Southwest Airlines recently got a brand new heart—and a custom typeface to match. The new logo and font, unveiled last September, were commissioned as part of the airline's “brand refresh,” a redesign aimed at updating the company’s look without changing its overall tenets. According to Rodney Abbot, a senior partner at Lippincott (the storied agency that directed the change), the makeover was about “uncovering the true Southwest, not about creating a new Southwest.” As the craft of branding evolves and expands across all businesses, it's a textbook example of how companies express their values through design.
Southwest wanted to capitalize on its reputation for humanity and customer loyalty while also making a new, visual bid to attract customers. The first stage was to replace its two separate logos: the “Winged Heart” and the “Take-Off” symbol (a plane in flight over their name) Their updates, Lippincott said, aimed for a modern look that also demonstrated that “despite its fun-loving personality, Southwest Airlines is a really buttoned-up operation.”
Although not the freshest graphic icon in the logo-making toolkit, the heart is appropriate: Southwest’s home base is at Love Field Airport in Dallas, TX; its stock symbol is LUV. Yet the heart, which has always been a part of the Southwest identity, was hackneyed for the company: Hundreds of variations appeared in both internal and customer-facing communications. “To overcome this,” Abbot said, “we decided to … elevate it."