The best sign of a great design is that you never get tired of looking at it — in fact, it keeps looking better over time. That’s what I’ve always thought of Massimo and Lella Vignelli’s designs for the exterior of the American Airlines fleet, which was elegantly simple and powerful … . Not, however, to the management of American Airlines, which somehow got the idea that the best way to deal with the struggles it has been having with its labor unions, its passengers, its rivals, and its investors was to change the way its planes look. The airline just unveiled a new design — oops, sorry, I meant to say “new branding” — that replaces the Vignellis’ classic design with a tiresome, rather trite abstraction of the American flag on the tail, the American name in gargantuan gray letters on the fuselage, and a bizarre new logo that abstracts the eagle into nothing more than a disembodied, curving white beak that looks like it is ripping into a field of blue and red. Talk about fixing what wasn’t broken.
I wonder how much American has spent to generate all this negative press.