My earliest memory is of a turtle with a peg leg dressed as a pirate. I saw it from the window of an airplane. And I never forgot.
I was 3 years old and my family was on vacation. The turtle wasn’t a real turtle, but the logo on the tail of a jet belonging to Cayman Airways. It’s not surprising that the mascot, nicknamed “Sir Turtle,” would appeal to a young kid—but for me, that turtle kicked off a lifelong fascination with airline branding.
That was shortly after the deregulation of the airlines. In the years since, great airline brands have risen and fallen. Some have disappeared rather suddenly — who could have imagined then an airline industry without Eastern? Or Pan Am? Yet these once iconic brands are long gone.
Indeed, of the remaining U.S. “legacy” carriers, only one — American Airlines — has escaped bankruptcy. Airlines in other countries have fared no better. Their powerful brands have not been enough to save them.
It’s hard not to wonder if airline brands even matter anymore. Read more