Akshit Pushkarna and Yash Bhatia

Air India's logo makeover: Design experts dissect the transformation

Design experts have a mixed take on ‘The Vista’, the airline's new logo.

Since taking over India’s oldest airline, Air India, the Tata Group has actively been working on revamping its image. The initial phase of this process, labeled Vihaan.AI, saw Tata letting go of the iconic mascot of Air India, the Maharaja.

The company recently unveiled a new logo and livery for the airline. The logo, named ‘The Vista’, features a palette of deep red, aubergine, and gold highlights. The airline stated that the new logo "captures the essence of bold new India, marking a milestone in its Vihaan.AI transformation."

During the rebranding, one of the officials mentioned that the new Air India logo is inspired by the winds aboard all Air India flights that have been a part of the airline's journey from day one. The new identity has been created by IPG’s Futurebrand, and the films have been conceptualised by McCann Worldgroup.

Another popular company, Twitter, embarked on a similar journey of changing their logo. The older logo for Air India, featuring a tail fin with the sun inscribed in the middle, had become synonymous with the airline over the years. Similarly, Twitter’s blue bird logo had become synonymous with the platform, but it was replaced with a plain ‘X’.

Kurnal Rawat, Creative Director at Landor & Fitch, shared thoughts on Twitter’s logo change with afaqs!, opining that many companies undertaking logo replacement exercises are taking a similar route.

This route involves redesigning the logo in a brand-neutral and simplified fashion, eliminating colors and gradient components from the design.

Something similar can be observed in the design of Air India’s new logo. The new logo sees the airline completely removing the tail fin, replacing it with a simple golden arrow.

The company stated that 'Vista' is inspired by the peak of the gold window frame, and the arrow signifies "limitless possibilities, progressiveness, and the airline's bold new outlook."

Moreover, the old logo featured ‘Air India’ text in Hindi, which has been removed from the new logo. This further simplifies the design, aligning with the group’s vision to turn the airline into a “world-class airline”.

The question that arises with the logo change is: Will it be able to build as strong a brand recall as the older logo commanded?

Netizens stand divided on the appeal of the new logo. afaqs! reached out to some notable design experts to get their take on the new logo’s design.

Shekhar Badve
Founder and director, Lokus Design

Air India's logo makeover: Design experts dissect the transformation

My first reaction was that this was a much-needed change, but not in this way. The identity change for such a mega brand could have been much more in sync with the times, the flyer profile, and evolved tastes. The logotype is fat, bulky, and does not communicate agility or lightness.

These have been some problems that Air India has been plagued with. I found the arching of the letters unnecessary and it could have been avoided to make it look smarter.

The red color could have also been fresher. It’s an aviation business brand, not a heavy machinery brand. Sharpness and contemporariness are totally missing. It is counter-communicating!

The airline doesn’t only stand for the arches if legacy or heritage had to be the starting point. Red, gold, and purple evoke luxury, but that's not the only proposition. A more modern version was expected. A cleaner, leaner, greener, and contemporary identity with a tinge of heritage and legacy could have been the direction.

Nothing really stands out in the identity. There isn’t a strong visual element that will evoke recall. The elements, as seen on the aircraft markings, also evoke the past. This was the chance to erase all the erstwhile perceptions and negative imagery Air India carried and unfortunately, it may carry now.

Arushi Kulkarni
Design Director, NH1 Design

Air India's logo makeover: Design experts dissect the transformation

The Air India logo is one shared by the collective subconscious of generations of Indians. The new logo is a stark departure. At first glance, one notices a synergy between Tata group owned Vistara and the new Air India logo - with both now sharing aubergine and gold as part of their Brand colors. 

This rebrand does a good job of achieving a middle ground between a complete overhaul and a brand refresh. The legacy of Air India is maintained via the red color. The chakra can be seen in the brand patterns.

The logotype is modern and lends character to the overall identity. A custom Air India Sans typeface sounds promising. 

While the concept of Air India being a window to possibilities, as demonstrated in the brand film, is nice - there is a disconnect in the logo symbol. Tucked at the top right of the logotype, it appears to be an arrow rather than a 'vista' and lacks ownability.

On observing popular global airlines, each has a distinct symbolism - British Airways embraces the Union Jack, Emirates has the Arabic script, South African Airways uses colorful flag symbolism, American Airlines uses the red, white, blue with the eagle.

This feels like a missed opportunity for Air India to truly amalgamate India in its design language - from the tri-color to the intricate art styles.

Beyond the logo, it'll be interesting to see how India is represented through Brand behaviors, such as the uniforms, aircraft interiors and service. How will Air India introduce us to the world?

Shashwat Das
Founder and Director, Almond Branding-Brand Strategy+Design 

Air India's logo makeover: Design experts dissect the transformation

The new logo and livery for Air India exude a perfect blend of modernity and heritage. The sleek golden window element and vibrant color palette that now includes a touch of purple shade, borrowed from Vistara, signifies a fresh chapter for the airline.

The choice of typography, the placement of frames on underbelly, wing tips and tailpin and the overall design language resonates well with the airline's legacy while projecting a fresh and contemporary image. 

While we will miss the iconic Maharaja mascot, whose presence has evolved over time, I believe the reduced emphasis aligns with the portrayal of a resurgent India – one that upholds its renowned hospitality yet exudes confidence and stature on the global stage.

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