Working with a legacy; new liveries, re-branding and the refresh

Cathay Pacific has unveiled a subtle change to its aircraft livery that chief executive Ivan Chu says “represents the beginning of a new era” for the Hong Kong-based aviation powerhouse. Cathay says the livery represented a “timeless, yet contemporary, elegance” that blended the airline’s Asian roots with a global outlook. Chu told guests at the official unveiling the updated livery was the latest initiative to “refresh” the airline’s brand identity over the past year which in addition to a new logo has also included new-look premium lounges both at its Hong Kong hub and in foreign ports, as well as a new website and mobile app. “We are very happy and proud to unveil our new aircraft livery which represents our journey into the future and also celebrates the many great things we have achieved over the past seven decades as the home carrier of Hong Kong,” Chu said. “This new look is the latest – and most significant – development in our ongoing efforts to improve the overall customer experience at Cathay Pacific. It is also a highly visible representation of the huge investments we are making in new aircraft and products as part of our ongoing commitment to build Hong Kong’s position as an international aviation hub”. The new livery comprises three key design elements: the incorporation of the updated and streamlined brushwing; a simplification of the colour palette to Cathay Pacific green, grey, and white; and a more prominent display of the Cathay Pacific wordmark and brushwing. These updates are most evident on three areas of the aircraft: the nose, the fuselage, and the tail.

Across the Taiwan Strait from the buzz of Cathay’s new look; an elegant clean livery for EVA, and a contrast to Dynasty’s pretty colors. The play on green and the hint of orange sure impresses.

Taiwanese carrier EVA Air has revealed its updated livery on a new Boeing 777-300ER that was handed over on 11 November. The updated livery retains parent company Evergreen Group’s compass design, while simplifying the tail colours. It also adds more movement to the lower portion of the aircraft’s fuselage.

According to the airline’s President, Austin Cheng, “The new corporate identity retains the original compass design, inherited from the logotype of Evergreen Group, and which symbolizes the airline’s seamless network and services. Today, we unveiled a new livery design to herald our continuing commitment to service innovation. We aim to give our passengers flying experiences that are even more comfortable and enjoyable, and that include fun and entertainment along the way.”  The simplified tail design makes the compass as the focal point for the EVA Air brand, while representing its commitment to provide a top quality service and safe flights.

The Taiwan-based carrier relies on the 777-300ER as the mainstay of its fleet, which happens to be the world’s 8th largest and the 4th largest in Asia of the type. “EVA was a launch customer for the 777-300ER in 2005, and the aircraft has become the backbone of our long-haul fleet. By the end of 2017, we will be operating more than 30 Boeing 777-300ERs,” said EVA Chairman K.W. Chang. Interestingly, the airline operates 65 aircraft, including 37 Boeing jetliners. The last month, the airline announced an order for two additional 777-300ERs, plus up to 24 787-10 Dreamliners. Currently, EVA Airways has unfilled orders for 14 777-300ERs and five 777 freighters, both direct purchased and leased.


Company branding is the most efficient way to show potential customers what your business is about. It is reflected visually via the logo and company design elements as well as through verbiage in marketing materials, slogans and informational copy. According to Fast Company magazine, “The brand is a promise of the value you’ll receive”. Branding is fundamental. Branding is basic. Branding is essential. Building brands builds incredible value for companies and corporations.

The Asia Pacific airlines have seen major changes in their overall branding, with major livery news recently and over the years as follows. All the points below highlight the need for keeping the legacy of an airline alive, to keep its history, to seamlessly streamline the brand across all forms of exposure, and to make and exfoliate the business and what it encompasses:

  • Return or recognition of older historical liveries (Japan Airlines in 2011, going back to their original historic crane from the previous modern livery)
  • Early 2010 saw the rise in special liveries (and even retro liveries) and decals.
  • Simplifying of color scheme and livery (China Eastern)
  • Extensive brand consolidations across the region; keeping the brand of diversified subsidiaries under one roof.
  • Development of modern aircraft like the 787 and A350 with altered structures (hence incompatible with many liveries and cheat-lines)
  • Grey bellies in history books
  • LCC’s looking into simplifying and demonstrating the “no-frills” element of flying
  • Development of the “new feet” on the Qantas “Flying Kangaroo” livery for the unique elevator structure of their A380 aircraft.
  • Virgin Australia brand change to a full service carrier under their transformation.
  • Malaysia Airlines previously under consideration of a new name (after accidents and restructure under Christoph Mueller)  and potentially, a new livery.
  • Overall Full service carriers retaining the classic and premium feel and heritage behind the brand, while working away from the tangible liveries to other areas of customer-exposure.
  • And lastly, liveries that encapsulates and exposes the brand from booking till arrival (and pulls all the way through)

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