Shrewd move, or lacking warmth? Designers give their take on Qantas re-brand

Qantas’ unexpected revelation of a new brand identity and logo this week has generated a good deal of conversation and comment.

How the Qantas livery has evolved over the years

How the Qantas livery has evolved over the years

While Qantas’ head of brand Olivia Wirth and the man behind the new brand Stu O’Brien from Houston have given their explanation of the reasons for the changes, Mumbrella approached other notable design thinkers for their thoughts.


Phil McDonald, CEO, Y&R Group Australia and New Zealand.

“I like what Qantas are doing a lot. This is not about a logo – too many people believe a new logo is the answer to re-invention. It’s literally the last thing you do. They have re-invented the experience from the ground up and it’s good. I spend a lot of time with them so I should know!

“This is a nice looking piece of identity design. It’s a refresh and it looks great. Well done Qantas for getting the deal breakers right first and then refreshing their image as a full stop, not the answer to everything.”


Mick Boston, Creative Director, Futurebrand Australia.

“Rebranding a national carrier is a dream project for every designer. The logo you work on gets seen by billions and it’s probably one of the few jobs where your parents understand what you have done. It’s also a chance to help define a nation’s character – or at least amplify the best bits.

“So I know the feeling in the office at Houston when this opportunity landed. I know there would have been a lot of high-fiving in the studio when the brief was presented.

“What Houston have created is in stark contrast to what came before it. Geometric san serif font, simplified icon, a hint of dimensional shading in the kangaroos tail.

“But I can’t help but wonder where’s the Australian charm here? Our national carrier should feel cool, trustworthy and efficient, but shouldn’t it ultimately feel human too? Great brands build an emotional connection with their customers; great airlines reflect the essence of where they come from and they seem to have lost both in this evolution of the brand.

“Perhaps that warmth comes through the experience, but I wish it could be right at the heart of the brand’s design too.”


Simon Bell, executive director strategy, SE Asia Pacific & Japan, Landor.

“Qantas is a strong brand. Whilst its business has experienced tough times, love for the brand has seldom waned.  This re-brand is shrewd.

“Today, all brands must apply agile thinking in the battle to remain lucrative and loved. This change by the Spirit of Australia sets themselves up for their next move. And by associating any change with Marc Newson, their next move presumably has to do with innovation and heavy doses of smart and contemporary design.

“The fact is all aircraft operate at similar heights and speeds, meaning the actual flight is remarkably similar across all brands. The trick is innovating around the peripheries that occur pre and post flight. We watch with keen interest.”


Daniel Stone, director, Principleco. 

“It’s clear that Qantas is undergoing a significant evolution across every area of the business, and it makes sense that they would want to represent this in their brand.

“The new style introduces some really significant improvements – notably the simplified roo tail and grey gradients, which allow a lot of creative flexibility for the brand across different environments.

“One of the most charming elements of the Hulsbosch livery was the sense of motion in the typography – and it will be interesting to see if they’re able to breath life into this more static type.”


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