Into the blue: Lufthansa unveils new livery

The graphic design world is mourning the loss of another classic identity with the news that Lufthansa is replacing Otl Aicher’s classic yellow and blue livery with a more ‘premium’ look

Officially announced today (February 7), the Lufthansa Blue project will see the airline’s classic yellow and blue tailfins replaced with a new, deeper blue design. A redrawn wordmark will also feature while the airline’s fuselages are now all white, instead of the existing grey underbelly. The crane logo, created by Otto Firle in 1918, has been retained.

Deutschen Luft-Reederei ad from 1920 featuring the crane logo. Photo: LH-Bildarchiv Lufthansa

Lufthansa’s classic yellow, blue and white actually predates Otl Aicher’s scheme from 1963, but it is the latter that will forever be associated with the airline. It was even the subject of a celebratory book from Lars Muller publishers in 2012 – A5/05: Lufthansa und Graphic Design.

Spread from  A5/05: Lufthansa und Graphic Design
Lufthansa timetable by Otl Aicher, 1966. Image: Lufthansa Foto
Lufthansa Boeing 737-200, 1988). Photo: Werner Krueger/Lufthansa

It has been said that Aicher’s introduction of a warmer yellow for the airline was in response to the democratisation of airline travel at the time, making the airline seem friendlier to its new passengers. The new design, however, appears to be motivated by a shift toward the same a premium positioning adopted by many of Lufthansa’s rivals. And that meant reassessing its use of colour.

Lufthansa’s Corporate Designer Ronald Wild, who led the project, says in a launch video for the scheme that “Lufthansa has been defined almost equally by the colours yellow and blue.” “We knew that if we wanted to develop further in the premium direction, we would have to give more emphasis to one of the colours,” adds Lufthansa’s Vice President Marketing, Alexander Schlaubitz. “We decided to define blue as the lead colour for Lufthansa.”

However, he seems at pains to point out, “That does not mean we will lose yellow as a colour. We will never give up yellow! It means that blue has been increased to 75% of quantity but yellow has received a different purpose. We are making yellow more special.”

The yellow will now be used as an accent colour – for a welcome sign next to the door of aircraft, for example.

The Lufthansa word mark has also been redrawn – by Hannes von Döhren of HvD Fonts. He explains a little about the process in this video:

Lufthansa has been trailing the redesign extensively over the past month, with aircraft in the new livery touring the world and elements of the redesign, along with supporting videos featuring the design and repainting process released via the @lufthansanews Twitter feed.

The new design has already met with much criticism from the airline community. However, Lufthansa has mitigated a lot of the inevitable backlash in the way it has sought to carefully manage the launch. The dripfeed of images and information via Twitter, along with its use of video and a microsite (Explore the New) devoted to the relaunch have helped dilute the shock of the new that always accompanies such high-profile brand projects.

From Lufthansa’s Explore the New website tracking the brand’s evolution over time