What's in a name?
Airbus is in the news, and analysts doubt that the company will pull ahead of its archrival Boeing.
I have only the most indirect relationship with the aerospace industry - basically, I fly a fair amount - but the whole idea of Airbus is off-putting to me. Airbus is a conglomerate of interesting companies that manages to be far less cool than the sum of its parts. Even the name implies disdain for its customers. Air… BUS? I don't want a "bus" experience of air travel, and I don't like the association of those ideas.
Even the logo manages to be desperately uncool and off-putting:
Compare and contrast with one of the constituent companies:
Could there be a more awesome name than "Aérospatiale"? The logo is pretty cool as well, although a bit retro now.
Since we're on the topic, let's talk about Boeing as well for a moment:
Another cool logo, reminding us that Boeing is not just about a big bus that takes passengers between cities, but also about rockets that go to space.
This is not just theoretical marketing wonkery, either. The whole concept of the big A380 "super-jumbo"1 fits into that bus model of thinking: not the fastest, not the most innovative, just a way to stack as much self-loading cargo as possible in one bus and ship it to its destination as cheaply as possible (for the operator). This concept has largely failed to resonate with the market, and the A380 programme is in serious trouble, with Reuters calling it "poor-selling". Compare and contrast with the Concorde, which is still used as an image of technological success years after the termination of maintenance contracts - by Airbus - killed it as a commercial proposition.
I mean, just look at it!
Nobody is going to sell posters of the A380 after the end of its service life. No airport will want to park one on its apron, and no travellers will gaze at it longingly from the windows of their more pedestrian aircraft.
What's in a name? Sometimes, everything.
Surely it says something that they even define themselves in relation to categories that are already owned and defined by their arch-rival? There is only one "jumbo" jet, and that is the Boeing 747. Calling your own plane the "super-jumbo" just makes you look like Homer Simpson designing a car. Maybe they should just call the next one the "Airbus Homer", with gratuitous fins, bubble domes everywhere, and shag carpeting throughout the cabin. ↩