Was it coincidence or the result of ignoring feng shui (positive energy flow), but as it happened Japan Airlines’ fortunes began to decline precipitously not long after it dropped its crane logo from its livery in 2002 and adopted a nondescript red slash mark as its brand identity. In 2010, JAL was even forced to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Coincidence? We think not.
This month JAL announced that it will go back to the original red crown crane logo that it had used for more than 40 years, beginning in 1959. In Japanese culture, the crane is viewed as a symbol of long life, prosperity and good health, and red is the color of happiness. That’s why for weddings, anniversaries and other auspicious occasions, the custom is to decorate with a thousand origami cranes to express good wishes. JAL’s current red slash logo has no such significance, no matter how much it has been described as a “sliver of the sun” or the tip of a samurai sword. Interestingly, even though the sliver mark had been in use for nearly a decade, most people still associate the red crane with JAL.
In announcing the new old logo, JAL’s group president Masaru Onishi indicated that it signaled a return to JAL’s core values. “Now, represented by the high-flying crane, we hereby renew our commitment to provide our valued customers with the highest level of service…” he said.
The changeover to the crane logo will begin April 1 on JAL’s international aircraft, with staff uniforms, signage, business stationery and other items phased in over the next few years.
Long live the crane!