Airline Identity

Aviation Museum & Library

Nov 15, 2013 - Aug 17, 2014

Airline Identity

“What’s in a name?,” Shakespeare asked. If it were the name of a company, then the answer would be, quite a lot. Corporate identity is conveyed first and foremost by the company’s name with which it is doing business. A company name ascribes a title to the business entity, and it is the building block upon which the brand is projected into the market place.

The importance of corporate identity design, or brand science, has always been particularly acute in the commercial aviation industry. In general, major airlines utilize the same equipment—aircraft—and many fly to the same destinations. Therefore, while airlines do position themselves in different market categories, such as business versus economy or “low cost,” their core product would be virtually indistinguishable from each other if not for the differentiation of their corporate identity.

The examples of airline wall signs presented in this exhibition, and the use of these identities on aircraft liveries and miscellaneous merchandising items, such as flight bags, trace the use of company names and wordmarks in the airline industry from the 1930s to contemporary times. Today, with the introduction of “common use” ticketing areas at airports, where electronically displayed signage can be changed with the flick of a switch, these types of physical walls signs are becoming a thing of the past. 

©2013 by the San Francisco Airport Commission. All rights reserved.