Alaska Airlines

Brand Strategy, Visual and Verbal Expression

Alaska Airlines is special. For more than 80 years, they’ve been building a loyal following in the Pacific Northwest by combining award-winning performance with caring customer service. However, the way they showed up in a highly competitive market didn’t do justice to their outstanding reputation and experience—and more than that, it held them back from receiving the credit and national exposure they deserve.
Revealing the soul of the brand.
Working in close collaboration with Alaska, we created a forward-looking strategy and a striking, heartfelt expression. From there, we transformed the way flyers interact with the brand by redesigning everything from the airplane livery to bag tags. Alaska Airlines now has a brand that fully, and finally, reflects the exceptional work of its employees, and the remarkable experiences they create for customers every day.
“Collaboration almost doesn’t do it justice.
This was a true partnership. Our new brand expression keeps the magic of what makes us locally loved and puts us on a national stage.”
Sangita Woerner, VP Marketing at Alaska Airlines

Unlocking the magic.

We started by honing in on the secret behind Alaska’s success and defining what makes the airline so loved, then translating it into a long-term strategy—one that resonates emotionally with employees and customers, provides direction and inspiration for creative expression, and creates strong focus for decision-making going forward.

Turning a face into a symbol.

At the heart of the magic was a face that first appeared on an Alaska Airlines tail in 1972. To some, there was something about him that connected to the spirit of the airline; to many, though, he’s been a source of mystery, confusion and speculation. For us, exploring his meaning and defining his role was the crucial first step in turning him into a powerful symbol.
By re-drawing him as a proud, welcoming presence of wisdom, warmth, and care, the smiling Eskimo and his colorful energy now represent the soul of the airline wherever and whenever Alaska interacts with flyers.

Performance with care.

Alaska has a unique ability to combine high-performing operations with thoughtful, caring service. Creating brand elements that balanced both professionalism and humanity was essential.
We harnessed the energy surrounding the Eskimo into a vibrant, colorful pattern that’s consistently recognizable without being rigid, formulaic or corporate. The refreshed wordmark retains the quirky personality of the previous identity, but now signs off with more legibility, precision, and confidence.

A thoughtful journey, from beginning to end.

As we rethought each of the diverse touchpoints throughout the flyer’s journey, we considered both Alaska’s presence and the individual’s needs—showing up boldly when travelers need guidance or assurance, and more subtly when they’re ready to engage and interact. Our awareness of the flyer’s state of mind and changing priorities comes through in mindful shifts in tone of voice, photography use, graphic expression, structural design, and material choice. The result is a cohesive experience that feels consistent and strong, but also helpful and understanding.

Sharing the secret.

We created a launch microsite to proudly introduce a broader audience to the new Alaska story. Always with a flyer’s perspective in mind, the site takes us on a literal journey from the air to the ground, beginning with the brand’s purest expression—the new plane flying proudly in the sky. The descent tells the story of the brand, from its accolades and love letters to the details of its unparalleled customer experience.