For businesses across the world, branding plays a crucial role in public perception and airlines are no different. One of the most prominent pieces of an airline’s brand is its logo, as it often appears on a wide range of items including aircraft, seats, food, advertisements and more. In this multi-part series, we will look into some of the local ties and histories from which some logos are born and how they have grown or evolved over the years.
We conclude our three-week look at African carriers by glancing at two North African brands that have used their local flare to create logos that stand out to the rest of Africa.
Much like most of the other African airlines we previously covered, Tunisair turned to its surrounding nature to find a logo for the carrier responsible for getting people around Tunisia. The airline was established in 1948 in a joint move between the Tunisian government and Air France as a way to provide service for the Tunisian people.
To keep ties to the locals, the airline would adopt a red and white color scheme to match the country’s flag and the logo of the gazelle. While not the national animal of Tunisia, the gazelle is very popular to the region that is home to multiple gazelle types in the Cuvier’s gazelle and dama gazelle. The twin-horned animal would first appear on the airline’s Douglas DC-3s forward fuselage while the star and crescent moon appearing on the tail.
As the jet age took hold in Tunisia, the flag carrier would opt to keep the gazelle and drop the star and moon as the primary logo from the aircraft. New branding would see the Tunisian flag and gazelle swap places with the flag now appearing behind the ‘TUNIS AIR’ brand name on the forward fuselage while the gazelle would move to the tail. To complement the change, the gazelle would form the central section of the ‘a’ as the airline’s initials ‘ta’ would appear on the tail.
The airline would go through one final branding change in 1990 with the gazelle finally getting the aircraft tail to itself as the ‘ta’ would be dropped. The new mostly white livery would feature the gazelle jumping up the tail with a stylized stripe pattern following behind it. The gazelle would also make its first appearance on the aircraft engines with a similar design to mirror that on the tail.
In the years since, the aircraft have not changed in design but a new slightly altered gazelle has started appearing in marketing and airline branding. The new logo removes the red and white striped pattern and streamlines the gazelle down to just an outline. The airline uses both the 1990s version and new design in different portions of its website, branding and inflight magazine called La Gazelle.
Much like Tunisair, the country responsible for controlling the River Nile Delta has also had a flag carrier that turns to its local ties for branding inspiration but instead of looking at the present, has turned to the past.
EgyptAir would start operations in the 1930s as the flag carrier of the United Arab Republic that existed between present-day Syria and Egypt. The airline would operate under the name United Arab Airlines and use the country’s flag on aircraft and promotional materials.
The flag, which is still used by Bashar al-Assad’s Syrian Arab Republic regime, used the red, white and black horizontal stripes of the Arab Liberation Flag from the 1950s but modified it with two green stars in the center to represent the two occupied territories of Egypt and Syria. The airline’s livery had the flag across the tail with cheatlines of light blue and jade green being used on the fuselage.
However, the deal between Syria and Egypt to form the United Arab Republic would collapse in the 1960s when the Syrians pulled a coup d’etat on then-leader Gamal Abdel Nasser and forced Syria out of unifying deal with Egypt. While Syria left the UAR, Egypt would keep the name until 1971.
With no new countries joining Egypt in the United Arab Republic, the government decided it would be in the best interest to drop the former alliance name in favor of the new Arab Republic of Egypt. The newly-renamed country would also see the national airline change its name from United Arab Airlines to EgyptAir.
With a newly rebranded carrier trying to establish itself, EgyptAir would turn to the country’s rich past to find its newest logo. The airline turned to Egyptian history and make the newest logo the sky god Horus. Horus, often depicted as a falcon or just the Eye of Horus, would often be painted on sea vessels in hopes of safe travels during the times of the Ancient Egyptian Empire.
Horus would make his first appearance in the 1970s and would be painted with a red head and blue feathers on a gold backdrop. The Horus logo would also appear on engine casings. The airline’s livery would keep the warm color theme, using red and gold cheat lines on early liveries and branding.
EgyptAir’s livery would go untouched for nearly 25 years when a color change was made in the mid-1990s that would see blue become the dominant color for the airline.
Horus would remain unchanged in structure, but the blue feathers would be replaced with gold and the gold circle that used to surround him would be exchanged for an all blue tail. The sky god would also hold his position on the engine covers but like the tail be surrounded by the color blue. As part of the new logo, the airline would alter its marketing designs and sponsorships to show the entire EgyptAir aircraft tail instead of just the Egyptian god. The airline would also start an inflight magazine under the name Horus that could be read in both English and Arabic.
The first and only time Horus has been altered would come in 2008 when the airline announced what would become its latest rebranding. Horus’s design would streamline down by removing his facial features and just keeping the eye and feathers in the design. For the first time, Horus would also drop the red and gold colors from his design, being left with a new design that featured multiple shades of blue.
The airline would have a new livery to match the newly designed Horus and add a new first-time tweak for the 37-year old carrier. For the first time, an enlarged Horus would make an appearance on the forward fuselage of the aircraft as the god would take the place of where the airline’s name used to be. The airline’s name in English would be moved into billboard titles over the wing of the aircraft while the Arabic spelling, مصر للطيران, would take over the Horus design on the engine cover. The logo on the tail would also be surrounded by multiple shades of blue.
As a result of the new logo, the airline would revert back to its old marketing strategy of just using the sky deity and not the entire tail. However, the airline has decided to stick with just using Horus in navy for promotional deals, removing all traces of the lighter shades of blue in its marketing.