Monday, February 6, 2012

Malév brand history

The end of a national airline means the end of a brand that has been a source of pride for a nation for well over a half century. The changing structure of the worldwide aviation market has seen the collapse of the likes of Sabena, Swissair, Olympic Airlines and Alitalia. Some brands were confined to history, others were carried over to a slimmer organisation formed to fill the hole left by the flag carrier.

Malév Hungarian Airlines, the Hungarian state-owned airline, is the latest flag carrier to meet this fate, as it abruptly ceased operations last week after two decades of economic struggles. Unless a plan to revive the airline is realised, this will likely mean the end of a brand that has been in operation since 1956. To mark this occasion, here's a short summary of Malév's corporate identity through its existence.

What turned out to be Malév's last logo was designed by Hungarian graphic artist László Zsótér and introduced in the late 1980s. It survived Hungary's transition into a free republic, and didn't change after that, making it one of the oldest airline logos around at the time of the collapse.

The three-stripe symbol usually carried the colours of the Hungarian flag - red, white and green - although a single colour version became commonly used after some time. While I haven't been able to find sources that state what the stripes are supposed to symbolise, I would guess they represent a stylized letter M or a tailfin.

Malév livery. Photo by Kok Vermeulen (CC-BY).

This was Malév's first modern corporate identity to be used consistently on both plane liveries and printed materials.

In it's first three decades, the logos used by Malév for signage and printed materials weren't seen on plane liveries, as had usually been the case before corporate identity became an important concern. Malév planes were recognised by their tailfins with the letter M and the Hungarian flag.

MALEV Hungarian Airlines Ilyushin Il-18V HA-MOH (msn 900667) LBG (Christian Volpati) (historic photo)
A historic 1960s livery.

Malév print logo used in the 1970s and 1980s.
The logo on the right was introduced in the early 1970s was frequently used on printed materials and in advertising during much of the 1970s and 1980s.

Here are some resources if you want to know more about Malév, its history and its corporate identity.

The Malév group on Flickr
Airline Timetable Images
AirTimes (more timetables)
Design Terminal (in Hungarian)
Malev history (Hungarian)
Malev history (English)

If you have anything to contribute to this article, don't hesitate to post a comment below.

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