Saturday, March 10, 2012

meditations on a logo

The airline's logo is a winged circle with a heart inside of it. For the time being, let's refer to the airline, which will remain anonymous, as "SW". Actually, there seem to be two varieties of the logo: one version where the circle is sprouting wings, and the other where a winged heart is flying in front of a circle. I'm already confused.

Logos are the most condense, and thus necessarily precise form of communication from the company to the consumer. In this case, I struggle to comprehend what SW is hoping to convey. The heart, the near-universal symbol for love, is prominent. I assume that this is meant to communicate the fact that SW loves its passengers. The circle around the heart could represent some sort of protective aura, a suggestion that SW will preserve your heart both figuratively and literally (we hope) with some sort of protective shell, or maybe even a force field. Since this is the same anonymous airline that actually lost a section of the ceiling a couple of years back, this metaphor might be somewhat disingenuous.

In the flying-circle version of the logo it appears as if the heart might be trapped by the circle, in which case the message is that SW, once it has your love, will never let it leave. Instead, it will pursue it aerially, where it has the advantage. Under this interpretation, the flying heart version (I'm still not sure why there are two) could be the kinder, more progressive logo, one that protects your heart while letting it fly free.

I wonder if, during the logo development stage, anyone suggested that the wings be replaced with a parachute. This could convey the message that SW is there to let us down gently, even if they do break our heart. Gentleness is not a trait you see often in a company, so this could make for an interesting angle. Of course, in the event that we actually needed a parachute, this might be confusing, especially considering that the logo is embossed on the back of every seat. I can imagine passengers desperately tearing wads of padding out of the seats as the plane rapidly descends, looking for the parachute hidden within, only to realize, too late, that the logo had lied.

In that case, the winged heart might be the more appropriate logo, communicating the lovely but potentially naive idea that everyone gets to go up, after going down.

Footnote: Naive as that last idea may be, considering that I'm on an airplane, and that it's been shaking worse than a wooden rollercoaster for the last 15 minutes, maybe that's the interpretation I'll go with. At least until we land.