Saturday, 22 January 2011

Feeling comfortable

Japan Airlines, Japan's flag carrier airline, filed for bankruptcy-protection last year and is being supported by a government fund while it restructures. The airline had rebranded from 2002, removing its famous stylised flying-crane image and going for the solid JAL type and a swoosh. That rebranding always looked a bit clunky to me – does that twisted bar look like it could fly? It looks way too iron bar-ish to me to suggest flight. Well, as part of the restructuring, less that 10 years later, the old brand is back.

Tough call: they must cut costs and gain customers, and have (probably correctly, I'd say) judged that the old logo, even with  or because of – its somewhat old-fashioned feel, gives some brand familiarity and favourable associations in customers' minds. I guess there was a balance to strike between the cost of repainting all the planes and slowly rolling out all stationery and signage etc and regaining that foothold of favourable recognition. I guess I'd say the choice is right in the circumstances, which don't financially favour risking all on a new identity. JAL themselves are rolling out the positivity, calling it a "new" logo and symbolising a "fresh start".

One Japanese Facebook friend has already celebrated the logo's return and had a comment from a friend thinking of flying with JAL again. Will enough people feel the same?

Alternatively, one could ask: is going backward ever really a good decision? I'm trying to think of others that have rebranded only to revert back…

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