Somewhere, I am sure, a voice of designers and self-appointed taste-makers are deconstructing the new American Airlines branding revealed yesterday, critiquing it, describing how they would have made it better, possibly even, how they would have given the legacy airline much better business and financial advice, vis-a-vis how to spend their money on more than ‘just a branding campaign.’
I know this is going on somewhere, right now, on various blogs, in a plethora of tweets, and on the book of faces.
Some of the points may be true, and many are most definitely not. I’m not here for that discussion, though, only to to be sentimental. Sentimental about an airline, about a brand, about a thing made of steel and carbon fiber, about a mark and simple colors.
That mark, a simple look comprised of a now ubiquitous font in the most American of colors (predictably, prosaically American, even) was created in 1967 by Massimo Vignelli in what was to become one of the most legendary and enduring corporate identity campaigns of the last century. I first became familiar with the look several years later, though, at the ripe old age of 4. My father the pilot—of Air Force jets and remote-controlled toys, of private planes and his prized 454 Corvette Stingray—had found himself grounded a year earlier, along with all the pilots of the crazily colored but now fatally defunct Braniff Airlines. But after a year worth waiting, Captain Carroll found himself at a new home, something special in the air, American Airlines.
That was over 30 years ago. Since then, American Airlines has carried me safely across the country and world countless times, several hundred thousands of miles (probably over a million, but I wasn’t counting in my earlier years). From the front row of first class to the cramped middle seat in the back when smoking on airplanes was somehow still permissible, from Rio to Miami, from Paris to Vancouver, from Lubbock to Albuquerque; flights to wonderful places, flights to funerals of people I loved, and countless flights home. Those same silver planes—with that mark and that look that branding on the seats, that color scheme on the carpets and napkins and food trays—safely carried my father millions and millions of miles, to every corner of the world, but then always home again. And now, my own children, with their own journeys and travel stories, have had this airline carry them on their own adventures, creating their own memories and timelines.
It’s just a mark. It’s just a look. It’s just simple characters and paint and patterns and livery. And if it sounds like I am overly sentimental about it going away, looking at those little things through romantical glasses, rose-tinted with time and the memories that often grown and deepen long after the real story has passed, it’s because I am. The end of one story, the beginning of another.
I am not normally so remiss to take an opportunity to brag, but it has been a few days since Christmas and I still have yet to do so about the amazing handkerchiefs my lovely wife stitched for me! These are the perfect example of what great gifts handmade items are: they are simple enough, but oh-so-meaningful to and cherished by me. And why? Well, aside from all the thought and love that went into such a gift, the hand-stitches are special personalization for me, harkening to my love of rocketships and robots and all things sci-fi.
So thanks, sweetie—these are so awesome!
I’ve got a few ideas on how to make 2013 more awesome, but these are the opposite of normal resolutions. Kinda like anti-resolutions. Still, take a look and lemme know what you think.
Pick up a few pounds — I’m just a slight guy (with a little bit of a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale belly) but this is something I know I can do, pick up not just a few pounds, but several. The best way I can do this this is by grabbing my kiddos for big snuggles, for piggie-back rides, carrying them when they’re tired, putting them on my shoulders so they can see fireworks better. This one will require practice everyday, but I can do it.
Get wrinkles — I have a simple plan for accomplishing this: every time I smile and laugh and enjoy life, each time I squench up my forehead to make a silly face at my daughter, I am getting wrinkledy. I’ve also noticed that when I go to the beach with my wife and lay in the sun, I squint, which invariably leads to crows feet wrinkles. This one should be easy.
Choose quantity over quality — How do I know that only spending 15 minutes with my wife will *be* the 15 minutes that are the most meaningful? How can I be sure that if I only hang with Bubby and Magpie for 20 minutes that those will be the best 20 minutes, the quality time minutes? So I’m forgoing the whole ‘quality’ thing to instead spend as much time as possible with those I love, and I know that there will be many meaningful moments when I do.
Speak without thinking — if I see someone who deserves praise or needs encouragement, I’m not going to think about what I’ll get out of it, whether they’ll do the same for me, or how it will look to other people. I’m just going for it.
Get yellow teeth — I really enjoy drinking red wine with my wife and friends, and I love a tasty cup of coffee. These two things will help me accomplish this goal, and I feel certain that a dedicated routine will help me live up to this one.
Run 1,000 miles — This one pretty much just means run 1,000 miles.
Any good ones I’ve forgotten? Which ones are you going to join me in?
From what I’m guessing, most of you have voted already. By the end of the day, millions of Americans will have also participated in their democratic duty and privilege, some for one guy, and some for another. And some for a third or fourth or fifth guy/gal. All the ads will be over, the Facebook and Twitter rants will be coming to a somewhat end, and it will be done. She voted this way, and he voted that way. They didn’t agree, not one bit. A house divided.
Late tonight—barring any issues with voter fraud, and if we can avoid another lengthy and nightmarish delay in finding out who the winner of this contest is—the results will be in, pronouncing a winner and a loser. There will be celebrating, there will be nah-nahing, there will be pooh-poohing. But it will be decided.
Which brings me to my premise, my main point: who I’m voting for.
When Wednesday, November 7 dawns, we will be back to being what we are the rest of the year: not voters, not Democrats or Republicans or Independents or Greens or Tea Partiers, just Americans. And no matter who is elected, no matter how much hope we have for change, we are the ones who will bring the change. The one guy isn’t going to bring Armageddon, and the other isn’t going to bring a new heaven and a new earth.
We are the change we’re waiting for, and it’s up to us to make America what we want it to be.
This isn’t a simplistic view, an overly naive mantra. Both sides say laws and regulations (or lack thereof) keep them from achieving the America they dream of. I understand that completely.
But that’s not what this is about. This is about us doing what we can to make America awesome, and not waiting for some guy to do it.
Can you step up in your community? Do it! Do you see a way you can make America better by serving, by volunteering, by creating a new idea, by hiring someone or better yet, teaching someone? Do it!
And we *can* do this. This is our America, and it’s why we proudly get to wear the name Americans. AmeriCANs. We can make this country what we want it to be, whoever we voted for today, and whoever wins tonight.
So, if you haven’t figured it out yet, today I’m voting for…you.
Our work isn’t done today when we punch a ballot or draw a line between arrows. It’s just paused for a brief moment.
So tonight, celebrate if your guy wins—but don’t be a gloating jerk. And if your guy loses, take a moment to let out a sigh, but don’t despair. This country will be what *we* make of it. All of us together, Americans.
On November 7, this presidential election season will finally be over (thank goodness) and it will be time to roll up our sleeves and get back to work, making this country what we want it to be.
It starts with me, it starts with you.
And I’m voting for you.