Friday, January 18, 2013

Will a New Brand Reboot Be Enough for American Airlines?

American Airlines announced yesterday that it was embarking on a journey to build a new airline, starting with a reboot of their brand. Branding is a crucial element in the flying experience. A good brand create a cohesive, high class feeling from start to finish. A weak brand leaves you rolling your eyes. Lufthansa is one of the best examples of a consistent and coherent brand out there today: The fonts are clean and consistent. The colors are distinct from other brands and complementary. The logo evokes the history of the airline, while everything else is modern and hints at German efficiency. A poor brand makes the airline feel and look cheaper than it is. American Airlines suffered from a bit of a stodgy image that partially is the result of branding that hasn't changed much in decades (and a livery that shows every ding, panel, and scrape on the bare aluminum skin of their often older MD-80 planes).

The old livery: Bare aluminum, red, white, & blue. Photo: BriYYZ
They are aiming to put all that behind them with a new look, and yesterday it went live as a vision for where they want to take the airline. The airline's website has gone through an overdue redesign and looks modern and usable. That is a step forward compared to what it used to look like.  Checking a sample fare showed a simplified, straightforward interface for buying trips. The makeover hasn't reached every corner of the website, but the main page and the travel planning sections are more important.

On the new page, the new brand is on display: The classic eagle at the top of this post has been swapped out for for their new logo and "flight symbol", as seen below. This seems like a bit of a flop: The font reminds me of the default font Calibri in Microsoft Word and the logo doesn't sit quite right. The "eagle" in it is a little too abstract and from a distance it resembles a waving French flag. In fact, the logo does bare a passing resemblance to Air France's "flight symbol".

The other major change announced yesterday is the change of livery. The flying tin cans will be replaced by a fleet of red, white, and blue. At a recent event, they had a 737 dressed up in the new paint scheme. Despite the gleam of the CGI render below, it looks like the real planes will be getting a white base coat. Overall, it is fairly simple, except for the distinctive American tail. We will have to see what they look like on the tarmac when these start rolling out in force. Regardless of what the planes look like, the real question will be whether management can change course and become a consistently profitable and attractive airline.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Jorge Selaron: 1947-2013

Today, marks the end of the "mad and singular dream" of Jorge Selaron. He was found dead on the steps that he created in Rio de Janerio on January 10, 2013. According to Brazilian reports, the artist may have been suffering from depression following a falling out between himself and a former colleague. In recent interviews, he mentioned receiving threats from the colleague and a conflict between them over proceeds from the sale of his paintings. Selaron sold paintings to support himself and continue work on the staircase. In reports, neighbors have suggested that the artist may have ended his own life, but at this time the police are not ruling out any possibilities.

His work on the staircase has been ongoing for more than 20 years, and this brings a sad end to the work that has helped transform the Lapa neighborhood. Here is the photo that I took of him while here

Jorge Selarón, creator and artist behind the Escadaria Selarón from September 16th, 2012. 

From the National Post's Article:
The candy-colored steps of a staircase in Rio’s bohemian neighborhood of Lapa were the life work of Chilean artist Jorge Selaron, and a symbol of his adopted city. On this gray, rainy Thursday, they became his memorial.
The painter who turned the 215 steps into a kaleidoscope of brightly hued tiles from all over the world, transforming a dingy, urine-scented alley and stairs into a rambunctious “tribute to the Brazilian people,” was found dead on the very staircase.
Rio de Janeiro police found his body front of his house, one of the humble colonials that face the staircase as it ascends into the St. Teresa Convent above. Visitors dropped flowers and tried to light candles in the blustery weather on his doorstep.
Investigators would not disclose the cause of death but are not discarding murder. Calls for additional comment from police were not promptly returned.
On YouTube, there is also three part a documentary of his life:
 Also: Part 2 & Part 3 of the documentary.

[via National Post]
[via iG]
[via Jornal do Brazil]
[via La Razon]

After the break, more photos from the staircase. You can read my original post on the staircase here: The Sights of Rio de Janerio Part 2

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

This has been an exciting year. I visited South America for the first time and spent more time exploring destinations closer to home, including Chicago, Los Angeles, Portland, and even some of our local destinations here in Seattle. I am looking forward to 2013, where my imagination is starting to think up my next journeys. A simple road trip to Las Vegas? A visit to Iceland and Sweden? Perhaps around the world by train? Anything is possible.

This year has also seen a big change with this blog. I started the year with about about 2,000 visitors a month (people just like you) and today it is more than quadruple that. This is fantastic and I want to make sure that 2013 has more for you on the blog here. More guides. More how-to's. More travel problem solving and tips. More solutions to your travel pains. But, before I can do that, I need some help figuring out what you are interested in.

I have a quick reader survey that I just put up here. Please take a minute to fill it out so I can get to know you better and start writing guides that directly relate to what you are interested in!

Thanks for reading and Happy New Year!