An airline’s livery, the exterior decoration of its aircraft fleet, is one of the most potent elements of its brand. If a carrier is on the top of its branding game, its planes will be recognizable even when the airline’s name or logo is not visible. This makes recent move by Thai Airways all the more bizarre.
After a Thai Airways Airbus 330-300 skidded off the runway in Bangkok following a landing gear malfunction, airline employees set about blacking out the company’s name and logo on the aircraft’s fuselage. I suppose they might have reasoned that if Superman can be completely unrecognizable by simply sporting a pair of glasses and calling himself Clark Kent, then the airline could disassociate itself from the mishap by covering over the corporate imagery.
The unusual tactic appears to have backfired, as it has sparked a significant amount of commentary and condemnation. When asked why the Thai Airways logo and name were obscured, company representatives commented that it is a standard component of the airline’s crisis communications protocol.