By Nina J P Evans

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Kulula Airline Rebranding

This morning on a brilliant design blog I saw this newly designed info-graphic created by Kulula’s in-house creative team. For South Africa's Kulula airline. The green plane shows 101 interesting facts about the plane you possibly didn’t know.

Apart from the colour, the thing that instinctively hit me—is that in my mind—is how quickly it turned something that was a quirky, fun idea into something somewhat ill-considered and very questionably appropriate! Fear of flying is a common psychological problem among travelers. The info-graphics with a font size so big that I can’t calculate (I’d be surprised if there’s space enough to cover anywhere near 101 facts, even on a 737 passenger jet) the whole thing is ridiculous.

The most obvious association with that number is George Orwell’s brilliantly nightmarish dystopian novel Nineteen Eight-Four, first published in 1949. In room 101 a prisoner is subjected to his or her worst fear or phobia, and that’s why’s it’s so scary, it’s a different treatment depending upon the individuals’ inner fears. The idea of being locked up in the air in a craft titled ‘Flying 101’ dose not inspire much confidence. Likely the designer got the idea from an infographic kind of thing, I don't feel that its appropriate on a commercial vehicle, in a pub quiz sure! Now more than ever all sorts of dangers are associated with flying, risks include environmental volcanic ash clouds and the unforgettable airline terrorist attacks. People have good reason to suffer a genuine phobia from flying, or am I being too paranoid? Is bad publicity good publicity? 

Kulula airlines obviously wanted something very daring, eye catching and playfully cool. Graphic design can deliver clever and witty solutions and a plane is an excellent vehicle for showcasing graphic arts. All these other prominent and competitive brands from cars to mobile phones compete using number associations such as: Peugeot 206, 406, 407, Levis® 501’s and 3™ Mobile. I wonder if this was a missed opportunity for Kulula Airlines?

On Wiki Surprisingly, I found other transport using 101 (number) as listed, though combined with a combination of letters before the number is not quite the same:
  • Land Rover 101 Forward Control - vehicle produced for the British Army
  • STS-101 Space Shuttle Atlantis mission launched May 19, 2000
  • U.S Route 101 runs from California to Washington
  • DBAG Class 101 is a class of German electric locomotives
  • The R101, a British airship, which crashed in 1930
  • 101 series, a Japanese commuter train type
In films interestingly the 101 number is used somewhat subliminally to evoke fear: The Terminator and in Terminator 2,  a T-800 Model 101. This makes perfect sense, as it plays on our imaginations in a thought provoking manner.

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