Inside an Airline Rebranding: Alaska Air’s New Look
Photos courtesy of Alaska Airlines
This week, Alaska Airlines unveiled its first major rebrand to its corporate image in over 25 years. The changes add some classy, yet bold color updates and a new title font in blues and greens. But one thing has remained — the airline’s Eskimo tail logo.
"Our company has a unique personality and a vibrant spirit that our Eskimo has personified for almost half a century," said Alaska Airlines CEO Brad Tilden. "We believe our refreshed look reflects the warm relationships our employees have built with our customers, and makes us stand out in a compelling and consistent way as we expand into new markets, build loyalty and attract new customers."
The aforementioned Eskimo is unofficially nicknamed “Chester,” but you’ll never hear anyone with the airline say that. Legend says that a reindeer herder named Chester Seveck greeted passengers for many years when they deplaned at Kotzebue. He is a beloved figure, deeply embedded in the corporate culture of the airline and adored by travelers, especially those native to Alaska. He has appeared on company aircraft since 1972, yet nobody can seem to agree on exactly who the Eskimo is.
According to a blog post by the airline, the Eskimo has a grandfatherly familiarity with natives. Chester was originally one of four tail logos when introduced in 1972, but he is the only one that has endured. A plan to replace Chester’s image in the 1980s was met with public outcry. The rebranding campaign began in 2013, because the Eskimo and their title font did not display well on mobile devices. Seattle-based marketing firm Hornall Anderson helped with the project.
The colors implemented into the new design include Tropical Green and Breeze Blue, reminiscent of the tropical regions Alaska serves, including Hawaii and Costa Rica. Atlas Blue is also a prominent hue, which is a cue to Alaska's 14 global airline partners. "Our refreshed brand really is an evolution, not a revolution, of Alaska Airlines," said Sangita Woerner, the airline's VP of marketing. "Our goal was to reflect the soul of our company, which is known for its genuine, caring service and top-notch performance. It's now time to show up to our customers in a bigger, brighter way."
Alaska Airlines doesn’t only move people — it’s a vital resource to Alaskan communities, bringing mail, medicine and even groceries to remote areas. In some places, booking a ticket on the carrier is the only way people can get to a doctor or hospital. Alaska Airlines has grown slowly but steadily over the past few years, from being primarily a West Coast carrier, then expanding into the central U.S. and East Coast, Hawaii, and as far south as Costa Rica.
The airline will be taking delivery of four new-livery Boeing 737s in the next month, and plan to have 40 planes painted by the end of the year. There are also plans to rebrand signage at all 111 airports they serve before the year is over. Passengers will also soon see changes within the plane as well, as Seattle-based fashion designer Luly Yang has been selected to design new uniforms for flight crews.
More by Paul Thompson
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