Boeing shows new colors

  • By Bryan Corliss / Herald Writer
  • Sunday, July 18, 2004 9:00pm
  • Business

The Boeing Co. has a new case of the blues, and marketing executives are excited about it.

The company was scheduled to announce this morning that it has overhauled its corporate livery – the generic paint scheme it uses as its brand colors – to match the paint scheme developed for marketing the new 7E7.

The goal is to “take the excitement about the 7E7 and put it on the entire product line,” said Rob Pollack, Boeing Commercial Airplane’s vice president for brand and market positioning.”

The announcement was to be made at the Farnborough Air Show outside London.

Very few air travelers will ever see a plane painted in these colors. The overwhelming majority of Boeing’s jets are painted in the color schemes used by the airlines.

The color scheme will be used primarily on airplane images Boeing uses in its marketing materials.

However, an Air Berlin 737 has been painted in the new multi-tonal blue-and-white color scheme, and the first 777-200LR, which will be assembled in the Everett factory this winter, will sport the new colors as it goes through its flight test program.

The new color scheme includes four shades of blue and two of white, and uses a sparkling mica-chip paint that’s more common to custom cars.

Reaction so far has been “very strong,” Pollack said. “It’s pretty cool.”

Boeing also will start selling airplane models and other items in its company stores using the paint scheme, and about 10 Boeing delivery vans will be painted in the colors as well.

Companies “try to keep their brands up to date,” said Richard Yalch, a University of Washington marketing professor.

Even such corporate icons as General Mill’s Betty Crocker have been updated over time, to keep the brand contemporary with consumers, he noted.

“The brand is Boeing,” Yalch said. “They’ve got workers and plants and all, but the ultimate long-term value is the brand name and what that means to people.”

In this case, Boeing’s airline customers update their look every 10 years or so, Pollack said. “They want to keep updated, contemporary.”

But Boeing itself has used the same dark blue and white pattern with red, white and blue stripes as its corporate livery since 1981. That design was developed for the launch of the 757 and 767, Pollack said.

The company departed from that in 2002 when it rolled out its 777-300ER, which incorporated a map of the globe on the forward fuselage. However, that look still was derived from the 1981 design and somewhat dated, Pollack said.

“The 300ER was a good-looking exciting-looking airplane,” he said. “The 7E7 went one step further.”

This is the fifth set of standard colors that Boeing has used in its history. The first standard, set in 1928, called for gray and dark green bodies with orange wings and tails.

When the Dash 80, Boeing’s first commercial jet prototype, took its first flight 50 years ago, it sported yellow-and-brown colors. The first 747 was white and silver with red stripes.

“It’s part of the transition of our business,” Pollack said. “We’re going to be leaders in our industry, and we’re here to stay.”

Reporter Bryan Corliss: 425-339-3454 or corliss@heraldnet.com.

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