July 4, 2017
Switching our logo to the rainbow colours for Pride month was both easy and difficult. Easy because we’re incredibly proud and supportive of our large LGBT+ workforce and everything Pride stands for. Difficult because, well – it’s our logo and as we’re about to find out, you meddle with that at your peril!
Since its design by Gilbert Baker in San Francisco in 1978, the rainbow flag has blazed a trail across the world. It has become a powerful symbol of the LGBT+ community, helping to change attitudes and break down barriers.
At Virgin Atlantic, our culture is one of respect for everyone. This is so deeply embedded in our DNA that it goes without saying. So why did we feel the need to change our logo And what did it take to make this small but significant change?
Our social media expert Jason Betts saw the opportunity to show our support for Pride and everything it stands for. The challenge was to come up with something we could use on our social channels that continued to feel fresh and relevant throughout the whole of Pride month. By creating our rainbow logo, we’re making a clear statement of our commitment to being an inclusive brand. “We’re all about embracing the human spirit and wearing the colours of things we believe in,” says Jason. “Having the rainbow logo is not just showing our support, but also recognising the high proportion of our people and customers who identify as LGBT+. I know it means a lot because I see many of our people sharing the rainbow logo on their own social feeds.”
Having come up with the idea of changing our logo, Jason talked to our brand design manager Nina Jenkins to see if she could make it happen. Nina keeps a careful watch on how our brand is portrayed and sets the rules on use of our logo. Brands are rightly very protective of their visual identity and this was the first time anyone had asked if we could change it (we won’t mention ‘Virgin Shaglantic’ eh, Nina?). She loved the idea and how it reinforces what people expect of us. That we’re open and diverse. That everyone at Virgin Atlantic has permission to be themselves.
“This is now more important than ever,” says Nina. “But for Brand Design ‘best practice’, it’s quite a big deal. Most brands wouldn’t do it. Brand identity has to focus on being consistent and disciplined. But it’s also about knowing when to do the right thing and break the rules well.” Nina worked with Nerys Hoey, one of our designers, to craft the idea and set out a few guidelines to limit its use to the duration of Pride. She then consulted with Virgin Group, who own the Virgin trademark, for the go-ahead.
“We could see the potential to lift the brightness of the colours to be more rainbow-like and radiant and still match the look and feel of the original Pride flag,” said Nerys. To adapt the rainbow for the Virgin Atlantic logo we looked at adding subtle gradients and curving the bands of colour to fit the shape of our tailfin so that the rainbow and tail fin worked together. It was vital that the Virgin script was still clear and legible. We also made sure the rainbow’s red was Virgin red and looked strong at the top of the tail fin to help brand recognition.
The result (below) can be seen on all our social media feeds. Our people and customers love the way it’s become a symbol of our inclusivity and the values we share with the Pride movement.
If you’re in London for the parade this weekend, have a truly fabulous time and keep an eye out for our Pride marchers. We’ve got a stall in Trafalgar Square and there’ll be an opportunity to win flights. Do pop along and say hello.