“The Heart emblazoned on our aircraft, and within our new look, symbolizes our commitment that we’ll remain true to our core values as we set our sights on the future.”Chairman, President, and CEO, Southwest Airlines
“Overall, I think this is one of the best airline redesigns we’ve seen in many years. There is a clear pride in it from Southwest… It’s almost rare for a company to have this much confidence in a rebranding launch.”Brand New
Photography: Southwest Airlines, Stephen Keller (Southwest Airlines), Esto Photographics, Travis Rathbone Studio, David Arky
Video by GSD&M
Getting to the heart of a beloved brand
HOW International Design Awards: Identity Design
REBRAND: Enterprise Rebrand
dmi: Best Brand Experience, Best Rebrand of a Digital Property
American Graphic Design Awards: Graphic Design
Transform Awards North America: Best Visual Identity from Travel, Brand Evolution
Even with a very human reputation and 40+ consecutive years of profitability, Southwest Airline isn’t immune to competitive and market pressures. Rivals have attacked price by unbundling services, then charging for extras, and they have raised the ante with new services and technologies. Southwest saw an opportunity to develop a new brand identity for a new era — one that would set the business up for continued success.
The goal Lippincott was tasked with achieving? Distill 40+ years of success into a modern, impactful look, uniting a fragmented visual system and helping the airline connect with two highly desirable segments: millennials and business travelers.
Achieving a successful design solution required aligning the company’s vision with its tremendous history. Southwest had long stood for freedom, but our research pointed to something deeper: It has always treated every passenger equally. This led to the insight to focus on what makes Southwest great — its emphasis on people first.
In this examination, we identified the most potent symbolic asset: the heart. While always a part of the brand’s identity, the heart had become overused, with hundreds of variations. We chose to use the heart to make a bigger statement and, in doing so, helped it become a truly iconic symbol. So, in 2014, Southwest claimed the humble but bold heart as its symbol, crystallizing a business philosophy 47 years in the making and showing the world that what started Southwest is exactly what will lead it into the future — treating people more like people.
Complementing the heart is a redesign of Southwest’s livery, airports and website. From planes to snack packaging, the refresh is modern but true to Southwest’s DNA: confident, authentic and full of personality.
Turns out, the company is also the financial world’s top pick, being profitable for 41 years in a row and named airline of the year and top investment pick of 2014. Not only does the airline have a 95 percent appeal to Southwest flyers, it saw a 7 percent increase in consideration among business travelers and a 7 percent increase in brand commitment among the general market.
Southwest was built on the idea that people come first; now it is showing the world that a little heart goes a long way. More than ever, travelers know they’re flying with people who care, no matter where they sit.