Ico Design has launched a new brand identity for Luton Airport which aims to reposition it as one of London’s leading airports and improve its public image ahead of a £100 million redevelopment programme.
The new identity has so far been applied to walkways and an exhibition space at Luton and will be rolled out across signage, wayfinding, interiors and communications. The airport was recently granted planning permission to carry out a series of developments that will increase its capacity from 12 to 18 million passengers a year by 2026.
The new identity is based around a flexible, modular marque which can be arranged horizontally, vertically or diagonally and filled with block colours, graphic patterns or photography. Ico has also devised a cheerful colour palette inspired by the sky at different times of day and night and worked with Gijon-based studio Atipo on a custom typeface and icon set, shown below.
Vivek Bhatia, creative director at Ico, says the identity and planned design changes aim to present Luton as a more efficient and ‘passenger‐focussed’ airport. “The essence is ‘simplicity with a smile’ – bringing delight to passengers by making their journey, easy, enjoyable with unexpected pleasant experiences,” he says.
When designing the new brand marque, Bhatia says Ico was keen to distance Luton visually from local competitors and avoid the usual reference points in airport and airline identities, which often rely on a swoosh or similar smybol to indicate flight and motion. The studio also avoided symbols inspired by local culture or geographical references and points of interest.
The concept for the branding was inspired by venues such as London’s St Pancras station, the Olympic Park and Westfield shopping centre, which Ico says aren’t just infrastructures but destinations in their own right. Both the identity and interiors aim to create a space to relax and be entertained in, says Ico, rather than somewhere to simply park, eat and fly, and the new terminal, designed by Pascal + Watson, will include more family-friendly seating areas and play spaces for children, as well as more colourful graphics and signage.
In the new walkways, large-scale type is used alongside graphic shapes and imagery of various destinations served by the airport, and Bhatia says Ico is building a library of original photographs for interiors, communications and advertising. Images are inspired by street photography rather than travel catalogues and polished promotional pictures, and those used in the airport so far feature locations in Israel, Poland, Spain and the Netherlands.
“The concept is ‘stories from the street’ – it follows the brand values of creativity and unconventional [identified in branding workshops carried out during the rebrand process]. We sourced all the imagery by approaching European street photographers directly, through our own contacts,” Bhatia.
The project is still in its early stages, but branding will eventually be applied to buses, banners and even staff uniforms, as well as a new website, and is a considerable improvement on the airport’s previous identity, which was bland, dated and almost indistinguishable from some of its competitors:
The new typeface, photography and colour palette add some much needed interest to interior spaces, and the branding should help Luton establish a stronger voice, challenging perceptions of it as a poor or lesser known alternative to Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted.