Global branding and design firm Hornall Anderson has partnered with Seattle-based Alaska Airlines to help turn the locally admired and fast-expanding company into a nationally visible and relevant brand. For more than 80 years, Alaska Airlines has built a loyal following by combining outstanding performance with strong customer service.
To update the brand, the designers injected more warmth, energy and confidence into the brand including a refresh of the “smiling Eskimo” — a symbol used for four decades — to provide a more energetic aura that reflects the airline’s “positive outlook and passion for brightening people’s journeys.” A bold wordmark, says Creative Director David Bates, “confidently signs off everything they do with the trusted Alaska name.” The design firm also worked with the client to redesign the airplane livery and cabin interiors, inflight collateral and food and beverage packaging, airport signage, website and mobile app, updates to the uniforms, and a short film to investigate the meaning behind the face on the tail of their planes.
In an interesting sign of the times, an advertising campaign to reintroduce the brand — “Meet our Eskimo” — met controversy on social media: some complained of racial insensitivity in use of the term “our Eskimo” while others thanked the airline for continuing to celebrate Eskimo culture. The airline immediately changed the headline to the more neutral “Meet the Eskimo.”