Vignelli on new American Airlines: no sense of history

“Design cannot cover the mistakes of bad management, but styling can.” American Airlines has introduced a new brand identity and livery, replacing Massimo Vignelli’s classic created in 1967. We asked Vignelli for his opinion on the new look

“Design cannot cover the mistakes of bad management, but styling can.” American Airlines has introduced a new brand identity and livery, replacing Massimo Vignelli’s classic created in 1967. We asked Vignelli for his opinion on the new look

American Airlines’ new mark

And Vignelli’s original


CR contacted Vignelli, who created the airline’s previous identity which endured for over 40 years, for his thoughts on the new scheme after it was unveiled yesterday. “A designer can only be as good as their clients, therefore the new American Airlines Identity doesn’t surprise me much,” he says. “Clients without [a] sense of history, could not understand the value of equity. When we designed the logo for Ford we decided to keep the original Ford oval, because it is part of our collective culture and history. We did the same with the CINZANO logo, and we will always do that when equity and history come together on a brand. However we are not conservative, on the contrary we design [a] new logo any time there is a need for it.”

Collateral created by Vignelli/Unimark in 1967


“It seems to me that there was no need for American Airlines to undertake such a change, but many people do not understand the difference between Design and Styling, and believe in change for the sake of change,” Vignelli believes. “This is a very young country and has little time to appreciate the value of history. Perhaps in the future it will became wiser…”


“Eleven stripes for a company in Chapter 11?” American Airlines’ new livery


“Design cannot cover the mistakes of bad management, but styling can. That is why American Airlines opted for that solution. (Eleven stripes for a Company in Chapter 11? an appropriate solution….). The logo we designed 45 years ago had equity, value and timelessness. Why to bother with it”

“Anyhow, I am quite proud of what I did long ago and wish the best to them. Only time will say…”

Read our post on the American Airlines redesign here

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Client Manager


Senior Designer

Crown Growing Brand Belief