The International Airport Schiphol in the Netherlands is one of the better airports in the world, which is my experience as a traveller. However, the new logo of Schiphol – work of dBOD Amsterdam office in association with the brand management of the airport – was not entertained favourably in the creative world (see Visual Brand Experience Blog). All good intentions of the people involved in spite.
Why the new logo is not so well approved? Could it be the used colours and shape? Let us put the logo through a genetic semantic analysis.
Schiphol logo, old and new.
We see two main colours used namely blue and white. In our study into universal meaning we have proven that colour combinations are important carriers of emotion, and that the order in which the two colours appear is fundamental. Here is chosen for the blue-on-white order, where the blue type is placed on a white background.
Which message does the airport wants to carry out? In the meagre task description which I was able to find in the article “Schiphol van bont naar blauw” (Schiphol from colourful to blue) by Viveka Van De Vliet (AdFormatie 2 – 14 January 2010) an emotional message is nowhere postulated. They talk about the need to improve the Schiphol’s brand position. But what implies that brand exactly? What is the ‘image’ that Schiphol radiates? What is the affective value? That has been apparently overlooked.
By placing blue above white one says among other things the following:
- Industry, all heavy industries, big factories where goods, chemicals or raw materials are produced.
- Heavy work, hard labour, the blue-on-white combination is often retrieved concerning hard and harsh labour.
- The mining industry, i.e. exploration of ores, minerals and raw materials.
- Descend in the pit. The work of miners and gnomes.
- To lie down, rest, not take part. In publicity for matresses, beach chairs and in holiday imaging.
Logo Crédit à l’industrie (Loans for the industry) ex Belgium bank,. Logo The Factory First Baptist Church Willis. The Candle Factory logo by StefanMorgan. Logo for the Ankara Chamber of Industry Turkey.
Publication of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry Japan.
2. Heavy work, hard labour, blue-on-white combination in the imaging of some interim offices.
Be-twin. BIK. “I want, will find, work” public leaflet Belgium.
Gregg Interim, “I am at work”. The working man in blue outfit.
Blue-white stripes on prison outfits in prisons and work camps. Impression of hard labour camp Köningsgraben during WWII. ( c. University of South Florida).
The shovel as a symbol of that hard labour. The shovel of EDS just digs.
All heavy professions such as that of a miner. A miner and a message from Pitman, Historical coal mining.
A farmer. Agrarian Newspaper online, painting of a farmer and his wife.
A sailor. Zeeman (sailor), logo for a clothing and household shop.
3. The mining industry.
Miner. Gitennes Exploration. Mineral Care, draw the minerals from down the hole to the surface.
The gnomes who dig up coals, minerals and … plants.
4. Descend in the pit. “If you compare this with the power of for example the airport of Dubai, Schiphol seems to have a dark vision on the future” says blogger Joris from SubMedia.
The miner at work in the pit. Romans going down the hole.
The Hole, movieposter.
5. To lie down, rest, not take part, to retrieve in publicity for mattresses.
Aerosleep, Relyon, Beka.
The body bearing is lying down. Blue-white stripes on pyamas and matresses. “I don’t want to go to bed”, bookcover. Silentnight Beds. Cartoon.
Lying down and not able to move. “Afraid to get hooked on barbiturates?” Preventive Association Belgium.
In holiday imaging: the hammock, the beach chair. Holiday leaflet “The blue trunk for a carefree holiday”. Secret Ravine Estates: holiday resort logo.
There can be no discussion concerning the colour combination. Blue is placed here explicitly above white. That is confirmed by the light grey shape on the background. The light grey colour is experienced as white and the used shapes, the little cubes, have semantically the same emotional value as the white colour has (concerning the shape, the stripes and the type, more in next blog). In the article from AdFormatie is only spoken of the blue colour, but that is exactly the mistake one makes, namely not realizing that you are working with colour combinations. A more correct title for the article should have been: “Schiphol from red-on-blue to blue-on-white”.
There is little to defend the blue-on-white combination in relation to airport services. Schiphol produces no goods or raw materials and is as such not an ‘industry’. The feeling of hard or heavy labour should not be aroused within an airport context, to my opninion. Neither have mattresses and beach chairs something in common with airports. The nearest use of that image is in the world of travel agencies.
This new logo in blue-on-white is a perfect example of a missed message. The keyword ‘airport’ is not supported by the used colour combination, thus placing the observer, the receiver of the message, in a state of confusion.