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In Hue’s summer issue (coming out very soon!), John Malozzi, Advertising Design ’96, explained how he, along with his colleagues at FutureBrand, developed American Airlines’ new logo and brand identity. Hue is excited about the new logo, a beakish abstraction penetrating a diagonal line.

American Airlines’ new logo.

But why is it a good logo? Hue turned to Malozzi’s favorite FIT teacher, Eli Kince, associate professor of Communication Design, to talk about American’s logos over the years. Here’s what he said.

“Fine artists were the original graphic designers. They used to call them commercial artists. When logos first came out, they were literal imagery of products that appeared on buildings and on packaging. American’s first logos were examples of commercial art.

American Airlines’ early, quite literal, logos.

“By 1968, the AA logo had equity. It takes time to build familiarity like this, to convince people to believe in and trust your company. When they get familiar with your logo,  you can make it simpler and more abstract. In Massimo Vignelli’s successful 1968 logo, the ‘AA’ was structurally sound, monolithic, beautiful. The blocky shape of the ‘A’s communicated solidity, dependability, safety, and security. Graphically, we see triangles as dangerous, round shapes as warm and fuzzy, blocks as secure. Of course, people want to fly on a solid airline.

The highly recognizable 1968 American Airlines logo by Massimo Vignelli.

“In the computer age, consumers are ready for even more abstraction in logo design. A modern logo isn’t a combination of colors, it’s a combination of energy. You use color and lines to create vibrations. It’s like a relationship between people: after we get to know each other, the energy of who we are begins to show up. After a while we don’t even see each other, and we know each other by energy or spirit. The abstractness of the eagle form coming out of this vertical line, it says direction, it says this airline is going against the grain.”



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