A new look for London Luton Airport

Ico Design has launched a new brand identity for Luton Airport which aims to reposition it as one of Londons leading airports and improve its public image ahead of a £100 million redevelopment programme.

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.

  • Great type, great colours, great icons. A very well done and comprehensive system.

  • Sammy B

    super dupes!

  • Mark

    Nice, but reminds me of a nursery school, not necessarily a bad thing.

  • LK

    Wonderful.

    Great to see an ‘out-of-context’ design done superbly. Just goes to show that an airport doesn’t need to be branded like the countless other competitors.

    Hope other organisations look to this.

  • Wish all airports looked like this.

  • looks great, brightens up what is from memory a rather drab experience

  • Tony L

    Outstanding work. Love the fact that the whole system is driven by the desire to deliver an engaging customer experience and boy does it do just that! Makes me want to fly from Luton!

  • Very different to all other airports! I hope it helps cheer people up and give a nicer buzz to the place. I do quite like the airport, only usedit a few times, but always seems pleaseant enough!

  • Very different to all other airports! I hope it helps cheer people up and give a nicer buzz to the place. I do quite like the airport, only usedit a few times, but always seems pleaseant enough!

  • It is a nice concept (the relaxing, adventurous, enternaining,… part). Nice execution, it brightens up a dull place as an airport. The only thing I am wondering is about the concept of the branding. It is describes as:

    “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.”

    I’m not how you guys see this, but I can’t find any link with the logo/whole branding and the concept which is inspired by venues. The buildings they give for examples have subtle architecture, a lot of light (and white) and open spaces (except the St Pancras station).

    For me it is just a nice execution of nice looking design without anything more. Maybe somebody of you guys can tell me how they see the link with the concept?

    Thanks!

    http://www.cedepe.be

  • Bps

    I can see similarities to the Olympics branding (e.g. unconventional colour choices) and it’s nice that they’ve gone for something so bold in quite a conservative industry. The 2012 Olympics however was a one time-thing, and as much as I like the new look I have a feeling it will age quite quickly.

  • I love the branding – very fresh. Is it suitable for an airport – not sure.

    I don’t think sitting on a hard white box in front of some fluorescent colors is going to provide a good calming environment for customers before they jump on a plane.

    Don’t get me wrong, it looks really fun and wouldn’t look out of place in a science museum or educational space. I just think it’s the right design in the wrong place.

  • Steve myland

    I like the fresh idea. I like what you plan to do with the walls to brighten them up. As with the rest of the idea…
    The comments made by Mark Narusson sum it up for me too.

  • Fresh look indeed, only concern is the longevity of something so obviously of the moment.