A notification for the Google Play store about Southwest's mobile app being updated was my first hint that Southwest's brand identity has gone a much-needed refresh, and is only the third time in 43 years that it's changed the livery of its planes.
As Brand New points out, the former logo was actually just a Southwest airplane sitting over the Southwest logo type in boring black Helvetica. The new one is a word mark that is more stylized than before but still pretty simple, along with a heart containing diagonal stripes of Southwest's colors. This really brings their "LUV" motif right to the forefront, where it's been missing, and is a great change.
I was concerned when I saw the new wordmark that the type would be too simplistic at the large scale used on a plane, but it actually works very well. It's treated almost as a supergraphic, and subtleties of a more nuanced typeface would have been lost amongst the fuselage windows. The tail "flame" is very dramatic and will be easy to identify even from a long way off.
In fact, my favorite part of the whole rebranding is the heart logo on the belly of the planes. Southwest planes have always been easy to spot from the ground, and this will make them even more so. Mostly you see liveries paying attention to what the planes will look like on the tarmac, so it's great to see Southwest acknowledging the "worm's eye" view.
Here's a neat video showing the process of stripping off an old livery and applying the new one.
A brand refresh website has been launched, with the requisite vertical scroll animations: Southwest Heart