Allow to me quote myself from something I said a little over three months ago: “In all likelihood we will see a new logo in the next year or two.” Boy was I wrong as a drunk at the race track. It wasn’t two years. Or a year. Barely a financial quarter has passed before United Airlines — the resulting moniker of the merger between it and Continental — changed its logo. And if you thought it couldn’t get worse, bet again.
Yesterday, United and Continental Airlines, the third- and fourth-largest U.S. carriers respectively, announced they would be merging, creating the first-largest carrier. While the media focuses on numbers of flights, ramifications for shareholders and what will happen to customers’ frequent flyer miles we focus our attention on what really matters: The literal merger of two infinitely different brands. As I see it, United has always had the cooler, hipper personality with its Saul Bass-designed tulip icon and Pentagram-crafted wordmark (and livery) as well as its lovely mid-00s TV advertising campaign by Fallon. Continental, on the other hand and despite its globe logo having matching Saul Bass origins is, well, bland. Competent, but boring. Last updated by Lippincott in the early 1990s, making the globe more refined and the typography more formal. So how can these two identities come together? Well, rather painfully.