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United and Continental Airlines Merged Logos

For anyone who follows the world of branding and is a frequent flyer of United Airlines and/or Continental Airlines, a major step in their rebranding as a result of their merger has begun with the launch of “Customer Day One”.

The most noticeable customer-facing change resulting from the merger is their new logo.

Prior the merger, the below logo was used by United Airlines:

And previously, the below logo was used by Continental Airlines:

Now, the newly merged airline from the customer’s perspective is called “United” and has the below¬† logo:

It doesn’t take a Sam Spade to realize that while keeping the United name, they brought over the icon from Continental.

While not bad by any means, especially when the newly merged company’s logo seems to share equal weight from their legacy brands (United’s name, Continentals icon), it begs the question: if you’re going to change the logo and undertake a new branding effort to represent the new airline, why not at least incorporate a new identity altogether.

I’m sure many dollars were spent towards branding teams and focus groups. Inevitably, it could be safely assumed that the brand equity represented in the United name and the Continental icon proved to be the winning formula, but if you’re going to be changing things anyway, why not rebrand all the way with a new icon, representing the newly merged airline and create a new symbol for an airline representing stability in an industry strife with difficulties.

It reminds me of the old Bank of America and Nation Bank merger. Prior to the merger, Bank of America was a major west coast bank with the below logo:

While Nations Bank was a powerhouse on the east coast with the below logo:

The newly merged, coast to coast bank had the “new” name of Bank of America, with the below new logo:


Again, we can assume many dollars were put toward hiring a branding agency that resulted in choosing the newly formed company to be called Bank of America (a no brainer), but instead of keeping the old “BA” icon, they adopted a new icon altogether. Despite that the “flag” icon for the new company looking like it belongs to a textile company instead of a bank, at least they realized that if they are going to be creating a new bank, it might as well have a fresh look as well.

Now don’t get me wrong. The new United logo with the Continental icon is a good logo and harkens the past for both, but on the surface, it does seem like a lost opportunity to shed the difficulties that the entire airline industry has experienced, and create a new look for the new airline.

7 Responses to United and Continental Airlines Merged Logos

  1. andrew says:

    1997: United fails in its United Rising brand campaign
    2004: Fallon Worldwide redoes the logo (from the 1997 campaign) as part of another branding campaign. Any data on how that went?

    Guess it’s been 7 years.

  2. Kevin Bergin says:

    Everything about that logo merger irks me. White space, logo size, and where did this new blue come from?

  3. eric Block says:

    Michael Beirut and the gang at Pentagram did brilliant design work for United in the late ’90s. Such a shame to reduce everything to corporate political “cut and paste”.

  4. RJ says:

    I’m sure the cost of repainting the entire fleet was a factor in this lame cop out.

  5. carl says:

    saul bass must be barfing in his grave

  6. Christopher M. says:

    I had the exact same example thought — how United’s merger identity should’ve been like the NB/BoA merger. This is a missed opportunity that will take years to correct.

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