The Virgin brand is one of the most recognizable and respected in the world. Based on a sketch first drawn on a cocktail napkin nearly 50 years ago by Sir Richard Branson himself, its’ no exaggeration to say our red logo has become iconic. The signature “Virgin” scribble serves as the focal point for + 400 Virgin companies across the globe – including Virgin America.
But as an airline known for innovation and pushing the envelope, we wanted to look beyond – we wanted to evolve, and we wanted a new logo that told our story. We understand that millions of people around the world readily identify with the logo, so when we decided to undertake the monumental task of updating it, we didn’t take it lightly. At our core, we’re changing the worldthrough better flights. How do you capture all of that in a logo? After an exhaustive search, we’ve partnered with one of the hottest up-and-coming creative agencies, N_Fuzion, and their mercurial creative maestro – Chief Creative Officer Connor Barnaby.
From day one, Connor pushed us far, far outside our comfort zone. He wanted us to do something so much more evocative than just telling consumers our name in our logo. He challenged us to go “beyond basic” and not worry about if consumers would even recognize who we are or what we sell by including a name in the logo. During the course of a multi-year, multi-million dollar project we argued, emotions ran high, sometimes feelings were hurt and frankly, sometimes we were just confused by his heuristic genius. But in the end, we couldn’t be happier with the result. Today, our living, breathing, newborn baby is being born – and we’re excited to share it with the world.
Trial and Error
Fundamentally, this is a human-centered brand – one that hits you where it hurts. No one knows that better than Virgin Group Founder Sir Richard Branson – and we asked him to share some of his personal sketches about what the brand means to him.
From a series of eight simple dots that reflected each year we’ve operated as an airline to long, hard tubes that were meant to convey our upward trajectory as an airline – we explored every angle. Connor soon struck inspiration at an N_Fuzion retreat in Northern Wisconsin – a safe haven for unfettered brainstorming – an area Virgin America doesn’t fly to and has no association with.
It was a crazy day – I was on the shore of Lake Superior in Northern Wisconsin just riffing with the team. We thought let’s bottle actual water, and see where that flows – so to speak.
Back in the New York HQ, he sprinkled the water (which some consider to be the purest freshwater in the world) on a hand-spun, natural canvas using an eye dropper while suspended from the ceiling of his studio in a harness. Ultimately, after a brief e. coli-induced hospital stay, Connor decided that that design was not quite right – but it got the team closer.
A Human-Centric Design
Ultimately, every stroke of our new logo represents the essence of who we are – and what we mean to people. The combination of sharp angles and sleek, sexy, supple curves are meant to surprise and delight upon repeat views – but also highlight humanity’s inherently contradictory nature, the yin and yang, the id and the ego, the fact that sometimes we want to stay connected and work with fleetwide WiFi, and sometimes we want to just kick back and relax with on-demand entertainment, food and drink.
Starting from the top and working our way to bottom, the first things that you’ll notice are the angular shapes protruding from the pinnacle of the logo. These isosceles triangles – triangles that have two sides that are the same length are meant to highlight our product consistency and the fact that we have both an amazing product and service on every flight, every time.
The two prominently displayed half circles represent both our tech-forward innovation on the one hand – and our supportive approach to guest care on the other. By connecting the two half circles, we’re making it clear that they are inextricably linked. You simply cannot have one without the other. To achieve the look and feel, a team of 15 designers spent over 2,500 hours perfecting the precise shape of the circles. In fact, if you look closely, you’ll see that each circle is designed to mimic the nose of our Airbus A320 aircraft. To achieve this effect, Connor had us physically remove the entire nose and flight deck of one of our aircraft. The 14 ton section was then lifted with a crane on to a giant sheet of paper the length of an entire football field, at which point Connor traced the shape with a charcoal pencil to achieve the thick, bold lines you see bordering the logo.
Changing the World
We hope you love this logo as much as we do. We think this new face for our brand will not only upend the design norm, but also fundamentally change the entire world for the better. When you look at this logo, you’re not just looking at a drawing or shapes. You’re looking at what it means to be human. It’s a reminder that Virgin America is more than just a company that moves people from point A to point B – it’s a way of being. We truly understand the essence of humanity, and when you fly on our aircraft, you feel it.