The glamor, comfort, and ease of airline travel built the airline corporations we know and love today. From when Pan Am Airways ruled the skies to the epic rise of Delta Airlines, we have seen what it takes for these companies to become the legacies they are today. As airline travel became more prevalent, the desire to “fly in style” did as well. Their services were outstanding, their standards were high, and their staff well-trained. But, after suffering bankruptcies, increased fuel costs, and changes in customer expectations, many airlines crumbled under the pressure. Delta, however, was one of the few that rose high above the rest. A company that has been in business for nearly a century, Delta found a way to thrive amid many troubling circumstances. Over the years, they acquired several other struggling airlines (including the iconic Pan Am) and survived their own bankruptcy and restructuring. But what sets this legacy brand apart? How did they manage to catch the attention of so many loyal customers? With a constantly changing visual identity, what has made them so memorable? It raises the question, how important is a brand identity to the success of a business?
As Delta ventured into passenger air travel in 1929, they embarked on their epic logo and branding journey. Their logo displayed Mercury, the Roman god of travel and commerce, to showcase that bold transition. Heading into the 1930s, Delta’s logo changed a handful more times. One of those logos was a tribute to their crop-dusting roots and depicted Thor, the Norse god of thunder, war, and agriculture. A later logo in the ’30s advertised their new company slogan; “Speed, Comfort, Convenience.” Each time their logo changed, it seemed to illustrate their vision for where the company was heading at that point in time. The Delta logo that we know and love today, known as the “widget,” wasn’t even introduced until the end of the ’50s. There have been many variations of the widget throughout the years. With each new image, they aim to represent their heritage while boldly expressing who they will be as they step forward into the future. Their logo has become the company story we can follow throughout their decades of business. In the midst of their ever-changing visual identity, what has remained so remarkable about a legacy brand like Delta for so many years? Is it the caliber of expectation? Or perhaps, their standard of excellence? Surrounded by an ever-changing world and with passenger expectations growing higher and higher, Delta has somehow managed to remain at the top of their game for nearly 100 years.
A purpose-driven brand, believing in respecting and reflecting the community that they serve.
Delta has undoubtedly made revolutionary changes to the air travel industry. They have become renowned for breaking barriers to adapt to their passengers' needs. From the beginning, they have been a purpose-driven brand, believing in respecting and reflecting the community that they serve. To do that efficiently, they have had to be quite innovative. They had many aerial firsts, including becoming the first airline to successfully fly living vegetable plants in 1945 when they removed the seats from a 21-seat passenger plane and flew 160,000 tomato plants from Tift County, Georgia, to the H.J. Heinz Company farms in Ohio. A trip that began as an experiment changed how farmers could transport crops. It offered earlier planting dates and reduced costs to farmers. Thanks to this revolutionary experiment, we can transport live plants from anywhere in the world today—an outstanding example of how they built their brand on putting their customers first.
Delta continues to be rated high in customer satisfaction due to their ability to break down barriers year after year. As a corporation, they took the challenges that they were facing and saw them as opportunities to expand in more functional and productive ways, reminding their customers of their versatility and adaptability. This quality has allowed them to have much of the success they have today. It creates the company trustworthiness that we all search for in a company’s brand. We saw other legacy brands like Pan Am disappear due to their inability to change with the world. The challenges of rising fuel costs, new airline competition, and the day-to-day turbulence within the travel industry became too much for some companies to handle, leading to their ultimate demise. This allowed the more innovative companies to be creative in their decision-making and strategic with their partnerships. But, Delta has an impeccable “change power.” They have an incredible talent for coordinating rapid change with mastery and personability, creating trust between them and their customers. In the end, this strengthens their brand and their bond with their customers.
How important is an updated logo and branding model to the success of your business?
For many companies, a logo gives them recognition, and changing that may seem risky. But throughout the years, Delta has taken that risk roughly 20 times. So, the question remains, how important is an updated logo and branding model to the success of your business? Delta has established that not only is it essential, but that risk can pay off with massive business growth and success if done correctly. Their logo is nothing spectacular, but the company itself is. Examining the outward image they present to us may seem simple, but it tells the story of who they are now and who they have been. Looking back at their nearly 20 logos throughout the decades, we can see who they were at each period in time and who they wanted people to remember them to have been; a company that is for their customers, for their employees, for their country, and most importantly a resilient company that we can all depend on.
We all want to build a legacy brand. Corporations like Delta Airlines show us just how that is possible. A brand is so much more than your visual identity alone. Who we are as a company is who we are behind the company, and our logo embodies that. Seeing Delta evolve throughout the years has shown us that adaptability is crucial to a company's survival. The glamour, comfort, and ease of flying may be what popularized air travel, but companies such as Delta gained their customer loyalty through their commitment to their customers and their propensity for creatively growing and changing as the world has—showing us that risks done well are always worth taking.
Taking calculated risks for the long-term success of a business is well worth it.
As you prepare for your branding adventure, there are a lot of choices to make. We all want to catch the eye of our customers, so let your branding tell a story. The story of who you are, where you came from, and how you can change their world! It is the reflection of everything you are and want to be. Taking calculated risks for the long-term success of a business is well worth it. With a team like ours, you will have the support you need every step of the way. Together, we can create a memorable brand because it will exude everything you want to be. So, let's fly together!
Don’t just wing it. We can fly high and dream big!