Responses by Libby DeLana, cofounder/creative director, Mechanica, Graceann Bennett, founder/chief strategist, Playbook Studio and Steve Harfst, chief executive officer, Eastern Airlines
Background: Our goal was to resurrect one of the oldest brands in aviation and reimagine it for an entirely new audience. We wanted to tap into the brand value of Eastern Airlines, knowing that most global audiences would have never heard of the brand. We wanted to open up underserved markets around the globe with low cost, direct flights, so more people can explore and experience the awe and wonder of air travel.
Reasoning: The solution was to tap into our “Explorer” roots and the spirit of adventure of air travel in 1925 when the original Eastern took flight. We also wanted these global citizens to feel like this was as much their airline as it is an American airline. We spent a lot of time working on a design system that had universal iconography as well as a map icon for each place we fly. We spent a lot of time talking to the local crews. They gave us perspectives on their market and helped us keep Eastern Airlines relevant for their markets and cultures.
Challenges: When we decided to bring back the Eastern brand, we knew a lot of the industry would be watching us closely. There are strong feelings about the Eastern brand name and a desire to respect the past. But to stand out and be relevant today, we wanted to be more adventurous in our interpretation of the brand. We are also building a much different airline, with new routes and local audiences, and needed to make sure that it focused on where we are headed and not where we’ve been.
Favorite details: The partnership with Playbook Studio’s strategic work, and how that beautifully translated to the design. Visually, the team did an incredible job of using the “explorer” archetype as our muse and embracing the idea of exploration and moving from the original logo “the bird” icon to “birds eye view,” inspired by the topographic maps of the locations that Eastern now flies. The notion of creating a unique logo for each location also generated a great deal of local pride with the crew as the flights are staffed with people from the destination.
Visual influences: The colors of the sea, sky and sun, and how those were also the historic colors of the original Eastern Airlines. Also, the diversity and vibrancy of the historic advertising posters.
Anything new: We learned a lot about these new global citizens and travelers and how only 20 percent of the world’s population has ever stepped on an airplane, according to a National Geographic study. It was great to do research with the local crews and get to know their cultures through their lens. Also, it is incredible to learn about how much needs to be done behind the scenes to start an airline. Working with chief executive officer Steve Harfst was also amazing, as he trusted us to do our job, as he was busy doing what he needed to do to have this airline take flight.