It has been more than a quarter century since Alaska Airlines has changed its look in any way, so it was a big deal for passengers, personnel and other stakeholders when the 1,800-employee organization this week unveiled its new livery and visual identity.
The visual changes are the culmination of a number of cabin enhancements the carrier has made in the past year, which include free entertainment, premium just-released movies, a revamped onboard menu and seatback power.
The biggest change is probably in the brand’s iconic Eskimo, which has been part of Alaska Air’s look since 1972. The figure’s profile has been modernized and new colors have been added to his parka trim, including “tropical green” to represent that the airline flies to such places as Hawaii and Costa Rica.
In the past five years, the brand has added 90 new markets and 26 new cities. According to USA Today, the Eskimo almost disappeared in 1988 to be replaced by a mountain scene but Alaskans objected.
“Our company has a unique personality and a vibrant spirit that our Eskimo has personified for almost half a century,” stated Alaska Airlines CEO Brad Tilden. “We believe our refreshed look reflects the warm relationships our employees have built with our customers, and makes us stand out in a compelling and consistent way as we expand into new markets, build loyalty and attract new customers.”
— Alaska Airlines (@AlaskaAir) January 25, 2016
“Our goal in modernizing our Eskimo was to optimize his facial expression so it was clear to our newer customers that he represents warmth and kindness,” added Sangita Woerner, the airline’s vice president of marketing. “It was critically important that we approached his redesign with sensitivity, which is why we sought and received the input of Alaska native leaders from the Arctic region and across Alaska.”
“Our brand is our reputation and who we are as a company. The logo and identity, those are the outward expression of our strong commitment to our customers,” she added.
The new visual identity is not only evident on its planes but on its website and digital channels, in-flight magazine, marketing materials and in the airport, where 41 of the airline’s gates at Tacoma-Washington Airport already sport the new look.
The airline isn’t just changing everything all at once, though. “We’ve taken a cost-conscious approach to rolling out the updates,” Woerner noted. “In terms of changing the liveries, we plan to repaint planes when they are scheduled. It will likely take three to four years to complete this refreshed brand roll-out.”