This Is Your Captain Speaking

American Airlines responds to the planeload of critics who don’t like its new paint job

In the wake of Adweek’s story on the sour reception to American Airlines’ new logo and livery, a spokesperson for the carrier, Mary Sanderson, made herself available to address some of the louder protests. Adweek spoke to Sanderson about the redesigned logo and the idea behind the change. 

Adweek: Can you give us some context as to why American Airlines decided to redesign the look of its fleet in the first place? In other words, why now?

Sanderson: Since American’s transformational work to develop a fresh, new brand with customers at the center began almost two years ago, the airline has steadfastly been implementing key changes in order to update the airline—building anticipation for a time when the outside of our aircraft would reflect the progress we’ve been making on the inside and throughout the other areas of the customer journey. Last week’s unveiling allows AA to stay on track for entry into service of our two new 777-300ERs, which are set to fly their inaugural flights in a few weeks, while avoiding disruption to the delivery schedule of the nearly 60 aircraft to be delivered in 2013. American simply couldn’t put it off any longer without disrupting our schedule.

As you know, and as the story related, critics have pointed out that American Airlines has bigger problems to address at the moment—specifically, the possible merger with USAirways—and that labor has made many concessions to keep AA flying. A new logo design, these individuals say, seems like anything but a priority. Can you address that?

The new look, including our new fleet, is a strategic investment that is needed to improve our customers’ overall experience, create a better work environment for our people and grow market share in an intensely competitive industry. In addition, American’s people were involved in creating the new look. We started internally, looking carefully at our company’s history and talking with them. We interviewed leaders and customers, held focus groups and online forums with our team members and had our people review and provide input on the new look.

There are many people who’ve pointed out that there was nothing wrong with the old logo—and, in fact, it’s clear that quite a few people really liked it. The essence of their argument is that changing the look of the planes simply wasn’t necessary. What would you say to them?

As one of a few truly iconic American brands, we take great care in updating our new look with great focus and respect to our name, American. The new look reflects the spirit and passion of our people, our proud heritage and the colors and symbols people have come to associate with American Airlines—all of which are unique to American. By creating a bold symbol of our origin and our name combined with our multitude of other efforts to update our airline, American will be able to attract, retain and grow our customer base.