American Airlines: Safety
I still remember my first visit to Houston. I was five years old and traveling to see my cousin, now coworker, Margaret. Those were the only trips I took alone. I remember meeting an American Airlines flight attendant, who walked me onto the plane and told me that she would be around for anything I needed. She gave me a wing pin to wear. Although those wings are just a brand element, to me, they mean that American Airlines will keep me safe.
Brands that are built on the company vision resonate best with consumers. Safety is one of many values that American Airlines runs on. However, it only resonated with me because I saw it in action. So when I hear their brand promises, “The safety of our customers and our employees is the foundation of all we do,” I believe them. American Airlines has won my trust. In this type of honest branding, the choices in regards to employees, product quality, and manufacturing tactics, match the visual language.
My challenge as a designer is finding out how to create a brand experience that resonates with its consumers. I want their experience to be echoed back to them in the visuals. The best way to build brand loyalty is by creating an honest brand. Open lines of communication between designers and leaders of the company are essential to designing honestly.
Good brands start from the inside out. The leaders create the vision. The vision creates the visual language. And the visual language turns into a system that is unified enough to be recognized as a cohesive brand. In this way, every communication of the brand is unified, from the way the CEO talks about the company, to the visual language, to the customer service.
Adobe is a great example of a consistent brand experience. We’re currently looking into new solutions to manage our Adobe Creative Cloud solutions at Criterion.B. As we were talking about the price of the software, I made an observation, “I couldn’t do my job without Adobe!” That’s a pretty incredible statement. The livelihood of designers around the world depends on one company. And, Adobe has a logo that works with their values. The A breaks the box. It feels limitless.
Adobe has taken their brand statement, to “empower everyone … to bring digital creations to life,” and crafted a visual language around it. Their Instagram features versions of their logo created by artists and designers. Lights hung in the shape of their logo. Tape strung across the room that forms the logo from the right perspective. A fish tank made out of the logo. The vision of the company works through designers. But in Adobe’s case, they are allowing designers to be a wider audience. This concept is at the core of their company — inspiring creativity in as many people as possible.
American Airlines and Adobe are just two examples of brands that have visual identities which flow from their company purposes. The designers’ job is not to create the company vision. Rather, it’s to tap into the lifeblood of the company and create a visual language that expresses it. That’s the type of brand experience that consumers feel passionate about.