Birds of a feather flock together

birds perched on telephone lines

Branding a commercial airline is something I’d love to do, but by working solo I do wonder if I’ll ever get the opportunity. Regardless, there’s one design option I’d like to overlook — the bird in a circle.

Air Algerie
Air Algerie logo

Air Jamaica
Air Jamaica logo

Ariana logo

Cameroon Air
Cameroon Air logo

Condor logo

Iraqi Airways
Iraqi Airways logo

Japan Airlines (previous)
Japan Airlines logo

Lloyd Aeroe Boliviano
Lloyd Aeroe logo

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

Tame Airlines
Tame Airlines logo

Tarom Romanian Air Transport
Tarom logo

Turkish Airlines
Turkish Airlines logo

Zambia Airways
Zambia Airways logo

In fact, it’s probably wise that I steer clear of birds altogether.

Aero Mexico
Aero Mexico logo

Air Gabon
Air Gabon logo

Air Mauritius
Air Mauritius logo

Air Siam
Air Siam logo

American Airlines
Designed by Vignelli Associates, in 1967
American Airlines logo

Cathay Pacific
Cathay Pacific logo

Garuda Indonesia
Garuda Indonesia logo

Kuwait Airways
Kuwait Airways logo

Ozark Airlines
Ozark Airlines logo

Piedmont Airlines
Piedmont Airlines logo

Presidential Airways
Presidential Airways logo

Singapore Airlines
Singapore Airlines logo

Taca Airlines
Designed by Lippincott, in 2008
Taca Airlines logo

Tam Airlines
Tam Airlines logo

Trans Mediterranean Airways
Trans Mediterranean Airways logo

If you know who designed the above logos, please let me know so I can add credit.

View more airline logos on The Museum of Flight. Via @AisleOne.

Header photo courtesy of Thinkstock.

Logo Design Love, the book

64 thoughts on “Birds of a feather flock together

  1. This is quite a collection. I’ve probably never heard of about 80% of this little lot! It seems that most are quite dated in style and very dry. I think avoiding wings altogether would be necessary! Out of them all though I appreciated ‘Garuda Indonesia’ the most – at least its not in a circle!

  2. The airline from my country (Air Mauritius)’s logo is also a bird. link. I just thought it would also be a nice inclusion on this (almost) comprehensive list. ;)

  3. A bird in a circle is also something you want to avoid if you find yourself on the set of Sesame Street: Ring of Death edition.

    Nice post, and a sturdy reminder to at least take a look around before designing a logo!

  4. This is a great observation and collection of airline logos. It’s shocking to me how similar some of these look. Thanks for the warning. :)

  5. What’s wrong with the American Airlines logo? It was designed by Massimo Vignelli and has not been changed for over 40 years. And the eagle is the national bird of the US so I think that ‘bird logo’ does a great job of representing an ‘american airline’. (Side note: watch his interview in the documentary Helvetica).

  6. Oh my god, Air Gabon is amazing. It looks like it was designed by Jim Henson! Personally I’ve always been a fan of the Qantas logo. Nice placement on the tailfin, and it’s not a bloody bird.

  7. Making a logo for airlines without using a plane: a bird. Haha. It seems to be the first thing that comes to mind.
    Good post.

  8. I wonder how many agencies convinced the airlines to go with these particular logo because marketing research encouraged the message the logo would send to consumers….

    I could just explode with laughter!

  9. Two big omissions so far:

    Cathay Pacific (wing/feather only)

    Singapore Airlines

  10. Yeah the bird is well overused, but the bird has always been the icon for flight, even going back hundreds of years.

    The designers have obviously opted to use global iconography which I personally think can be justified – even if it is a tad boring for designers to look at.

    PS: First post from a long-time lurker. Great blog right here, and a lot of nice work on your main site too.



  11. I opened a can of worms with this one (the birds will be happy).

    Thanks a lot for the additional suggestions, and Jonny, great of you to leave your first comment. I see you’ve just launched your own blog. I hope that works out well for you.

  12. Check what Landor designed for my country’s airline:

    It sure beats everyone else on number of birds! There is a reason though: Uruguay means “river of the coloured birds” in guarani. So there you have, our planes have coloured birds on them.
    (Other translations propose “river of the snails”, but Landor didn’t give them much credit).

    And a hat tip to Escher, too.

    Great site David!

  13. I like Garuda Indonesia both; the concept, and execution. clean and simple. not because i’m an Indonesian. ;)

    Thk u David. Good post as usual.

  14. Wow, solidly bummed here, I just happen to be doing an aeronautics logo for a client who specifically asked for a bird as a mascot… and also remarked they LIKE simple circular logos a LOT.

    So how do you keep your energy and will to invest when you are met with this kind of done-to-death challenge?

  15. Out of 154 airline logos I found on this page ( only 48 of them have circles. That’s only about 31%, but that thirty percent is higher than any other major geometric shape used as a unifying design element.

    I like circles. I may use a circle for the logo I’m redesigning right now.

    What about the companies that do not have circle-bird logos?
    Virgin, Southwest, JetBlue, Continental, Delta, US Airways
    Not all their logos are that great. They are just really memorable because of advertising…

  16. There’s a perfectly good reason why so many airlines use a bird as the basis for their logos – because it is appropriate.

    Kind of like using a heart in a logo wishing to express affection for something.

    As someone once said, ‘It ain’t what you do, it’s the way that you do it’. While I like some more than others, in spite of what they have in common, with a few exceptions, they all look pretty unique.

  17. One thing for sure, Landor made the Garuda Indonesia, and using the blue gradient from the depth of the ocean, simply represent Indonesia as an archipelago nation.

  18. When I designed the Japan Air Lines logo in 1958, I wanted it to look Japanese above all else, so I chose the from an antique samurai family crest book. The red we labelled Tori red which is a happy colour in Japan. Of course, it was modified from the original for functionality. I think it stands up very well and I am quite pleased that JAL is reintroducing it.

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