DALLAS, TX – Southwest Airlines introduced a modern new look to its iconic brand today at an event dedicated to its Employees. The airline proudly unveiled a new aircraft livery, named Heart, airport experience, and logo. The new look puts the airline’s Heart on display, showcasing the strength of the nearly 46,000 Employees Companywide—whose dedication can be felt by every Customer each time Southwest Airlines connects them to what’s important in their life.
“Our collective heartbeat is stronger and healthier than ever, and that’s because of the warmth, the compassion, and the smiles of our People,” said Gary Kelly, Southwest Airlines Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer. “The Heart emblazoned on our aircraft, and within our new look, symbolizes our commitment that we’ll remain true to our core values as we set our sights on the future.”
It’s a big year for Southwest, as the airline introduces its legendary brand to international destinations; the repeal of the Wright Amendment is within sight; and the integration of AirTran Airways operations is on track to be completed later this year. Southwest continues to evolve, serving more than 90 destinations, and expanding its footprint in big markets like New York City and Washington, D.C.
“With all these exciting changes happening, we thought it was time for a new visual expression of our brand—one that marries our past to our present and sets the course for where we’re headed in the future,” Kelly said.
NEW LOOK, SAME GREAT EXPERIENCE
The announcement of Southwest Airlines’ modern new look introduces a striking new livery design, new iconic Southwest logo, newly designed inflight materials and magazine, an advertising campaign that celebrates the airline’s unique personality, and a revamped experience both online and at its airport locations, all of which showcase the unique spirit and Heart of the brand, and communicate its focus on Customer care. In addition, the airline will introduce a refresh to its signature “DING!” mnemonic.
To bring this all to life, Southwest collaborated with advertising and branding partners GSD&M, Lippincott, VML, Razorfish and Camelot Communications—each an expert in their own field. The task was given to distill more than 40 years of rich history into one modern, impactful look, representing the exciting future of a one-of-a-kind airline.
“The job wasn’t to change who we are,” said Kevin Krone, Southwest’s Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer. “We already know who we are. The job was to keep the elements of Southwest that our Employees and Customers love, and to make them a bold, modern expression of our future.”
“With so much of Southwest’s focus firmly set on the future, it was a natural time to look at our visual identity,” said Bob Jordan, Southwest Airlines Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer.
“As we developed the identity, it wasn’t just about the new livery or the logo, but about developing the total, integrated brand expression of Southwest,” said Rodney Abbot, Senior Partner at Lippincott.
“The Heart is our identity—the Heart of our Southwest Employees enhances the Customer experience,” said Krone. “It’s the finishing touch that makes the Southwest brand unique, demonstrating that Southwest cares about each and every Customer. Even on the belly of the plane, the Heart is a symbolic reminder that we put our Hearts into every flight.”
“For more than three decades, GSD&M has partnered with Southwest Airlines, so we certainly understand and believe in the power of Southwest’s Heart,” said Marianne Malina, President of GSD&M. “We were thrilled with the opportunity to partner with an extraordinary and talented team to bring Southwest’s love of People front and center. This work is a celebration of the great brand that Southwest has become and, most importantly, where it’s headed next.”
Southwest Airlines and its partners did comprehensive research and held numerous focus groups with Employees and Customers to determine how best to create the new look. The airline heard that it was important to remain unique and to retain its personality; for these reasons, Southwest continues to use the vibrant color palate and striped tail that has long identified the carrier, while adding a modern touch, proudly displaying the Southwest name on the side of the fuselage and presenting the Heart on the aircraft belly. Southwest has had several different liveries and logos throughout its 43-year history; remaining current and relevant is critical to the sustainability and future growth of the brand.
As a legendary low-fare carrier, Southwest doesn’t make a change this bold without first assessing the cost impact. The approach and focus with this launch has been with the intent to remain cost-neutral by using a phased rollout. Aircraft will receive the newly painted livery within the aircraft’s existing repainting schedule, with new aircraft delivered in the new Heart livery. In addition, many of the future airport conversions will be integrated into existing and upcoming airport improvement projects. Because Southwest is taking this cost-conscious approach to the conversion of planes and airports, it might be some time before Customers and Employees see the new design in person.