The spirit of connecting

The new Munich Airport: One strong brand with a strong sign





Munich Airport

Munich Airport, or Flughafen München as it’s known in German, turned 20 in 2012 by handling almost 40 million passengers that year as the seventh busiest airport in Europe. While the “M” in its logo was widely regarded as a strong, clearly recognizable and effective symbol, the airport authority realized the brand lacked a clear positioning and needed to raise its profile.

For a start, the activities of the airport group and its subsidiaries were disconnected with the Munich Airport brand. Furthermore, the wide range of brands within the portfolio seemed arbitrary and confusing. In order to succeed in the highly competitive German, European, and global travel market, it was necessary to strengthen and define the brand architecture, refresh its visual and verbal identity, and identify a forward-looking strategy to differentiate and clarify the brand.

Interbrand was hired to develop a new brand strategy, positioning, and visual identity for the airport in order to unite all company divisions while emphasizing the qualities of the core Munich Airport brand.

The importance of mobility today in this dynamically changing world makes the aviation industry more essential—yet challenging—than ever before. Munich Airport clearly needed to solidify its reputation as one of the leading airports in the world and position itself as a seamless mobility brand.

“Today, airports like Munich can no longer be seen as mere infrastructure facilities,” says Michael Otremba, the airport’s vice president of marketing. “The spirit of connecting is at the core of what we do. So, we will focus on segments in which we can connect people, brands, emotions, dreams, services, and processes. With this focus, we hope to not only satisfy, but also surprise our guests.”

With that in mind, the primary goal of the refresh was not only to assess and strengthen the airport’s profile but also to create a cohesive understanding of the brand, internally and externally. The new brand strategy needed to meet the requirements of all Munich Airport divisions, correspond to its various target audiences and stakeholders, and consolidate a muddled brand architecture under one umbrella.

Interbrand’s new, long-term brand positioning—launched in November 2013—thus focused on the airport’s core qualities of close, reliable cooperation with strong partners, foresight and planning, the development of innovative solutions for the future, and the constant pursuit of more customer-oriented offers and services. These characteristics inspired Interbrand to develop the new brand idea and tagline: “Verbindung leben” which translates in English to “Living ideas—Connecting lives.”

A new brand design and visual identity brings this new positioning to life by leveraging Flughafen München’s iconic “M” logo. While highly regarded and well-established, the mark was not evolving or growing with dynamic and relevant content and context. No longer resonating with internal or external target groups, the design challenge was to honor yet refresh and evolve the graphic legacy of the original Flughafen München logo.

The new brand design goes back to the logo’s roots, taking its original specifications and intent to a more modern and considered space. The basic shape of the new logo pays tribute to the classic “M” but now highlights the idea of connection. The visual element that gets to the heart of Munich Airport’s new strategy: The right stroke in the letter “M,” which serves as a connector and conveys the brand idea in its purest form.

The colors palette symbolizes the multifaceted experiences offered at the airport with a sophisticated look and feel. Silver or white can be added to enhance these color accents in order to evoke emotions ranging from refined to vibrant, depending on the purpose of the communication and the platform on which it appears.

The core of the brand experience comes to life through the interplay of all the design elements, including the integrated color palette, bolder brand typeface, an elevated and consistent tone of voice, and eye-catching imagery, which uses pairs of pictures to play up the idea of connections and storytelling, capturing the interplay of interactions in a single moment. The layout brings all of these components together.

The slant in the connector, inspired by the airport’s architecture, plays a vital role in the overall design. The new “M” communicates the airport’s brand promise and future. In addition to communicating the location (Munich/Bavaria) and the function (airport), it reflects the brand’s values and philosophy.

The result communicates that Munich Airport is more than an international hub that gets you on your way with ease and grace, but a living, breathing place, a unique space to experience the joy of travel through authentic connections and meaningful moments. As Michael Otremba puts it, “ Our goal is a cultural change and we realize that the key to success lies in the authenticity of our positioning.”