nationality. World brand leaders can take a personal tone and have a direct relationship with customers.’

John Diefenbach, chief executive officer of US group Diefenbach Elkins, who handled BA’s last redesign when he was at Landor Associates

‘The multicultural tail-pieces are certainly eye-catching. Strategically, it’s an imaginative and exciting direction for BA to go in, and its positioning concept is just right for making a play to be the global airline. The BA/Newell and Sorrell design team has attempted to create a mould-breaking airline language which reconciles the opposing poles of global endorsement and local flexibility.

Richard Ford, executive creative director, Landor (designer of the previous identity)

‘This is lunacy. If BA stands for anything, it is a corporate image. The design should be related to the image. There is nothing here that is identifiable.’

Brian Sewell, art critic of the London Evening Standard, quoted in The Times

‘I think it’s terrific. I think it has actually moved mainstream corporate identity on a notch. Small companies have been adventurous on occasions. But big mainstream organisations have very rarely been adventurous. It’s a great concept, the idea of creating a global airline by bringing cultures together. I wish I’d thought of it.’

Jonathan Sands, chairman, Design Business Association

‘Viewed individually [the speedwing and artworks] produce beautiful and fresh surprises. As a fleet, however, these tails may prove problematic for building a leading international identity. BA has elected to promote “global personality” through ethnic diversity. Does “global personality” exist beyond cliche?’

Daniel Kraft, designer, Interbrand Zintzmeyer & Lux

‘Personally, I think it’s the best thing since Braniff International Airlines in the Sixties. They painted all their aircraft different colours. Going to local artists is a great idea, but my heart sank when people like David Hockney were mentioned. That’s been done before. The whole approach has been terrific: I think the problem now is living up to what this identity represents.’

Peter Stimpson, creative director, Sampson Tyrrell Enterprise

‘I thought we were being courageous with the BT identity but the BA identity is very courageous, very brave and very well done. They have taken an adventurous and radical approach which sometimes we need to do more often.’

Tony Key, BBC corporate head of design

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