As a British designer working on aviation design and branding projects worldwide – including many projects for British Airways over the past 12 years – am I alone in finding Marcello Minale’s recent letter (DW 24 October) confused and contradictory?
Minale writes that passengers derive reassurance from the “flag” of a national carrier’s identity. He then cites Lufthansa as an example, on whose aircraft livery the national flag of Germany is all but invisible. Is he seriously suggesting that the global marketing strategies of carriers such as Lufthansa, Singapore, United and Varig are somehow imperilled because of the absence of their respective national flags from their aircraft liveries?
Conversely, is it his contention that the international appeal and positioning of British brands as diverse as Gordon’s Gin, Paul Smith and The Body Shop would in future be enhanced were they to be draped with a Union Jack?
The new BA identity programme is pragmatic, confident, creative and innovative, just like the company. However, despite all the argument over the loss of the flag in the identity, the new planes are predominantly blue and white, with a red, white and blue speedmarque and the option of an abstracted Union flag on the tail, currently used on Concorde. This seems far from the image of an organisation rejecting its national colours.
BA is one of the successful power brands of the world – and it is because of its market share that it can afford to do something which is so ground-breaking and, therefore, controversial. BA is one of few organisations which could even contemplate a concept like this.
BA is one of the most design-conscious and visually literate service organisations in the world. Its global reputation is in no small measure attributable to its continuous investment in re-defining the BA brand, through design.
I think it’s time that it was applauded for embracing design in the way we, as designers, all argue businesses should.