Logo Design Love

For graphic designers and all who love logos.

Airline logo designs

This is the first in a series of logo designs from famous airlines around the world. Where possible, I have indicated the year in which the logo was designed, and the designer responsible.

Aer Lingus
Designed in 1996.

Aer Lingus logo

Aer Lingus was founded by the Irish Government in April 1936 to provide air services to / from Ireland. The first flight, from Dublin to Bristol, took place on May 27th 1936. The Irish shamrock symbol first appeared on Aer Lingus tailfins in 1965. A simple mark that captures the country well (green, leafy, quite lucky too?).

Air Canada
Designed in 2004.

Air Canada logo

The maple leaf is the well-known symbol for Canada, and has been used for the organisation since it was known as Trans-Canada Airlines.

American Airlines
Designed by Vignelli Associates, in 1967

American Airlines logo

This is the typographic counterpart to the ‘AA’ logo with stylized eagle. Vignelli Associates are also responsible for the identity of Benetton and Great North Eastern Railway (GNER).

British Airways
Designed by Newell & Sorrell, in 1997

British Airways logo

The BA ribbon was previously accompanied on tailfins by ‘ethnic art’ designs. This didn’t last long, however, as former British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, famously draped her hankerchief over a small model of BA 747 aircraft, showing her disgust at the design.

What was it she said?

“We fly the British flag, not these awful things.”

Continental Airlines
Designed by Lippincott Mercer, in 1991

Continental Airlines logo

For me, the globe symbol is too busy, and I’d prefer to see less detail.

Interesting fact: In 1963, Continental hired the first black pilot to work for any major carrier in the United States, Marlon Green, after a United States Supreme Court decision allowed a Colorado anti-discrimination law to be applied to his case. From Wikipedia.

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines
Designed by F.H.K. Henrion, in 1961
Modified by Chris Ludlow at Henrion, Ludlow & Schmidt, in 1991.

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines logo

Interesting fact: KLM was founded on October 7, 1919, making it the oldest carrier in the world still operating under its original name.

Lufthansa
Designed by Otto Firle, in 1918
Modified by Otl Aicher, in 1969

Lufthansa logo

The man who invented Lufthansa’s brand-mark, Otto Firle, is said to have been thinking of a crane when he came up with the design. Otl Aicher introduced the circle, and some people wonder if the trapped bird signifies Lufthansa’s economy class.

SAS Scandinavian Airlines
Designed by Stockholm Design Lab, in 1998

SAS Scandinavian Airlines logo

SAS uses its proprietary typeface ‘Scandinavian’, designed by Stockholm Design Lab.

Qantas
Designed by Lunn Design Group, in 1984

Quantas logo

A winged kangaroo was used for almost 40 years, before this non-flying design was introduced.

More airline logos will follow soon, here on Logo Design Love. If you’re able to help fill in any of the blanks, regarding the logo designers responsible, I’d appreciate it if you left a comment.

Logo Design Love: A Guide to Creating Iconic Brand Identities, second edition

41 appreciated comments

  1. I would add TAP logo (http://www.flytap.pt) and Emirates (http://www.emirates.com).

  2. I would add Alitalia logo http://www.alitalia.it
    Designed by Landor associates (Landor self).

  3. The Aer Lingus logo does capture the irish feel very well…especially the kelly green uniforms they have been wearing for decades now! My mum used to be an air hostess for them and back then (in the 70′s) they used to basically have the women walk in , and they look at you, and pretty much say yes or no!

    Its unfortunate that they made a mess of the logo a little on their current website. The bevel on the shamrock just looks old and cheap….dont you think? I feel like they should have used some sort of white variation of the logo to make it pop more in the header….

  4. Didik

    I would like to add Garuda Indonesia logo, an international airline from Indonesia. Unfortunately, the higher resolution version of the logo is not available. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Logo_garuda_indonesia.png

    The unique thing is that the logo and the name of the airline is taken from mystic creature as mentioned in both Hinduism and Buddhism.

    Just a suggestion, what about reviewing national symbol for the next entry?

  5. Regan

    I’d like to nominate Pakistan International Airline for a corporate makeover.

    While not 100% successful, I think it’s paramount that a company review their logo & ad campaigns against other cultural standards & languages lest they unknowingly promote themselves negatively. Especially if they are an Int’l company.

    Their chosen logo is a bland PIA – which is an acronym for Pain In (the) A**.

    http://www.piac.com.pk/

    It gets better – go to their website and you’ll see headers for:

    - The PIA Experience
    - PIA Holidays
    - PIA Training
    - PIA Awards +Plus

  6. Don’t you guys notice that only Air Canada got wide spacing with there text? That makes it look kinda generous and wealthy.

    Aer Lingus is cute, and American Airlines is so American…
    I don’t like Lufthansa with the “trapped bird”, and David, I like that term :D

  7. Nice selection David. The Qantas (not Quantas) logo has been modified with new kangaroo and new font.

    The Lufthansa logo works well for me, though I loved the quip about their economy class.

  8. Inayaili, Fabio,

    Thanks for the suggestions. I’ll look at them next time around.

    Brian,

    Interesting story about the Aer Lingus recruitment process, although no surprise how image conscious air steward roles can be. I agree with you about the logo on their website. I’ve never been much of a fan of additional logo effects, and that bevel does cheapen the symbol.

    Didik,

    Thanks for the suggestions. The national symbol is one I’ll work on, and it reminds me of the ridiculous Italian identity that was created a year ago – the big green pickle.

    Hieu,

    I also like the character spacing on the Air Canada logo. It does add a little something.

    Regan,

    Have you had any PIA Experiences lately? I hope not! Pakistan International Airline deserves a special mention, and thanks for pointing it out.

    Duncan,

    Good of you to point out my inaccuracies. Much appreciated. I’ve corrected the spelling of Qantas, and will double-check the latest logo version. Thanks.

  9. cat

    What I remember most about the BA tailfins (except the fact that I liked the idea, just not the result) was how artist Damien Hirst attempted to sue BA for ‘stealing his ideas’.

    “… he had discussed spots with BA before the deal fell through and then spots had formed part of the Go adverts” …

    Kinda difficult to declare spots to be his sole idea. Especially as Go’s logo was designed around circles.

    But what I really found interesting (and the reason I’m posting) is this statement …

    “Ever since Bridget Riley sued a clothes company for putting her black and white designs on to flared trousers in the 1970s, artists have fought hard to protect their ideas from being exploited.”

    I don’t know how true that statement is (and I imagine it’s not). But it sounds good.

    ps: google the statement to read the post for yourself.

  10. I really like the Jetstar logo:

    It looks great on their tail fins

  11. PG

    Yay for airline logos! I also like airline livery design.

  12. Didik

    @David:

    I’m looking forward for your national symbols review, David. And for the Italian symbol, I’ll save my comments for it later.

    @JAVIER:

    I already take a look at the AeroMexico airlines. All Airlines logo that I’ve seen represent air superiority with bird, world, or flag blows by the wind. It’s quite rare for Airlines logo to have a man as their symbol (even though the man is pictured wearing eagle cape).

  13. Ryan Whitney

    I would love to bank at Continental Airlines.

    I would buy car parts (tires maybe?) from Qantas.

    I would fly on AA and Air Canada.

  14. I just realised- you’re using the old QANTAS logo, the new one is here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:2007_Qantas_Logo.svg

  15. Cat,

    That’s an interesting read, and the article can be found here:

    Hirst to sue BA over adverts

    The never-ending struggle for originality eh?

    Bryce,

    Thanks for keeping me right about the Qantas logo. I’ve updated the image to their latest design.

    Javier,

    I quite like the type treatment on the AeroMexico logo, but I’m not so keen on the symbol.

    Didik,

    Looking forward to your thoughts on the Italian logo.

    Ryan,

    Cheers for your opinion. I tend to agree about the Continental bank remark, and as for Qantas, it does have some similarities with the Bridgestone logo (both use striking red triangles).

  16. EC

    Have you seen Copa Airlines´ Logo? It´s a Panama based airline, part of Continental Airlines…but they have a interesting variation of the logo:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:COPA_Airlines.PNG

  17. EC,

    I’d not seen that one before, but think it’s even less effective than the main Continental Airlines one.

  18. You should take a look to Aerolineas Argentinas’ logo. That’s my country national airline, but despite of that :) I think that it’s a quite decent logo.

    Ok, I can see that there’s a restyling that get rid of the italic futura type and separate the condor… :(
    Your web is a gem, I will bookmark it right now!

  19. Jose,

    I’m glad you like the website here. Thanks.

  20. Arnab Roy

    Really interesting website, I’d be really proud if you guys allow me to showcase my work here. I did the Air India New Identity and you can see the concept here:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/abolakanto/734520785/

  21. Sameer, Arnab,

    Thanks for adding your links. It’s good to have some extra input.

  22. Hey David, a little anecdote about Ireland’s other Airline RyanAir.

    http://www.rigneygraphics.com/lunchmeat/archive/04-01/ryanair_beforeafter.jpg

    The airline gave their angel a boobjob!
    They felt she was too sexually ambiguous so they increased her breast size, and feel she’s now looking more aerodynamic than ever!

    btw: the angel is also a musical ‘harp’ which is the traditional symbol of ireland…not the stereotypical shamrock.

  23. Emily

    Singapore Airline!

    SIA

  24. Hi Colm,

    Thanks for the amusing link—which I’d not seen before.

    Emily, Akosh,

    I appreciate your suggestions. Cheers.

  25. Andrea

    There is amazingly simple concept in JAT Airways logo http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Jat_Airways_logo.svg which i believe is excellent idea. 3 dots, they represent plane windows, and red and blue colors with the white background represent flag colors of Serbia.

  26. Andrea,

    Thanks for the suggestion. I wonder if Jat Airways ever get confused with Jet Airways.

  27. JAT – Yugoslav Airlines and “Jat Airways” (2003).
    National Airlines of FR Yugoslavia and SERBIA

  28. Filip

    JAT – Jugoslovenski Aerotransport – used to be the national carrier of ex Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia, then Fedeal Rep.of Yug. and latter, of the republic of Serbia.
    Some say it is good that it kept it’s name (JAT), but, still, it represents non existing country, since it is Serbian national airlines.
    Many people find its name and logo apsurd.

  29. For the record, the Air Canada logo shown there is from 1993. The 2004 version has a new typeface but retains the stylized maple leaf (which, in 1993, was an update from the 1964 version).

  30. Hi Colin,

    Thanks for the additional info on Air Canada. Good of you, Milos and Filip to drop in.

  31. Luiz E Magalhaes

    TOP 5 :

    #1. Singapore
    #2. JAL
    #3. Continental
    #4. Alitalia
    #5. Air France

  32. I would like to see the Trans Canada Air Lines logo that says: “Fly TCA” (blue circle, white maple leaf and red TCA in centre.

  33. Danijel

    Im surprised no one has yet mentioned Croatia Airlines. I find their logo is a step away from the updated tail design. If two were merged, the separate squares would work better.

    In any case, their design motif and logo have always looked gorgeous.

  34. Bax & Bes

    Please check out Papua New Guinea’s national airline, Air Niugini’s logo

    http://www.airniugini.com.pg

    Thank you…

  35. hirbod

    i love IranAir logo: http://www.airplane-pictures.net/image39154.html

    it is mixture of a persian mystical bird(called HOMA: http://www.travelblog.org/Photos/3750597 ) & the concept of an airline…so prestigious! :D

  36. Beno

    Who are the Lunn Design Group? Who exactly designed it? I need to know more in detail, please reply.
    Thanks.


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