By The Herald Editorial Board
Well, it beats “The Airport Formerly Known as Snohomish County Airport Paine Field.”
And never mind what squiggles would be used for a logo.
Yet, reaction has been mixed to last week’s announcement by Snohomish County, which oversees the venerable 1,315-acre, 87-year-old field most locals refer to simply as Paine Field, is now — officially — Seattle Paine Field International Airport, as reported by The Herald’s Janice Podsada.
For some the rebranding is only slightly less painful to regional pride than the red-hot iron used on cattle. With no mention of Everett or Snohomish County in the name, the new brand appears to annex the airport to a certain metropolis to the south to which we claim allegiance only when its sports teams are winning. One reader’s email suggested Everett just get it over with and change its name to North Seattle.
For others, it’s seen as a useful step to increase the visibility of the airport, its relatively new and celebrated passenger terminal and a gateway to a county with much to offer.
The new name, a county statement said last week, “aims to guide more travelers, tourists, and investors to Paine Field and reinforce its geographic proximity to the globally recognized city of Seattle.”
County Executive Dave Somers, likewise, backed the new name: “With nearly $60 billion in yearly economic impact and over 150,000 jobs, the airport must continually find new ways to strengthen our marketing and brand. This change will significantly bolster our business attraction and marketing efforts, while protecting the historical significance of the Paine Field name.”
Like the TBA designation on an airport’s “Arrivals” and “Departures” boards, we’ll have to wait for updates as to the name change’s effectiveness. Regardless, Snohomish County and Everett have fared OK over the years in playing second to Seattle. If adding our big brother’s name to the welcome mat makes us more visible and inviting, it’s worth a try.
Still, such name changes and rebrandings have worked for some but flopped for others.
The inclusion of Seattle in the names of Indigo Seattle Everett on Everett’s waterfront and Hampton Seattle/Everett downtown haven’t appeared to confuse many travelers. Nor are shoppers, especially those coming south from Canada, upset that the Seattle Premium Outlets in Tulalip is that much closer than its namesake city.
Some changes just take time to win folks over.
Everett residents of a certain age will remember the friendly lowercase “e” logo on the side of city trucks and park signage, until city leaders sought to strengthen the look for a growing city and found the shift key on the keyboard for an uppercase E.
Even that took some time; a contest in 2014 solicited some 850 entries before picking a stylized E as the new brand. But that lasted only a month before critics pointed out the logo looked a lot like a logo already in use by an investment firm. It took another five years for the city to settle on the current stylized capital E.
(And that logo this time resembles the emblem for a software company, just turned on its side. There’s only so many ways, apparently, for a letter to be manipulated and still be recognizable.)
The Daily Herald, as well, has weathered the loss in 2009 of “Everett” from its front-page flag, though readers and even staffers still slip “Everett” between “The” and “Herald” in everyday usage.
Yet, many rebrandings have missed their trademarked mark.
The aforementioned Prince used the phrase, “The Artist Formerly Known as Prince,” only long enough to get out of a record contract before switching back to Prince, though he kept the squiggly symbol and had it fashioned into a pretty cool guitar.
Other rebrandings succumbed quickly to criticism — we’re looking at you, New Coke, the “Radio”-less “The Shack” and the “Pizza”-less “The Hut” — and were followed by “What were we thinking?” reversals.
And what of Elon Musk’s announcement Sunday evening that he was flipping Twitter’s familiar blue bird logo and its name for “X”? Musk said the new name and logo comes in advance of his intention of relaunching the social network as a “super app” that will combine the service’s post hosting with banking and shopping services.
Because most folks start a major remodel with a fresh coat of paint.
Given that Twitter — excuse us, X — as of late May was valued at about a third of the $44 billion that Musk had paid for it just months before — having lost half of its advertisers and 80 percent of its employees — a name change isn’t likely to hinder the social network any more than Musk will himself with his mercurial decision making.
In any event, it’s a good bet that Paine Field — by any other name — will still be welcoming and sending off its “birds” longer than whatever Musk’s X is supposed to do.