Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines
Project Summary

Getting to the heart of a beloved brand

The Ask
Building on their unique strengths, can we modernize Southwest’s look while uniting a fragmented visual system and helping the airline connect with millennials and business travelers?
vintage image of southwest flight attendants outside airplane
old southwest logo
old southwest color identity

Even with a very human reputation and 40+ consecutive years of profitability, Southwest Airlines isn’t immune to competitive and market pressures.

Competitors have attempted to undercut them on price by unbundling services (and then charging for extras), and rivals have upped the ante with new services and technologies. Southwest saw an opportunity to develop a new brand identity for a new era, one that would build on its differentiators and set the business up for continued success.

The goal Lippincott was tasked with achieving? Rebrand Southwest by distilling 40+ years of success into a modern, impactful look, uniting a fragmented visual system and helping the airline connect with two highly desirable segments: millennials and business travelers.

notebook with notes inside print outs of southwest flight tickets notebook with new southwest logo ideas

Uncovering the true differentiator

Achieving a successful design solution required aligning the company’s vision with its tremendous history. Southwest had long stood for freedom, but our research pointed to something deeper. It has always treated every passenger equally. This led to the insight to focus on what makes the Southwest Airlines brand great: its emphasis on people first.

Breathing new life into a classic symbol

In this examination, we identified the most potent symbolic asset: the heart. While always a part of the brand’s identity, the heart had become overused, with hundreds of variations. We chose to use the heart to make a bigger statement and, in doing so, helped it become a truly iconic symbol. 

In 2014, Southwest claimed the humble but bold heart as its symbol, crystallizing a business philosophy 47 years in the making and showing the world that what started Southwest is exactly what will lead it into the future—treating people more like people.

image of pilot getting on plane and placing hand on southwest heart on side of airplane

image of new southwest airplane seats

Building a visual system with heart

Complementing the new Southwest logo is a redesign of the brand’s livery, airports, and website. From planes to snack packaging, the refresh is modern but true to Southwest’s DNA: confident, authentic, and full of personality.

“The Heart emblazoned on our aircraft, and within our new look, symbolizes our commitment that we’ll remain true to our core values as we set our sights on the future.”

Gary Kelly
Chairman, President, and CEO, Southwest Airlines

image of new southwest visual identity on airplane

image of new southwest visual identity on snacks

image of new southwest visual identity on heart pins

image of new southwest visual identity

“Overall, I think this is one of the best airline redesigns we’ve seen in many years. There is a clear pride in it from Southwest… It’s almost rare for a company to have this much confidence in a rebranding launch.”

Armin Vit
Brand New

southwest new font

image of southwest new visual identity

southwest service desk at airport

visual identity on mobile devices

Video

southwest new visual identity kit

southwest visual identity on website

southwest special offers on computer

southwest flight options on mobile device

Flying higher

Immediately following its evolution, it was blues skies for Southwest. The brand was named airline of the year and top investment pick of 2014. Not only did the airline have a 95 percent appeal to Southwest flyers, but it also saw a seven percent increase in consideration among business travelers as well as an increase in brand commitment among the general market.

Lippincott has continued to work with Southwest through the years to show that a little heart goes a long way, from creating a comprehensive UX design system to crafting a campaign for the brand’s 50th anniversary. All of which are meaningfully grounded in what makes Southwest special: putting people first.

nose of southwest airplane with pilot and flight attendants walking towards plane
Our Impact
95%
appeal to flyers
7%
increase in consideration among business travelers
68%
general market brand commitment
News & Recognition