Whenever I board a plane, I always check the logo on the tail fin, and I ask myself: who designed it and what is the story behind it. That’s why I decided to write an article about the best airline logos and their meaning.
Logos from the aviation industry have a lot of design similarities. For example, they often use colors from the company’s origins, have a country’s symbol on them, or replicate flying, moving, and aviation.
These are the airline logos you find more about in this article:
- American Airlines
- Air Serbia
- Alaska Airlines
- Gulf Air
- Qatar Airways
- Air France
- Austrian Airlines
- Delta Air
Now, my fellow design and chemtrail lovers, let’s get off the ground and discover which are the best airline logos out there.
1. American Airlines Brand Identity Design
The American Airlines logo is my favorite on the list. I’m a huge fan of negative space logos, so I might be a bit biased on this one
The latest version of the logo was designed in 2013 by FutureBrand. It is a minimalistic design that moves away from the traditional eagle-looking logo that has been in the AA brand from the beginning. Despite the minimalistic design, the logo is packed with different symbolism.
One of the first things you notice when looking at the logo is the eagle’s head that cuts into the background, creating a negative space. Not only that, the eagle is a national symbol of the United States, and it was, as I said, the emblem of the AA fleet from the beginning.
Not only does the shape represent an eagle, but it also forms another US symbol – a star.
Next, we will look at the meaning of the angled line.
The first one that comes to mind is the symbolism of the plane’s tail fin. If we observe it more, we can connect the line’s tilt to the side part of letter A.
Furthermore, the line could symbolize the runway or the contrail made by the airplane when flying. I like all of the colors used in the logo, even though nowadays we’ve moved towards the flat design style. However, the logo was created in 2013, where the trend was using shades.
The modern look of the emblem is enhanced by using a sans serif font.
2. Air Serbia Story Behind The Logo
The logotype is a modern representation of a Serbian national symbol, the double-headed eagle. In this design, it looks really sleek.
Besides its professional representation, I also like the story of how a graphic design student got to redesign the logo. After putting her logo concept on Behance, the Air Serbia representatives contacted her to finish up the logo.
Be sure to check out Tamara Maksimovic and the whole story.
A quick tip: if you don’t already have your portfolio set up, be sure to do it as soon as possible.
One thing that made my heart sing when I saw the logo was the lines connecting the two eagle heads. They could symbolize different connections, different destinations where Air Serbia flies to. But the original inspiration for the lines came from the Prizren Manuscript of the Dušan’s Code.
The typography used in the design is a mix of different cases. Word Air written with lowercase letters gives an airy feeling. In contrast, the word Serbia is written with uppercase letters to communicate the nation’s pride.
Both words “Air” and “Serbia” are in written form, divided by a space. However, the designers didn’t want to use empty space to divide them. So they have written it in two different letter cases, which essentially separates the two words while they remain written together.
The detail of the brand’s typography I like the most is how the line cuts letter A and continues into letter I. It could symbolize a plane taking off. Besides that, I should not forget to mention the detail where the letter “r” is chopped with the shape of the S and visually creates a path.
3. Alaska Airlines Logo Perfected With Illustration
I really like the Alaska Airlines logo, which features the iconic Inuit that has visually enriched the wing since 1972.
The latest redesign was made by Hornall Anderson in 2016. The airline changed the logo’s typography to be more professional-looking and made the Inuit friendlier.
Taking a more detailed inspection of the Inuit, we can see different colors of the coat. These colors represent the airline destinations, such as Hawaii, Mexico, and Costa Rica.
This logo is another example of tilted typography representing movement. The whole motion concept is enhanced by the A’s crossbar position.
Also, the font’s shape could symbolize Pana, a snow knife that Inuits used for igloo making. Pana is also used for snow writing, which reflects the typography style.
The lettering color is a rich blue that gives the feeling of coldness. Besides that, it connects the origin of the company.
4. Gulf Air And Its Powerful Symbol
The company first put the falcon as its logo in 1993 and has continued to use it as a symbol on Gulf Air’s aircraft fleet.
The first time I saw this falcon logo, I immediately got the sense of its mightiness. It can also be seen as a symbol of courage, perseverance, and freedom. Combining all of these things together reflects the company’s values.
The designer Martijn Rijven represented the brand ethics by putting the bird’s shape in three-dimensional space. The whole form was enhanced with thin lines on the bird’s feathers, which also softened its appearance.
Martijn used the striped pattern on the symbol, but he also put it on the font. In this way, he gave depth to the typography and achieved consistent design language from symbol to typography.
The sophisticated gold and blue color scheme selected for the logo brings the high-quality nature of the brand to life while also adding a touch of royal perception to it.
You can also check Martijn Rijven’s design process from start to finish here.
5. Qatar Airways Using National Animal In Logo
In this article, you can discover a lot of different airlines that include their national colors in branding. In the following case, we will explore an airline that has used a national animal as a logotype symbol.
When you see the Qatar logo, the first thing that flashes in your eyes is an elegant animal. It’s an Arabian oryx, the national animal of Qatar.
But the oryx is not the only thing associated with representing this Middle Eastern country. The logo’s colors can also be found in Qatar’s flag – purple and red. The shape of the flag’s triangles can also serve as a design inspiration.
I would say that the triangular shapes from the flag were also an inspiration for the overall design. If you stretch a triangular shape, you will get a form the oryx is designed.
Like other brands, Qatar Airways also wanted to portray motion, and the horizontal lines symbolize this. Like so many other times mentioned in the article, they could also illustrate contrails.
The circular symbol form could also represent the sky or sun. This is another element related to the aviation industry.
The symbol is boosted with typography that also carries the colors of Qatar. Besides that, if we zoom in, the letters are indented like triangle shapes in the flag.
6. KLM Airline Logo Meaning
When you land at any European airport, you’ll probably see one of KLM’s fleet. It’s a brand with a long tradition dating back to 1919.
It’s not one of the most aesthetically appealing logos on this list. Still, if you put together different logos from this industry, this one will definitely stand out.
The similarity between the 1961 logo and the current logo can be found in the design when Henri Kay Henrion introduced the four-circle crown and the horizontal line for the first time. In 1971, the logo was stripped of its multiple-line background.
The four-circled crown could represent plane engines or windows, and the horizontal line could portray the runway or contrail.
The whole logo is colored in Pacific Blue, first used in 1991 and has remained the primary color since then. Even though it’s called Pacific Blue, and the Netherlands is surrounded by water in the north, the color illustrates the sky.
Let’s discover what KLM typography symbolizes.
The KLM typography portrays power and trust. When I look at it, I get that sinking feeling of G-force when the plane is taking off.
7. Air France Minimalistic Logo
Air France is one of the most minimalistic logos revealed on the list. The latest logo used by the airline was designed by Brandimage in 2016. It’s not much different compared to the predecessor made in 2009. That version had richer colors and shadows for a 3D effect.
The design of the latest version follows the trends set in 2016 when designers moved to the flat design style.
Something that has been used in redesigns throughout the brand’s history is the slanted shape of the symbol, introduced in 1976.
Like many brands listed here, Air France used colors seen in its national flag – blue, white, and red. They’ve put blue for the typography. White is illustrated as the white space between the typography and symbol, which is in red.
Talking about national flags here. If we look at the red emblem, it could represent the shape of the flag or ribbon fluttering in the wind. So we have this wind representation that is linked with flying.
This “shoosh” shape could also symbolize a plane taking off. Its orientation suggests flying towards us and not away from us like in the American Airlines example.
The brand went with the sans-serif font type that gave me the same sinking feeling as the KLM logo. However, the red symbol counterbalances everything and provides lightness to the whole design.
8. Alitalia Typeface-based Logo
I didn’t know if I should include this logo on the list because the company went bankrupt in 2017. But I wanted to give an example of an airline typeface logo.
The Alitalia logo design hadn’t changed much since 1969 when Landor Associates created the famous A letter form. A few details were added over the years, but that’s it.
Like the KLMs logo, it’s not aesthetically pleasing, but it pops out when you put other airline logos besides.
The design doesn’t represent the feeling of lightness. Still, its compact shape resembles the mammoth form of the plane, with the first letter A symbolizing the vertical stabilizer. The letter A is refined with the red arrow pointing to the sky.
Furthermore, the color sequence of green, white, and red symbolizes the color order of the Italian flag. Green also symbolizes safety, which is essential when your feet are not touching the ground.
The forward-leaning sans-serif font symbolizes moving forward or, in this case, flying.
9. Austrian Airlines True To Their Tradition
This airline has not undergone many significant branding changes since it was first revealed in 1962. In that version, the designers already used the chevron pointing forward. The third, final alteration was made in 2003 by Landor Associates.
Ok, let’s begin with the symbol part of the logo.
The red arrow could be an abstract representation of the first letter of the airline’s name, letter A. But not only that, but it could also symbolize an airplane that is moving forward, or it could represent the bird’s head.
Suppose we experiment with the shape of this arrow just a little bit and turn it upside down. In that case, it could also illustrate the map pointing icon, pointing to where we want to go.
It is worth noting that the sequence of red followed by white, followed by red, matches the color arrangement of the Austrian flag perfectly.
Let’s move on to the logo’s typography.
In many airline logos, we’ve seen slanted typography as a representation of movement. But not in this case. Designers who made the Austrian Airlines logo selected a serif font, demonstrating Austria’s elegance and rich cultural heritage.
10. Delta Air Lines Displays Trust
The current logo was designed in 2007 by Lippincott Mercer. However, the company went through several redesigns of the logotype during the years. However, the triangular shape follows the airline’s branding from 1929. The reason for this lies in the fact that the triangular shape symbolizes the fourth letter in the Greek alphabet – delta.
If we touch the colors first, we can observe that they match the US national colors. But their symbolism doesn’t end there. The blue color represents the sky, while the red is linked to the aircraft engines’ flame.
Now, let’s move the triangular shape of the emblem. It is a symbol of the Greek letter, but it also symbolizes the swept wings of the aircraft. Also, the arrow points upward to the sky, associating with the airline sector.
The design agency wisely used a sans-serif font with extra letter spacing to counterbalance the giant symbol that signifies trust.
Conclusion: The Best Airline Logos
There are many different airlines around the world with other logos. In this article, we cover the top 10.
They all have designs that uniquely represent them. Some airline logos are simple, while others are more complex. But no matter which one you look at, there is a story behind it.
If you’re interested in exploring the meaning of logos and seeing what else I’ve got in that category, be sure to check out some of my other articles.