News / Graphic Design

Behind the “geographically neutral” design of BA’s new sister airline, Level, by Brand Union

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Last month the International Airlines Group, parent company to British Airways, announced the launch of a new, low-cost, long-haul airline called Level. The identity by Brand Union uses what the agency called a “minimalist” approach, using geometric forms, sans serif type and a two-colour palette, applied across everything from the marketing material to the plane exteriors and livery. Here, executive creative director at Brand Union Paul Cardwell chats exclusively to It’s Nice That about the project and how it came to fruition.

“This is a huge project – it’s a new global brand airline, for heaven’s sake – that was achieved in a remarkably tight timeframe. That was possible because IAG had done a lot of work to really understand their audience. These are people who want to collect experience, not things. Principally millennials, but this is an attitude that is not tied to one demographic.
 
“In developing the story it became clear that this new brand has the potential to empower people. It could, quite literally, open up their world, expand their horizons. That gave us the name Level. A word with layers of meaning: Empowerment, a level playing field, transparency, to level with someone, aspiration, a new level.
 
“So we knew the audience and we had the name, now had to get the product right. And IAG knew that the design was going to be an integral part of this product.

“For this audience, two things matter: value and good design. You used to have a sacrifice one to get the other, but not anymore. The design expectations are very high. They have been raised on brands like Zara, H&M and Uniqlo, who brought, and bring, understated good taste to the mass audience. The team at IAG were really committed to doing something new and different. And we knew that the design had to work on everything from a tailfin the size of a building to a one-centimetre icon on a screen.
 
“Our design director Mark Smith came up with the ultimate minimalist statement about flight. The logomark is a bisected square with blue above green: here is the sky and here, below, the land.
 
“Our creative director Marta Swannie developed that into a visual language of graphic patterns. The patterns have to be incredibly versatile, from apps to coffee cups. For key applications the pattern is generated by an algorithm: feed in an image of the source material – a thing, a place – and the pattern appears. Perfect for a digital-first brand.
 
“The style is geographically neutral, truly global: LEVEL could be from Japan. Or Scandinavia. Or anywhere.”

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Brand Union: Level identity

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Brand Union: Level identity

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Brand Union: Level identity

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Brand Union: Level identity

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Brand Union: Level identity

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Brand Union: Level identity