Air Inuit Identity

air_inuit_livery_all“We wanted to take an Inuit cultural aspect and make it reflect an airline”

Established in 1978 with a lone, single-engine De Havilland Beaver aircraft and collectively owned by the Inuit, who have occupied the territory for thousands of years, Air Inuit is the sole airline providing passenger, charter, cargo, and emergency air transport services to Quebec’s northernmost coastal communities known as Nunavik. Its small fleet of 26 airplanes is well known in the airline industry for having “one of the most enviable safety records in Canada” despite the “challenging and often hostile conditions” under which it operates. The new identity and livery, introduced a year ago — flying under the radar of Brand New at the time — were designed by Montreal-based FEED in collaboration with brand consultant Marc-André Chaput.

The rebranding of Air Inuit may come as a surprise to some (since the carrier has few or no direct competitors to speak of), but it is part of a company-wide modernization initiative designed to help Air Inuit meet increased demanfor air transport services due to the growing number of infrastructure and mining projects in the resource-rich province.

The orange-and-white goose design was created to reflect the Inuit’s love and respect of nature and the abundant wildlife that have allowed its people to survive for thousands of years in one of the planet’s harshest environments. It was also intended to underscore the company’s distinctive corporate culture and bold new vision for the future which includes improving efficiency to cope with rising operating costs, the addition of new routes and specialized services, and a careful expansion into new markets.

air_inuit_envelope air_inuit_uniformIn addition to a bold new logo and livery design, Feed also created an exclusive typeface in collaboration with French typeface designer Jean-Baptiste Levée to give the distinctive written language a strong, yet carefully crafted feel that steers clear of clichés, reflects the company’s specialized expertise and spirit of innovation, and works across cultures and languages. Appropriately named Air Inuit Sans, the corporate font is one of a handful of typefaces in the world used to write the Inuktitut language, and certainly one of the first specifically designed to give roman glyphs and their syllabic equivalent a look and feel that is common to both. The same typeface was used to create the company’s new logotype that features the word “Inuit” in traditional syllabics in orange to highlight the company’s Inuit ownership and cultural heritage.

air_inuit_type_02

Air Inuit Sans by Jean-Baptiste Levée. See his case study here.

The new logo, on its own, is nothing to get excited about. It’s as straightforward as wordmarks get — except for the part that half of this wordmark is set in the Inuktitut language (making it interesting simply because the two languages are perfectly in visual synch). Even in application the logo is barely noticeable and the custom sans serif barely registers as anything out of the ordinary. Strangely enough, this is actually praise. The quiet and subtle integration of the local language is more than enough peculiarity to the project and is a commendable effort in itself. Even better is the fact that this subtle typography is accompanied by a stunning piece of illustration that single-handedly turns this identity and livery into a fantastically restrained and sophisticated brand where there was none before.

A homage to a generations-old tradition of Inuit arts and crafts, the fuselage was used as an artist’s canvas to allow the dovetailing Canada geese to fully spread their wings so they could be seen from a distance and contrast with the snowy landscape.

air_inuit_identity_pressDespite a minimal range of execution variations the identity feels fresh and lively. The rich orange works great as bursts of color against starkly white applications and even though the goose illustration always appears in the same crop in the same bottom-right corner, its fluidity helps avoid it to grow tiring. This is simplicity done right. And bright.

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