Topic: Design

The Brand Identity 100: Japan Airlines (JAL)

Japan Airlines logo

The Brand Identity 100

No.98: Japan Airlines

In 1989 after Japan Airlines and Japan Air System merged, Landor Associates was hired to rebrand the airline. Landor’s efforts resulted in “grounding” the airline’s majestic red-crown crane livery, above, called tsurumaru (鶴丸) or “crane circle,” in favor of a drab-on-drab all-type treatment with decorative red box and complimentary gray rectangle. This visual travesty somehow managed to elude the brand authorities for nearly thirteen years. I know, I cringed every time I witnessed a JAL flight climbing out of SFO during this period; yes indeed, if getting stuck on the 101 freeway could be any worse, Landor’s design somehow managed to make it utterly unbearable. So when in 2002 JAL announced another rebranding campaign, you can imagine how excited I was; but that renewed sense of of hope quickly turned to horror when Landor was tasked — again — for the redesign. Needless to say, the ensuing nouveau drab-on-drab sans-serif all-type treatment with action swoosh de jour was no improvement.

Thankfully in January, 2011, following its corporate restructuring, Japan Airlines returned to the classic tsurumaru logo:

The Tsurumaru JAL logo was created in 1958 by Jerry Huff, the creative director at Botsford, Constantine and Gardner of San Francisco, which had been the advertising agency for Japan Airlines from its earliest days. JAL had used several logos up until 1958. When the airline arranged to buy new DC8, they decided to create a new official logo to announce the inauguration of their jet service world wide.

In the creation of the logo, Huff was inspired by the personal crests of Samurai families. In a book he’d been given, We Japanese, he found pages of crests, including the crane. On his choice of the crane, he writes: “I had faith that it was the perfect symbol for Japan Air Lines. I found that the Crane myth was all positive—it mates for life (loyalty), and flies high for miles without tiring (strength.)” (Wikipedia: Japan Airlines)

This harkens back to a bygone era in which a creative director could “have faith” that he had created the perfect design, without relying on market research, focus groups and quant maps to bleed the soul out of a design.

Facade: Over-Clocked Animal Black Extrusion / Granular Stain Trammel (Tramp & Hobo Stage Door)

Facade: Over-Clocked Animal Black Extrusion / Granular Seal Stain Trammel Trap & Hamper Stage Door by The Mansbridge Directive, 2013

Facade: Over-Clocked Animal Black Extrusion / Granular Stain Trammel (Tramp & Hobo Stage Door) by The Mansbridge Directive, 2013

Facade: Apocryphal Norse Oblivion Rampart With John Wilkes Troll Booth Inspection Vector Treatment

Facade: Apocryphal Norse Oblivion Rampart With John Wilkes Troll Booth Inspection Vector Treatment by The Mansbridge Directive, 2013

Facade: Apocryphal Norse Oblivion Rampart With John Wilkes Troll Booth Inspection Vector Treatment by The Mansbridge Directive, 2013

Facade: Bait Dolt & Schlemiel / Gull Chum & Lure With Flaking Rigid Plate Treatment

Facade: Bait, Dolt & Schlemiel / Gull Chum & Lure With Flaking Rigid Plate Treatment by The Mansbridge Directive, 2013

Facade: Bait Dolt & Schlemiel / Gull Chum & Lure With Flaking Rigid Plate Treatment by The Mansbridge Directive, 2013

Facade: Neutered Data Core / Bloating Battleship With Wrought Siren Treatment

Facade: Neutered Data Core / Bloating Battleship With Wrought Siren Treatment by The Mansbridge Directive, 2013

Facade: Neutered Data Core / Bloating Battleship With Wrought Siren Treatment by The Mansbridge Directive, 2013

Facade: Intangible Dance Hall / Wistful Penal Stockade With Patronizing Manchurian Arch Treatment

Facade: Intangible Dance Hall / Wistful Penal Stockade With Patronizing Manchurian Arch Treatment by The Mansbridge Directive, 2013

Facade: Intangible Dance Hall / Wistful Penal Stockade With Patronizing Manchurian Arch Treatment by The Mansbridge Directive, 2013

Facade: Unauthorized Reproduction of the Mansbridge Directive Black Hole Facilities Maintenance Secretariat, Dusky Rollups Division

School of Mansbridge - Dusky Rollup

Facade: Unauthorized Reproduction of the Mansbridge Directive Black Hole Facilities Maintenance Secretariat, Dusky Rollups Division. (Attribution: School of Mansbridge.)

Facade: Move Along This Seemingly Derelict Building Certainly Could Not Contain A Traversable Wormhole With Trapdoor & Chain-Link Accent Treatment

Facade: Move Along This Seemingly Derelict Building Certainly Could Not Contain A Traversable Wormhole With Trapdoor & Chain-Link Accent Treatment by The Mansbridge Directive, 2013

Facade: Move Along This Seemingly Derelict Building Certainly Could Not Contain A Traversable Wormhole With Trapdoor & Chain-Link Accent Treatment by The Mansbridge Directive, 2013

Facade: Inconspicuous Ruttish Wicket, Sluice Purse and Randy Turnstile Effluvium

Facade: Inconspicuous Ruttish Wicket, Sulice Purse and Randy Turnstile Effluvium by The Mansbridge Directive, 2013

Facade: Inconspicuous Ruttish Wicket, Sulice Purse and Randy Turnstile Effluvium by The Mansbridge Directive, 2013

Facade: Fantail Fabrication / Conceited Cowlick And Wilting Empennage Interlocking Assembly Building

Facade: Conceited Cowlick, Fantail Fabrication And Interlocking Empennage Assembly Building by The Mansbridge Directive, 2013

Facade: Fantail Fabrication / Conceited Cowlick And Wilting Empennage Interlocking Assembly Building by The Mansbridge Directive, 2013

Facade: Reinforced Powdered Sigh & Forlorn Plug-Wad Monument With Totable Newscaster Treatment

Facade: Reinforced Powdered Lime & Forlorn Plug-Wad Monument (Sans Totable Newscaster) Treatment by The Mansbridge Directive, 2013

Facade: Reinforced Powdered Sigh & Forlorn Plug-Wad Monument With Totable Newscaster Treatment by The Mansbridge Directive, 2013

Facade: Undulating Cinder Nonruminant Hoofed Mammal Maintenance And Repair Facility Treatment

Facade: Undulating Cinder Nonruminant Hoofed Mammal Maintenance And Repair Facility Treatment by The Mansbridge Directive, 2013

Facade: Undulating Cinder Nonruminant Hoofed Mammal Maintenance And Repair Facility Treatment by The Mansbridge Directive, 2013

Facade: Declining Benevolent Fraternal Auxiliary Lost In the Mist of Antiquity Treatment

Declining Benevolent Fraternal Auxiliary Lost In the Midst of Antiquity Treatment by The Mansbridge Directive, 2013

Declining Benevolent Fraternal Auxiliary Lost In the Mist of Antiquity Treatment by The Mansbridge Directive, 2013

Diogenes, the original punk/Dadaist/Cynic, meets Alvin Lustig

Diogenes #3 cover - Alvin Lustig

Diogenes No.3, Summer 1953. Cover art by Alvin Lustig.

Diogenes is a peer-reviewed academic journal that publishes papers four times a year in the field of Philosophy and the Humanities. It has been publishing since 1953, when issue No. 3, above, was published, with a great cover by famed modernist designer Alvin Lustig  (1915-1955), who trained at the Art Center School of Design in Los Angeles and briefly studied with Frank Lloyd Wright. Sadly, they no longer hire great designers to make interesting covers, as you can see on their website at the link above.

The journal is named after Diogenes of Sinope (412/404-323 BC), an ancient Greek philosopher also known as Diogenes the Cynic, and one of the founders of Cynic philosophy:

Diogenes of Sinope was a controversial figure. His father minted coins for a living, and when Diogenes took to “defacement of the currency,” he was banished from Sinope. After being exiled, he moved to Athens to debunk cultural conventions. Diogenes modelled himself on the example of Hercules. He believed that virtue was better revealed in action than in theory. He used his simple lifestyle and behaviour to criticise the social values and institutions of what he saw as a corrupt society. He declared himself a cosmopolitan. There are many tales about him dogging Antisthenes’ footsteps and becoming his faithful hound, but it is by no means certain that the two men ever met. Diogenes made a virtue of poverty. He begged for a living and slept in a large ceramic jar in the marketplace. He became notorious for his philosophical stunts such as carrying a lamp in the daytime, claiming to be looking for an honest man. He embarrassed Plato, disputed his interpretation of Socrates and sabotaged his lectures. Diogenes was also responsible for publicly mocking Alexander the Great.

After being captured by pirates and sold into slavery, Diogenes eventually settled in Corinth. There he passed his philosophy of Cynicism to Crates, who taught it to Zeno of Citium, who fashioned it into the school of Stoicism, one of the most enduring schools of Greek philosophy. None of Diogenes’ many writings has survived, but details of his life come in the form of anecdotes (chreia), especially from Diogenes Laërtius, in his book Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers. All we have is a number of anecdotes concerning his life and sayings attributed to him in a number of scattered classical sources, none of them definitive. [Wikipedia: Diogenes of Sinope]

Here is a cool (and funny) video — made by a “professional philosopher” — that provides a good overview of the life and philosophy of Diogenes:

Cynical fun with etymology

Because Diogenes believed that dogs were prefect beings, faithful and honest, always living in the moment without pretense, he earned the nickname “Diogenes the Dog.” The Greek word for dog is “kyon,” with the adjective form “kyonikos” (“dog-like”), which is the root for the modern name of his philosophy, Cynicism. Does that mean your dog is cynical? Yes, but not in the modern meaning of the word:

Cynicism, in its original form, refers to the beliefs of an ancient school of Greek philosophers known as the Cynics. Their philosophy was that the purpose of life was to live a life of Virtue in agreement with Nature. This meant rejecting all conventional desires for wealth, power, sex, and fame, and by living a simple life free from all possessions. As reasoning creatures, people could gain happiness by rigorous training and by living in a way which was natural for humans. The first philosopher to outline these themes was Antisthenes, who had been a pupil of Socrates in the late 5th century BCE. He was followed by Diogenes of Sinope, who lived in a tub on the streets of Athens. Diogenes took Cynicism to its logical extremes, and came to be seen as the archetypal Cynic philosopher. He was followed by Crates of Thebes who gave away a large fortune so he could live a life of Cynic poverty in Athens. Cynicism spread with the rise of Imperial Rome in the 1st century, and Cynics could be found begging and preaching throughout the cities of the Empire. It finally disappeared in the late 5th century, although some have claimed that early Christianity adopted many of its ascetic and rhetorical ideas.

By the 19th century, emphasis on the negative aspects of Cynic philosophy led to the modern understanding of cynicism to mean a disposition of disbelief in the sincerity or goodness of human motives and actions. [Wikipedia: Cynicism (philosophy)]

So your loyal dog is a Cynic philosopher, but not a cynic. “Diogenes” would be a good name for him. Or “Alvin.”

Facade: Rough-Hewn Technically Ersatz Entrance To Polytechnic Finishing Institution Treatment

Facade: Roughhewn Technically Ersatz Entrance To Polytechnical Finishing Institute Treatment by The Mansbridge Directive, 2013

Facade: Rough-Hewn Technically Ersatz Entrance To Polytechnic Finishing Institution Treatment by The Mansbridge Directive, 2013

Facade: Boogie Nights Fern Tub / 1856 Sliding Gun Emplacement Treatment

Facade: Boogie Nights Fern Tub / 1856 Sliding Gun Emplacement Treatment by The Mansbridge Directive, 2013

Facade: Boogie Nights Fern Tub / 1856 Sliding Gun Emplacement Treatment by The Mansbridge Directive, 2013