Thursday, February 12th, 2015

Newly Renamed Airport Has New Logo Masquerading As Brand

City of Wichita Attempts To Grow Reputation With Halo Of Well-Known Brand

Nearly one year ago the city of Wichita, Kansas, approved a name change for its airport, which is currently undergoing a transformation with a soon to be opened new airport terminal.  

Wichita Mid-Continent Airport is now Wichita Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport. 

With the new terminal and new name has come a new logo, yes, dressed up as new brand.

The airport's branding agency [read "logo agency"], Sullivan Higdon & Sink, partnered with the airport to create its new brand identity, or so they say.

Here's the release, with the oh so predictable, and labored, explanation:

The new Airport logo contains a dominant 'W' for Wichita and a subtle 'E' for Eisenhower, both housed uniquely in a wing-like form. The distinct geometric nature of the symbol was inspired by the modern architecture of the new terminal, while a custom-type treatment was developed to correspond with the curvilinear nuances of the symbol.

"The blue and green logo colors were selected to embrace the modern and vibrant progress we're experiencing at the airport and in Wichita," said airport director, Victor White. "The logo is modern and confident, yet friendly and inviting, much like our community."

Now ask yourself and be honest, do you truly understand this gibberish?

Of course you don't.

It's because the new logo cannot fly on its own, prompting a marketingspeak explanation in an attempt to sell it. Rather than modern and confident, the design is dated and meek, presented in a kaliedescope of components desperately void of friendly invitation, creating a storytelling tool with no wind beneath its wing.

Most importantly, it ignores the obvious, with a ginormous monogram pompadour thingee overpowering the most important component of the airport's new storytelling opportunity.


The name Eisenhower, and the reputation equity of its owner, is by far the most valuable component to this entry-point storytelling opportunity. Moreso than the name Wichita and any attempt at a multi-colored flying albatross.

It's an opportunity to re-introduce the City of Wichita—and its gleaming new airport—to the nation and world while snapping stereotypes about the place to achieve desired results, including ultimately the framing of an unlike anywhere else in the world experience.

It's an opportunity blown.

Former U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower earned a golden reputation as commander-in-chief of the Allied Forces during World War II, and as the 34th President of the United States. A reputation that has improved even more over time.

Born and raised in Abilene, a town some 90 miles away from Wichita, Eisenhower is a name recognized worldwide. He was long ago proudly claimed as a favorite son of his native state, Kansas.

The City of Wichita claimed the general's name to tap into his reputation equity, in hopes the city's reputation might benefit from the Eisenhower halo. 

Yet the new airport logo demotes Eisenhower from commanding organizing principle by which to engage opportunity audiences, so that a larger, cliche-cracking, unforgettable story may be told, to visual afterthought.


Not only that, but contrary to the cheerleading marketingspeak Wichita airport's decision-makers use in an attempt to claim their new mark is unique, its not.

For example, Adrian Mironescu, a designer with WIRON, previously created a logo on behalf of his client, emailwing, using an approach similar to that of Wichita airport's logo agency. [Hat tip to Logo Lounge, subscription required, where you may search for other examples.]  

The solution?

For Wichita's airport decision-makers, take a step back and start over. 

You want your place, your experience and yes, your cause, to add up to something.

Something meaningful. Something big.

Achieving BIG requires leading with the dream your place satisfies, rather than doing what so many others do, which is focusing on the logic and function of your place.

Create an entry-point story capable of easy understanding both verbally and visually, one resulting in Eisenhower Airport indelibility, so yours may serve as an effective introduction to your airport and community, permitting those who don't know you—or think they know you—to actually care about you. And make your place the obvious choice for the dream you satisfy. 

Mastering this shift—from logic to dream—answers this question:

What do you allow people to experience, that is otherwise unavailable anywhere in the world?

Your answer shapes place indelibility, so vital for reputation—and earnings—growth.

Leaders seeking market success find the answer.

Because long after the shout of traditional advertising and PR is forgotten, your unique place and experience is remembered.

So those of you considered the braintrust of Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport, which just happens to located in the City of Wichita, get to work. Rather than relying on simply saying you are building a brand, actually do it. Elevate your thinking to nourish a valuable business and civic asset so its reputation equity may grow, rather than settling on an airless logo.

Those you represent deserve far better.

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