ValueCheck: Lufthansa brand relaunch – is it really soaring to new heights?


ValueCheck Lufthansa 2018.001

Photos: Lufthansa


By Andreas Weber, Head of Value | German Version

Note: As a teenager, I made my first flight experience with Lufthansa. That was great! Over the next 45 years, I have had some ‘Ups & Downs’ with the Kranich Airline (also a few years as a premium customer with Lufthansa Senator status). — I watch relevant news as an analyst always highly interested.

With a big bang, millions in advertising revenue and full of fervor, Lufthansa is re-branding itself. At the heart of this is an elaborate re-design – above all the crane as its symbol – which according to estimates has taken at least seven years to be fully implemented.

According to Group CEO Carsten Spohr, the new brand world is the icing on the cake of modernization, he says with pride and joy. It works. Experts are not tired of holding forth about all the design aspects of the new brand identity. [The newspaper HORIZONT provides an overview].

However, the news channel n-tv rightly noted, with the help of media expert Thomas Koch, that whether the redesign will actually bring in new customers and give the business wings is debatable. According to Koch, it’s the customer who decides on the performance [quality] of the offer. A redesigned logo as a trademark is more incidental. 

Lufthansa’s head of marketing, Alexander Schlaubitz, emphasizes that it is about more than that [or even about everything!] As his Group CEO has said, Lufthansa needs modernizing. For corporate marketing, this means doing away with anything which cannot be optimally digitized in order to do justice to the digital transformation and mobile communication, right down to the last pixel. [See interview by Fabian Wurm].


Kranich vorher nachher 58181-detail

Photo: The Lufthansa logo since 1990.


This was actually something that the godfather of the design, Otl Aicher, had his eye on at the start of the 1960s when he created the crane as the trademark as part of a comprehensive CI. But his demand for clarity, conciseness and simplicity ruffled a few feathers at the time, and compromises had to be made in the tradition. Surprisingly, now, almost 60 years later, the results that have been reached hark back to Aicher’s original intentions. [Note: I became aware of this first-hand because I personally spent a few years working closely with Aicher on his Rotis typeface project and he often spoke of Lufthansa and other clients.]

Much ado about nothing?

As is often the case, the customer’s experience of the brand is very different to how marketing assumed it would be. Lufthansa simultaneously sent out an email (presumably to all customer program members, in modified form also used as a manifesto by advertising motif), which is thought-provoking as it overdoes it with self-praise while in many staccato sentence fragments manage to forget possible customer benefits.

  • The introductory sentence starts with “We” (in terms of “We at Lufthansa” and not “We as a community”).
  • From the outset, the customer is stylized, to put it bluntly, as the “flight attendant”.
  • It is assumed that customers must follow the Lufthansa claim.
  • The advertised claim, in modern hashtag dexterity, #SayYesToTheWorld is laughably banal and implies that Lufthansa customers can best take off by being a yes-person.
  • Last but not least, the key visual in the email shows the tail fin of a plane, as if the person in question had just missed his flight…
  • And last but not least: It’s not personal! An option or even an active request for the email recipient to give immediate feedback to the modernized Lufthansa “outfit” by return is not included. What a shame. Or is it? Because this goes against the values that the digital world stands for in the social media age.
  • Note: It should be assumed that many hundreds of thousands of customers have received the email, in any case presumably significantly more than had received it at the time of the email being sent by re-branding via the media customers.

In my view, the “crassly modern” digital electronic mail-shot back-fired because it does nothing for the customers – instead it wants to create a good impression. This brings to mind unsettling experiences which, as a long-standing senator of Lufthansa, I was continually subjected to.


Better late than never: reverse the communication course!

If it really is about the Lufthansa brand (its self-image as being a “premium” brand) being brought into the digital age, Lufthansa’s thinking and mode of communication needs be changed radically.

In my view, these aspects should be considered:

  1. It is crucial that the innovation and technology mechanisms be made use of so that dialog or conversations with customers take place in real time, to serve the optimization of services and products so that they are aligned with the individual needs of the customer.
  2. The brand itself is no longer at the center, instead it becomes a kind of mutual vehicle for companies and customers. Mass marketing becomes customized mass marketing. If, like the majority of established brand companies, the focus is placed on brand experience, to impress customers using the hopefully strong charisma of the brand through mass penetration and thus motivate the customer to make a purchase, in the best case, costs can be covered but it is barely possible to make profit from organic growth or to achieve profit margins in double-figures.
  3. The reality is unavoidable Customers are increasingly disappointed when brands have clearly lost personal contact with them.



My take

Sometimes the stork appears like a swallow which has not yet brought the summer with it. To avoid dissatisfaction and loss of loyalty from customers, in my opinion, what is needed is not necessarily a change in brand identity but first of all a change in the mission and a change in thinking by those in charge. By acknowledging globalization, cosmopolitanism and curiosity”, a start has been made. – But at least, put the customer first! – This is all the more important since Lufthansa, according to its own statement, is starting the largest investment in advertising in the history of the company” – after the company had the best financial year in its history in 2017, with 130 million customers recorded.



About the author

Andreas Weber has been working as an internationally renowned business communication analyst, coach, influencer and transformer for over 25 years. His activities focus on ‘Transformation for the Digital Age’ with lectures, management briefings, workshops, analyses & reports and strategic advice.

In his current ‘Think Paper’, Andreas Weber presents provocative thoughts on ‘Brand Experience vs. Customer Experience’. With the key questions: “What does a brand mean to a consumer? What does a consumer mean to a brand?”.

In case of interest, please send an email to receive the above-mentioned think paper: zeitenwende007{at}


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