Southwest Airlines Gets a Much-Needed Brand Refresh

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.

With so much of Southwest’s focus firmly set on the future, it was a natural time to look at our visual identity,” says Bob Jordan, Southwest’s Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer. The task given to Lippincott, a brand strategy and design consultancy, was monumental: distill more than 40 years into one modern, impactful look that represents the exciting future of a one-of-a-kind airline.

“The job wasn’t to change who we are,” says Kevin Krone, Southwest’s Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer. “We already know who we are. The job was to keep the elements of Southwest that our Employees and Customers love and to bring them to the forefront, modernizing them for our future growth.”

“A lot of it was simplifying: getting back to what is true to our core,” Krone says. “We had to pare down until we got to something that was simple, clear, and fresh, yet still reflected our personality.

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