Monday 15 July 2019

Fresh look for Aer Lingus as €2m brand refresh tinkers with famous shamrock

Jet set: First Officers Niall McCauley, Laura Bennett and Paul Deegan at the unveiling of the new livery. Photo: Naoise Culhane
Jet set: First Officers Niall McCauley, Laura Bennett and Paul Deegan at the unveiling of the new livery. Photo: Naoise Culhane
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

More than 20 years ago it was the tilting shamrock that caused a stir, but now the three-leafed plant has once again been reinvented by Aer Lingus as part of a rebrand.

As it was revealed yesterday, the reaction across social media was already mixed. Some missed the greener aircraft livery, arguing it's what signalled to them that they were 'home' before they'd even boarded.

Others welcomed the change, with one describing it as "smart and snappy".

As 250 guests gathered at the Aer Lingus hangar at Dublin Airport for the big reveal, leaked photos of the new brand had already showed that, as expected, the shamrock had been tinkered with.

This is not the first time the carrier has done this. In 1996, the last time the Aer Lingus brand underwent a major overhaul, the new 'tilting shamrock' was introduced. It was also given a stem, and the shade of green used by the airline was softened (it was 'meadow green', no less).

The cost of that rebrand exercise attracted some criticism. Then chief executive Gary McGann defended the IR£8m spend, saying "it's a small number in the context of the size of the business we are".

A troupe of in-vogue Irish dancers, flush with the success of a fledgling Riverdance, was on hand back then to unveil the new logo.

This time around, the twee was banished. The shamrock is still important. It just needed to be tweaked with an almost €2m makeover.

New Aer Lingus chief executive Sean Doyle said the airline was an "iconic Irish brand… woven deep into the fabric of Irish life".

The airline's chief operating officer Mike Rutter said Aer Lingus had been conscious that "any new imagining of the brand must remain true to those who feel the brand is part of their life and their landscape".

"We're also deeply aware that the brand must reflect Ireland in 2019, a society that is open, progressive, liberal, outward-looking and dynamic," said Mr Rutter, who was clearly on a roll. "An Ireland that is proudly European and has become the destination choice for inward investment."

If you ever wonder what's behind a decision to paint a jet mostly white and rejig a shamrock, director of marketing and digital experience Dara McMahon gave a flavour of it.

Research began a year ago, with focus groups from across Ireland, continental Europe and North America asked for their opinions on the brand, she said. A key objective was to project Aer Lingus as a "modern airline, but one that's also proud of its heritage".

Meanwhile, the new uniform for airline crews will match the livery of the new aircraft with a striking shade of teal and navy. Fleeting images of illustrations showed in video format yesterday revealed strong tailoring looks from designer Louise Kennedy.

Irish Independent

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