Color is often an underutilized asset in an airline’s toolkit. This asset can make an impact with passengers, which is becoming much harder to do in an ultra-competitive environment. Oftentimes, color’s impact is subtle, like the use of accents to help create a narrative that is compelling and enduring. Sometimes color’s impact can be more daring, which can create a sense of dynamism in an aircraft interior. Depending on its usage, color can be one of the best ways to bring an airline’s brand to life and act as the introduction to a distinguishable brand story. There is an opportunity within aviation to also use color as an important binding piece, which holds interior design elements together. Whether it’s the safety and security of blue or the natural feeling of green, color represents a way that airlines can stand apart and truly enhance the customer experience.
“Color is immediate. It's quickly noticed and instantaneously conveys a feeling.”
We can think of an aircraft interior as a blank canvas. There is an opportunity to use this canvas to define the overall passenger experience, so all the pieces must work together harmoniously while considering the needs and goals of the airline. The choice of an interior color is led by three factors:
- Longevity: A typical interior design program should last 6-7 years or up to a decade. It’s important to choose colors that won’t date quickly.
- Foundation: Airlines must ask themselves if the chosen color can act as a platform for other products that will be added later. The integration of elements must be driven by the color and the desired customer experience strategy.
- Brand: An airline’s brand color helps communicate the promise they are making to customers, the experience that tells their unique story and the identity that defines their most memorable characteristics.
“Color should help create an immediate positive impact, signaling the uniqueness of the airline”
We can think about the brand color palette as the roadmap to the feeling you want to convey. For example, Allegiant Air uses blue, brown, and yellow to convey a sense of joy. Virgin uses red to convey a sense of romance or the glamour of travel. When you combine these feelings with texture, trim and finish, the brand personality comes to life. This can be critically important for an airline that is looking to capture a passenger’s imagination or change negative perceptions from “stuffy or dated” to “contemporary and stylish.” Color is an important part of the narrative that ultimately rounds out the brand’s story and its business goals.
“Putting in a little extra thought about the use of color in your on-board experience can only result in a deeper, more effective, and more differentiated customer relationship.”
It's important to understand that your color choices can be delicate or subtle to accomplish this, and don’t necessarily have to be too “big or dramatic” to have a positive impact. Most airlines leverage blue to create a feeling of safety, security, calm, order, strength, trust, and precision. Your cabin interior represents the most important element of the guest experience and is the conduit to an intimate connection with your passengers. This stretches across cultures, ages, and flyer types. If your goal is to place the customer at the center of your experience, and you’re committed to fulfill your promise to them, you have no other choice but to use complementary colors that will help fulfill the brand promise and link all aspects of the experience together.
Tapis and Ultrafabrics have had a strategic partnership for more than 30 years. Ultrafabrics is the mill, and builds the product and Tapis is a Leading Aviation Interior Solution provider. Our work together fuses creativity, instinct, imagination, rationality, and innovation. We often call it a creative approach to problem solving; always with the goal of maximizing passenger comfort, durability, weight savings and sustainability.
Paul Wylde is the Founder, CEO, and Creative Director of paulwylde LLC - an award-winning boutique brand, innovation, design, and communications consultancy that has worked extensively with airlines. His clients include Beond, Bermudair, Copa Airlines, Amtrak, HondaJet, JSX, Delta Air Lines, JetBlue, Hawaiian Airlines, Air Canada, Hilton Worldwide, and Alaska Airlines.