Skift Take

We would totally put any of these logos on a t-shirt! But seriously, airline branding is a serious multi-billion dollar matter, and smart airlines are using their distinctive logos to stand apart. Or should.

We’re obsessed with travel branding here at Skift, and earlier this year we came up with a fun list of the “20 Most Colorful Airlines in the World,” which was very well received.

This time we decided to go a little deeper, and explore logo design with this new list. The criteria wasn’t exactly scientific, or deep, just in the eye of the…well, us Skifters. It was a mix of what looks great on an airline tail, plus what would look great on a t-shirt.

These 30 airlines from around the world represent a broad geographic mix, and show the predominance of national flag carriers when it comes to conveying a sense of history through the logo design.

Some observations:

  • Birds dominate airline logo and branding, for obvious reasons. Other animals come second.
  • The flag carriers (the national carriers) are the ones with most eye-catching and historic logos.
  • Ironically, Iran Air, which has been severely hampered by the international sanctions against the country it represents, Iran, has one of the most eye-catching logos of all.
  • Most of the ornate ones have been refreshed for the modern era, and hence you see a lot of them with curved lines and pastel colors.
  • Some of the Middle East airlines, with their cool Arabic calligraphy/typography, work very well when it comes to conveying brand distinctiveness.
  • Landor Associates is everywhere as the design agency of choice when airlines around the world need to refresh their branding; followed by Interbrand and Futurebrand.
  • Low-cost airlines have been at the forefront in making their airline design colorful, as our previous list highlighted, but don’t figure anywhere in intricate logo design.
  • Africa is under-represented, which shows the state of airline branding and marketing in the continent, though that is rapidly changing with new entrants, especially the low-cost ones.
  • Three U.S. airlines show up in the list — Alaska, American and Hawaiian — though Southwest may qualify in a bigger list.
  • We chose not to include British Airways because of the ubiquity of its design and color scheme, and with its actual logo being too generic and simplified to figure in our litmus test of t-shirt design.
  • Etihad and Qatar need to catch up with its bigger cousin Emirates, which is miles ahead when it comes to overall branding and marketing.

Did we miss any you think deserves to be part of this list? Tell us in comments below.

Related ReadThe 20 Most Colorful Airlines in the World

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Tags: alaska airlines, american airlines, emirates air, fiji airways, hawaiian airlines

Photo credit: Fiji Airways, one of the coolest looking new airline designs on the market.

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