Fly the Branded Skies


Image of the tail of a new United Airlines plane“Airlines are an ego-driven business,” according to airline analyst Robert Mann. “I joke, but only partly, that the three biggest issues in airline consolidation are: What are we going to call it? Where is it going to be based? And who is going to run it?”

It makes sense. If not for ego, why would anyone go into the airline business? To make money? You’d be better off stuffing your money under a mattress. And then setting the mattress on fire.

In any event, the parties to the merger of United and Continental have been careful to treat egos on both sides of the deal equitably. The combined company will be based in Chicago, United’s hometown, but will be led by Continental’s CEO. And it will pair the United name with Continental’s logo, livery, and colours.

You have to wonder how close we were to an airline with Continental’s name and United’s logo. Did they flip a coin? Surely there were no high-priced brand consultants involved. The decision was made in a board room. Then they sent one of the lawyers out to mock up a picture of the new plane in Photoshop.

It remains to be seen how long this arrangement will last. The Continental identity is already nearly twenty years old and looking a bit dated—there may be a redesign in the combined airline’s future.