Wednesday, April 24, 2019

The Real Problem with the new United Livery

I could start by saying, "I don't like it," and though it would be true, it has very little to do with the real problem facing the new United Livery.

According the United's Hub Website:
With an extensive route network of 355 destinations, we’re passionate about everything the globe represents. We proudly portray our global reach and intention to span all cultures through this latest iteration of our livery — from the globe on the tail all the way through our shared purpose emblazoned near the nose: “Connecting people. Uniting the world.”

That's great and all, but the same could be said for this livery design (minus the shared purpose):

Oscar said that this is "an evolution, not a revolution."  He was right.  They modified the same 1990's design that Continental had for many years prior to the merger.

Let's look at the word "revolution." In the dictionary we find this: a forcible overthrow of a government or social order, in favor of a new system.  Further defined as this: a dramatic and wide-reaching change in the way something works or is organized or in people's ideas about it.

It's funny to me that Oscar chose to say that it's not a revolution, when that is exactly what it needed.  Here's why: The Culture surrounding United needs a dramatic and wide-reaching change.

Let's all go back a few years to the merger (hence why I included that first announced merger livery design). United people despised the Globe and Continental people hated the Tulip. Even though they said that they hated one brand or the other, it was actually a much deeper issue.  People hate change, myself included. And each company's culture was very unique -- unique to the point that they clashed. The Tulip and the Globe are simply the objects that many people have associated with a frustration from the past.

Last night, as the new livery was leaked, we began to see a resurgence of "bring back the tulip!" and "this will destroy Continental's legacy!" This new livery has sparked a new culture war from the UA/CO merger days. 

Sure, it's easy to say, "but if you did something new, everyone would hate it."  Which is true.  It's also the point.  It would be something that everyone would have in common.  People on both sides would agree, "I wish it wasn't that."  And, as we saw with the American livery, people learned to love it. 

The Globe and the Tulip are just symbols, but they are symbols of frustration.  United, in my opinion, had the opportunity to change the symbol and really do something amazing.  Instead we got a Euro White and Blue abomination.  (Okay, to be fair, it's not that bad, but I did have a lot higher hopes and was throughly disappointed.)

Oscar has to find a way to ACTUALLY unite the world, and it starts by dramatically changing people's view of United.  I read another blog today that "United shouldn't waste their time with paint, but should actually invest in their product."  And the problem is, United IS investing in their product.  From the new Polaris brand, to free inflight TV, to better food options, to all of the things that they keep doing to make their product better. 

But, the lingering symbols and frustration drive people to focus on the negative and their memories.  So, instead of seeing a beautiful new livery, we see a fresh coat of paint on a doctor-beating, guitar-destroying pig. 

In the end, I only have two actual issues with the new livery: 1. I hate the winglets (I wish they had a design), and 2. the globe looks unfinished to me.  But, more than that, I believe that this livery just continues to push the rough merger back in to the light.  I'm done.  I'll become United's biggest fan again.

But, hey, I'm just some guy who likes to look at airplanes, so what do I know?