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Uni ted

Keeping with our hobby of judging large corporate rebranding campaigns, here’s the latest: Ted.

I’m going to be lazy and not even post anything original but, instead, paraphrase some excellent comments and links from the Typophile forum thread dedicated to the subject:

And my favorite comment from the Typophile thread:

TED is United without U N I.

Now say it faster�

TED is United without you and I.

(Links and quotes blatatanly lifted from: Grant Hutchinson, Joseph Pemberton, Alexander Tochilovsky, and Aaron Traub.)

Maintained through our ADV @ UnderConsideration Program
PUBLISHED ON Dec.08.2003 BY darrel
Tan’s comment is:

> TED is United without you and I.

that's funny Darrel. There's a naming firm out there that needs to be shot.

Reminds me of these other corporate names:

Teligent -- as in not quite In-telligent

Genuity -- not quite In-genuity

Tegic -- not Stra-tegic...

It amazes me how these things get missed. It's proof that some corporations don't even know how to listen to themselves.

On Dec.08.2003 at 11:25 AM
Brent’s comment is:

i'm put off by the "put a face to the name tagline" and then there's no face. also, ted isn't the name i'd pick first for a named identity.

famous teds:

ted kaczynski

ted bundy

ted nugent

On Dec.08.2003 at 11:40 AM
David W’s comment is:

TED is United without you and I.

Does this really matter? Really? I don't think so.

I think the name is great. It is very difficult to build a brand that has personality. This one seems to have it from the get-go. Good job.

On Dec.08.2003 at 11:41 AM
big steve’s comment is:

puke my face!

a little to close to dead for me. not the finest name association for an airline... much less one that would be in the grave itself if it weren't for a disguisting federal bailout.

I think they should put cool silkscreeny/vector-ish silouettes of famous American "Teds" on each plane:

Ted Bundy

Ted Kennedy

Ted Kaczynski

Ted Logan (Keanu, of Bill & Ted)

et. al.

On Dec.08.2003 at 11:47 AM
big steve’s comment is:

sorry... i guess didn't see your post, Brent. didn't mean to rip off your list...

On Dec.08.2003 at 11:49 AM
Darrel’s comment is:

that's funny Darrel.

Just to be clear, I plagiarized that entire post from Typophile...I can't take credit for those words. ;o)

On Dec.08.2003 at 11:50 AM
marian’s comment is:

I have an evil ex-boyfriend named Ted so I'm prejudiced from the start.

I thought the logo was intensely dull until I started looking at some of those other spin-offs! My GOD! What are people thinking? Why this penchant for swingy, zippity-do-da names and logos for airlines? They all look like hair gel brands or Barbie accessories. Utterly bizarre. So in the wake of that, I kindof like the boring, staid, no-nonsense look of the Ted logo. It looks like it would get you from A to B, which is what you want.

I love the link to the airline logos. It kinda proves a point re "The Right Answer."

On Dec.08.2003 at 12:08 PM
jonsel’s comment is:

Naming is so darned difficult. With most names, I think you can find something negative to say about them. This is why so many naming firms go to great lengths to identify the latin roots and origins of the created name. It gives it some scientific legs to stand on. But that's no substitute for something that has inherent personality to it. Many names make no sense for their enterprises. Amazon? Apple? Orange? But they instantly conjure up images in your mind, unlike Altria, Spherion or even Microsoft. Good images, I should say.

And remember, the name "Ted" is just the start. If they run it like United, then it will probably be a failure. But if they can capture something new in the entire experience — from buying your ticket to checking in to actually boarding and flying — then it should be a success.

On Dec.08.2003 at 12:24 PM
jonsel’s comment is:


Can you post the Salon article link?

On Dec.08.2003 at 12:42 PM
ps’s comment is:

i think TED is a good name. makes perfect sense for a united light

On Dec.08.2003 at 12:46 PM
ps’s comment is:

Ted(dybear)... armin must like it.

On Dec.08.2003 at 12:58 PM
Armin’s comment is:

I like Ted, my only problem with it is that it sounds like a white-haired, old fart sitting behind his desk with one of those ball-bearings desk accesories that click and go back and forth, back and forth. Other than that it is so bland that I like it. It's just� Ted.

Like mentioned in the Typophile thread and now by Marian, I am very skeptical of all these gameboy-like airlines. I mean, Song? What the hell? I wanna fly, not sing ok? Just get me home.

On Dec.08.2003 at 01:01 PM
Armin’s comment is:

> Ted(dybear)... armin must like it.

Love it!

On Dec.08.2003 at 01:03 PM
kyle’s comment is:

Another point raised on Typophile that I agree with is: their type treatment has a very FedEx feel to it. I would think someone would have caught that.

No matter how lame the concept is, I'll be curious to see if they can carry off the brand promise and actually differentiate themselves from United with service + attitude and all the other things that United should be focusing on themselves.

I wonder if it would have been more effective for United to attempt to heal themselves with reinvigorated branding before starting a copycat happyfuntimes airline. If the parent(s) is so screwed up can they produce a normal child?

On Dec.08.2003 at 01:05 PM
jonsel’s comment is:

I mean, Song? What the hell? I wanna fly, not sing ok? Just get me home.

I like the name, but I'm generally wary of any of these low-cost airlines. I can't get the image of ValuJet out of my head. I have this feeling that the Song or Ted planes are just repainted old Braniff jets that were sitting out in the Mojave under tarps for 25 years.

I'm also extremely skeptical than any established airline like Delta or United can completely revamp the flying experience. They don't seem to be able to fix themselves, so why are they able to run a completely different business model any better?

On Dec.08.2003 at 01:05 PM
jonsel’s comment is:

If the parent(s) is so screwed up can they produce a normal child?

Glad we're thinking alike, Kyle.

Do they have therapy for airlines? Oh yeah, it's called Bankruptcy.

On Dec.08.2003 at 01:07 PM
ps’s comment is:

I wonder if it would have been more effective for United to attempt to heal themselves with reinvigorated branding before starting a copycat happyfuntimes airline. If the parent(s) is so screwed up can they produce a normal child?

they have to do something. ryan air is the most profitable airline there is. southwest is another very successful concepts. so trying to get a slice of that pie makes sense. but they cannot connect their full-service parents to it or it will water those brands down. what will work to their advantage is that they are in bancruptcy proceedings which will give them better terms for taxes, interest, past creditors etc. so they basically can start from a better platform than competitors that actually paid their bills. screwed up... but american.

On Dec.08.2003 at 01:12 PM
Armin’s comment is:

Regarding the link to "The Taxonomy of Airline Names." Did anyone else find it amusing that the naming company's name is Igor?

On Dec.08.2003 at 01:31 PM
Darrel’s comment is:

Can you post the Salon article link?

Oops. Fixed that!

On Dec.08.2003 at 02:22 PM
Tan’s comment is:

You know, what's wrong with just keeping United a whole brand, and lower prices while upholding service?

I think the brand is fine, and their planes are some of the prettiest out there. We have United Shuttle service out here -- it seems to serve their value niche just fine.

Ted's not a terrible name -- just kinda silly to me. But hey, if the price and service is right, I'll fly Asswipe airline if need be.

On Dec.08.2003 at 04:36 PM
Su’s comment is:

Remember when the Dodge Neons were first coming out, and they were sorta trying to make it friendly and anthropormorphized with the cute "Hi." billboards and stuff? That was pretty stupid.

Is there actually a Ted, or is this strictly a name thing? That feels weird, and makes me think of Microsoft Bob. I'm thinking this will fare just as well. I suppose they're following the CB2 naming idea(I know some others have done similarly; can't recall), but there's just something strange about this. Maybe it doesn't go far enough away from the parent name, or something. The reasoning that Ted is a part of the original name, etc. is, um...nice on a conceptual level, but sounds incredibly contrived when it's actually vocalized.

There is some seriously cut-rate Flash going on at the Ted mini-site. I guess that's a propos *snark* I'm absolutely mystified by the "Fun and Games" section.

I agree with Kyle(and whoever brought it up at Typophile). There was a disjointed moment after I clicked over when I suddenly got the impression I was looking at a screwed-up FedEx plane.

On Dec.08.2003 at 04:59 PM
Bradley’s comment is:

I actually rather like what "Michael B." did with Ted...from a branding perspective, I totally understand it because what they're doing is different from the main brand (United) and therefore this alternative line doesn't dilute what equity they already have. So that's cool.

I know that Diti Katona created an identity for an office chair manufacturer and gave all the different chairs various one-syllable men's names. Like Tom. Or Joe, Dave, etc. It was interesting. Hell, if they wanted to adopt a rip-off tagline, "What can Ted do for you?" it'd work a helluva lot better than "What can Brown do for you?"--and speaking of which, because I've never mentioned this at all here, I don't hate that new UPS logo & identity. May not love it, but don't hate it. So David W., I give you complete and utter indifference! (well, not really, but it sounds funnier that way. Hee hee.)

Anyway, Ted. Yeah, this is kinda cool. I like Song too, but I'm not a "metrosexual" so I probably wouldn't "fit in" on that airline. I mean, Kate Spade? Airplanes? Where in that equation does the word "dude" enter? Just not for me.

Ted, on the other hand, I feel comfortable with Ted. I don't know him, but hey, he's not introducing himself to me as someone more important or sophisticated or wealthy. Just Ted. Would I set Ted up with my sister? Probably not, but hey, you never know. I think this'll work out for United, and they deserve to do well with it.

On Dec.08.2003 at 06:03 PM
M Kingsley’s comment is:

presenTED without comment:

another "right answer"

On Dec.08.2003 at 06:50 PM
Chris Risdon (Riz)’s comment is:

I agree with jonsel's comments. Names initially may conjure up some bad associations on an individual basis (just like trying to think of a name for your child by trying to pick something that doesn't have a derogatory alternative).

But really they are blank slates for the brand. And IF the brand delivers as promised, then when you see the name associated with the product (i.e. Ted when you are talking about airlines - not so much when talking about serial killers) you'll have the positive association. Amazon and Orange were good examples given. Amazon as a name didn't mean anything relative to online commerce, so sure some might think of the river, and some might think of women from the East German swim team circa 1985. But now, everyone has an association of what the name stands for relative to commerce.

My pre-designer life was actually as a marketing manager and I hated the time wasted trying to create and target and focus group test names for various companies or products being developed. It was nearly impossible to gain concensus, and as long as you stayed away from the horrendously bad (like 'Crappy Burgers') it really didn't matter because it was putting the cart before the horse (the mark before the brand).

On Dec.08.2003 at 06:54 PM
marian’s comment is:

I'll fly Asswipe airline if need be.

Think of the branding possibilities!!

presenTED without comment:

another "right answer"

But after Armin recommended "no change," he did agree to make some slight alterations to the outline ...

On Dec.08.2003 at 07:19 PM
jonsel’s comment is:

I hated the time wasted trying to create and target and focus group test names for various companies or products being developed.

I worked on a project several years ago where the client was having a difficult time settling on a name, even after intensive focus group testing. To speed the process, and help them approve a name, we took three names into the design phase and did full identity explorations for them. The design ended up selling the name. This struck me as a little backwards (like they weren't sure who they wanted to be until they saw it). But the names we presented were all rather crazy latin conglomerations, so it was easy to understand why they were having vision problems.

My point is that Ted, and similar names (even the despised Monday), are created with inherent personality traits that allow employees, customers, and investors to embrace the new identity more quickly. It's an easier sell to an audience because you can get right to the brand without having to start explaining how each syllable reflects a different area of the business model. United shouldn't bother explaining the origins of the Ted name. Just get on with showing us what it is.

On Dec.08.2003 at 08:12 PM
Armin’s comment is:

Adding boobs was a no-brainer Marian; while retainging the brand equity in the flat behind was very important we ultimately decided to add a bit more junk in the trunk as well. It's a new era in flying, ya' know?


Marian baited me, these macho jokes are her fault.

On Dec.08.2003 at 08:14 PM
jonsel’s comment is:

That RyanAir thing is just amazing! Are they a public company? I can't believe shareholders would put up with the expense of redoing their planes, simply to add a little nip/tuck to the logo. Maybe they are just phasing this in as they receive new planes? That makes a little more sense. But only a little.

On Dec.08.2003 at 08:28 PM
Mr. Jones’s comment is:

Hmmmm, I don't love it but I don't completely hate it either. Maybe that's what United was going for? A lack-luster, middle or the road solution. I agree that they totally ripped off the FedEx look. Isn't there an unwritten rule that boats and planes are named after women?

For some reason I keep thinking that the stewardesses (er, flight attendants) will all be men on an airline called Ted.

Wasn't a character in the movie Airplane named Ted?

"Thank you for flying Ted."

On Dec.08.2003 at 09:19 PM
Tan’s comment is:

Yes, Ted Styker was the character's name. Roger, Roger. Vector, Victor...I love that movie.

Does anyone lament the loss of service in flying? It used to be a big deal when I was younger. There was a romance to flying, even if it was a short commuter flight to visit family. Airlines like PanAm used to hand out bags to passengers. Now, it's a horrid, detestable chore--comparable to a busride to Tijuana. Few see it as a luxury anymore.

Why does an airline like Ted need to exist? Do we really need to brand a jumbo jet into a giant taxi? Budget airlines like these seem to me to be a further devaluation of flying, and a knee-jerk response to the market, rather than a longer-term solution for the ailing industry.

I give it 5 years, max.

On Dec.08.2003 at 09:40 PM
jonsel’s comment is:

Does anyone lament the loss of service in flying?

This is my biggest pet peeve with airlines. They have converted themselves into big flying taxis while pretending to give the illusion that they sell some sort of magical experience. Whooey. Either bring back the service level which made flying unique, or change the business model. I'm ok with either, frankly. I'd just prefer them to commit, so they can focus their spending in the right area.

On Dec.08.2003 at 10:20 PM
Ben’s comment is:

I haven't quite decided whether I like the name or not, but ever since I thought of it as slang for United (like 'tude is short for attitude, 'ted is short for United) I've warmed to it. It's very similar to the way stadium and arena names get shortened by the populous/media (The Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul is known as "The X", the Molson Centre in Montreal is known as "The Keg", Bank One Ballpark is known as "BOB"... in fact, Turner Field in Atlanta is known as "The Ted") which immediately makes it more familiar and personable.

On Dec.09.2003 at 11:36 AM
Josh ’s comment is:

From my student perspective I think the name is clever. I wouldn't go to the lengths of Igor and say it was evocative, but usable and unique.

There really is a lack of service on airlines these days, but certain airlines I expect less from.

When I flew to Europe last year on IcelandAir, I wasn't blown away by the service(as well as with many domestic carriers)and I felt like it was a burdon for them to get me another orange juice or 7up. All of this grief for $652 of my money.

Then when I flew on RyanAir in Europe, I thought it was great. I don't get any of the "service" I get with my expensive flight but the flight cost me a total of 15 euros from Frankfurt to Bologna(Italy). For 15 euros I would sit on a bucket. as long as the plane was safe.

On Dec.09.2003 at 01:30 PM
Armin’s comment is:

> Does anyone lament the loss of service in flying? It used to be a big deal when I was younger.

Actually, I don't. I just want to get from one place to the other. I am glad they took the glamour out of flying, I mean who wants to dress up for flying? I want to put on jeans, a t-shirt, frickin' flip-flops and be comfortable for the duration of the flight. I don't mind the bad service because I don't expect anything from flight attendants anymore. You wan't a cookie? Buy one before getting on the plane. You want a pillow? As soon as you board the plane snatch the first one you see 'cause that's all you are getting. If only prices matched the downward spiral of service.

On Dec.09.2003 at 03:06 PM
Darrel’s comment is:

Ugh. The xcel center. Every time I try to find its web site I'm always typing and retyping the name in google...Exel? Xel? Excel? Eccel? Crap.

Creative spellings are cute visually but a PITA when someone is actually trying to find you.

On Dec.09.2003 at 03:36 PM
Armin’s comment is:

> Creative spellings are cute visually

You mean like PITA?

On Dec.09.2003 at 03:55 PM
Ben’s comment is:

I guess that might prove a point on why not to name your company in an odd manner. A test in the naming process should be asking 100 people to spell the name that they hear, because later on in life they'll probably need to know (or they'll be signing their checks to the wrong name, or searching for them and not finding them.

I'm sure it's somewhat maddening/disheartening to someone at Xcel Energy that they are getting things addressed and paid to "Excel" or "Accel" or whatever. I had the same problem with a previous car of mine (Nissan Xterra). If I hadn't corrected the DMV employee's spelling, something bad could have happened down the line with my registration or something.

On Dec.10.2003 at 09:53 AM
Darrel’s comment is:

You mean like PITA?

No, that'd be an acronym for a common phrase. Not quite the same thing.

IMHO, of course. ;o)

On Dec.10.2003 at 10:29 AM
Val’s comment is:

Speaking of which...

Did anyone else hear the Design for the Real World piece on

Studio 360 last week? Michael Bierut talks about the design of airline logos. It's more about the general design of airline logos-namely Pan Am. Interesting.

On Dec.10.2003 at 11:06 AM
Tan’s comment is:

> Actually, I don't. I just want to get from one place to the other. I am glad they took the glamour out of flying, I mean who wants to dress up for flying?...I don't mind the bad service because I don't expect anything from flight attendants anymore. If only prices matched the downward spiral of service.

So what you're saying Armin, is that you're perfectly happy to get treated like shit in a can, just because you want to wear flip-flops when you fly.

So why stop there? Why stay at a nice hotel, when you can stay at the YMCA and walk around in a fucking bathrobe and slippers whenever you want? Or any number of everyday service for that matter.

Just because something is a necessary service (like commuting by air) doesn't mean that customers have to endure a loss of dignity or lower their experience expectations. I think that's exactly what people have done with flying -- so lo and behold, brand loyalty and customer retention have also become a thing of the past for airlines.

On Dec.10.2003 at 01:23 PM
Jose Nieto’s comment is:

I don't mind the bad service because I don't expect anything from flight attendants anymore.

Just because something is a necessary service (like commuting by air) doesn't mean that customers have to endure a loss of dignity or lower their experience expectations.

There's a difference, I think, betwen frills and dignity. On a short flight I can easily do without a full meal, etc., but I still want to be treated like a human being.

On longer flights, though, the frills are a most. The difference between Singapore Airlines and Northwest Airlines on a flight to Southeast Asia is stark; I would definitely pay extra to go with SA. (Even their flight attendant's uniforms are special...)

On Dec.11.2003 at 12:38 PM
Sarah B.’s comment is:

Umm.. not so sure if I am into this, and I think they should name all the planes, unique names - like hurricanes and tropical storms - so comforting!

Honestly though, if they do name one - shouldnt they name them all?

On Dec.12.2003 at 12:52 PM
brett’s comment is:

Admittedly, United suffers from a lack of imagination, as do most of the domestic legacy carriers (AA, NW, CO, DL). But give the new management credit for doing something un-United: choosing a name that has the potential to be warm, friendly, personable and different. When was the last time anyone used those words to describe anything associated with United, let alone the air industry?

You're right. They could have just lowered United's fares and called it a day. But then that wasn't the brief we were given. Now it's up to United to prove the personality behind the name. They say they're up to it. And believe me, we're all waiting to see if it's true.

Finally, for the naysayers among you, you've got to be able to do better than 'United without you and I', 'Ted Bundy,' or 'It sounds like dead'...The crap they're talking on the frequent flyer message boards would put you to shame! And we're supposed to be the creative ones!

See you onboard!

On Dec.12.2003 at 08:59 PM