BUSINESS OF BRANDS. Lufthansa spruces up for a new world


February 22, 2018

A slimmer crane and a darker shade of blue are major changes in brand identity

Written By

There is soon going to be a different ‘crane’ in the skies. The over-100-year-old flying bird on the tail that is perhaps the most familiar feature of German airline Lufthansa will still be in the airline’s colours though it will now be slimmer and fitter.

While it is retaining tradition by keeping the crane and its yellow-and-blue colour scheme, Lufthansa is changing just about everything else associated with the airline and the Group to give it a contemporary look.

The series of changes announced in Frankfurt and Munich earlier this month — unveiling for the Indian market is slated for later this year — also includes a change in the airline’s livery after 30 years. According to the airline, it did intensive preliminary studies that involved numerous experts and worked on 800 designs and colours developed in its own labs before settling on a darker shade of blue which will now become the colour of its aircraft. Blue provides the airline reliability, clarity and value. This darker blue will also become the Group’s predominant colour, complemented by yellow. Studies showed the airline that it should retain those colours. The Group also gets a new logo which no longer bears the crane, and is written completely in capital letters.

The aircraft’s interiors will have a modern look and the crew will get new uniforms, often with yellow accessories. The tableware, amenity kits, blankets and pillow cases will also have a new design. The company maintains that about 160 million items will be changed over the next two years. The airline plans to use yellow on all its boarding passes and at all Lufthansa counters at airports.

To go with its new look, Lufthansa has also launched a new campaign, #SayYesToTheWorld, which questions familiar and routine ways of thinking.

According to the airline all these changes have been done to make the over 100-year-old airline more relevant in this day and age of digitisation and changing customer expectations. That is why it has also developed its own typeface, which is easier to read on mobile devices and smart watches. Says an industry watcher with over three decades of experience in heading a global airline in India and abroad, “It is a slight modification of a well-established brand signage. Such a thing has been successfully done by Mercedes, Volkswagen and other world-class brands. The timing is right for Lufthansa since the changes are going along with strategy changes for the airline group.”

Opinions on whether the brand relaunch will help Lufthansa connect with the new, digitised world, however, are divided. Some like Jagdeep Kapoor, Managing Director, Samsika Marketing think the changes are contemporary and will help the airline connect with the new-age flyers, creating another customer segment. “I think it is a process of moving from dated to updated and skipping the trap of being outdated.” On prospects for the Indian market, he says, “The aspirational segment will definitely be attracted, and the age level of that has come down by at least 10 years. What people could achieve at the age of 35-40 they are now achieving at 22 to 28 years. They will be attracted by this contemporary brand identity and I am sure it will do well for its top and bottom line.”

Harish Bijoor, brand strategist and Founder, Harish Bijoor Consults Inc, finds the makeover contemporary and the crane more futuristic, but is disappointed by the change in the blue. “It makes the airline look classier, for sure. However, the brightness gets lost, yellow offered it that brightness. Blue is a cold colour if you really look at it. In an airline, cold is not good, warm is excellent. For an airline that spent decades cooking up its warmth with yellow, there seems to be death in the blue. It is more joining the crowd than standing out from the crowd and that is a worry for me. Whenever you rebrand you try and stand apart and not join the rest. Blue is a no-brainer,” he says.

However, Devangshu Dutta, Chief Executive, Third Eyesight looks at the revamp as more an internal drive. Pointing out that any company which undertakes a revamp has to communicate the revamp widely not only externally but also internally, Dutta says that if internal changes in terms of process are not made then it is nothing more than cosmetic changes. Says he, “The identity changing is not enough. There has to be a significant shift in the entire customer experience. Especially with the digital experience, you have to make sure that it is also absolutely up to date.”