A Legacy:Rebranding South African Airways

What do you think of South African Airways livery?Is it lively enough;does it capture our colorful lives and cultures and even histories.Apart from some daring designs by airlines such as Kulula or Mango Airlines,most African airline liveries are pretty bland to be honest.
Kyle Hwang
Kyle Hwang is young and passionate aviation geek from Pretoria ,South Africa and a prolific designer too.His "favorite pastime is livery designing" and he has come up with some innovative and imaginative redesigns of airline liveries.One of his(and mine too) favorite albeit controversial "redesigns" is that of South African Airways.His inspiration is the Springbok(South Africa's National Animal) and a symbol of apartheid.

During apartheid,the Springbok was a powerful symbol of Afrikaner nationalism and the incoming ANC regime,determined to dismantle these vestiges and symbols of the past,took great care in rebranding the former "pariah airline' to conform to the post apartheid realities.So out went the blue Springbok and in came the
new livery based upon the new national flag, with a yellow ball (sun) placed in the red stripe

The blue flying Springbok:The South African Airways emblem prior to 1997
The Revenge of the Springbok?
Kyle disagrees;of the Springbok,he says "I do not think it is a reminder of Apartheid.The Flying Springbok logo was used even before apartheid was initiated."His redesign embraces the two South Africas;the old and the new.The "Rainbow nation" as conceived by Mandela must embrace every facet of its cultures and experiences,and that includes some symbols of the old Afrikaner dominated South Africa too.

Kyle has also addressed the concerns for those who might accuse him of harboring a nostalgia for the old days:"My version of the livery also feature the three colours of the ANC quite predominantly too so you cannot blame me for political incorrectness."

 The airline of the old South Africa:Suid Afrikaanse Lugdiens(SAL),the "pariah airline"

The livery of Post Apartheid South Africa:Adopted in 1997 as ANC dismantles the old symbols of Aparthied and Afrikaner nationalism.
 The Future:Kyle's livery for the Rainbow Nation's airline?Kyle concludes that "sooner or later the springbok might just find its way back into South African branding."

Read Kyle Hwang's Blog Raydon Designer's Blog 

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9 Responses
  1. Anonymous Says:

    Politics aside, I think this design is absolutely brilliant!

  2. IAGblog Says:

    Kyle - now that's something awesome! I like the design and love the plane you put it on. Really creative. Good for you.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    Yes,I believe they should.THough the Springbok had its negative connotations during the Apartheid era,South Africa has come a long way and is truly perceived to be a rainbow nation.
    The Springbok does give the logo distinctiveness,which is what I think every brand or logo should have.

    Aeroflot still retains the Hammer and Sickle from the Soviet Era.

    Posted by Rahul Deans via LinkedIn

  4. If I'm not mistaken,the South African rugby team are still called the Springboks?Every country has historical events the citizens would rather forget,and apartheid,heinous as it was,belongs firmly in S.A's past.

    Steven Woolgrove Allan via LinkedIn

  5. If Mandella can move on, then perhaps others can as well.

  6. Hi all,

    Thanks for your comments (this is Kyle btw).

    1. As mentioned in my blog, the rugby team is still called the Springboks

    2. The reason why my design is so controversial is because South Africans (particularly the older generation) still play the old "apartheid" card. South Africans (particularly the older generation) still likes to blame everything on apartheid whenever they can.

    Like one of my school teachers said, the current generation in power has not quite grasped the concept of the rainbow nation yet. South Africans will need to wait for your generation to get into power before it will come into play.

    Mandela was a great man and had a great vision. Just a pity that those that followed him cannot carry it out...

    Kind Regards,

  7. AfricanFlyer Says:

    Kyle,it's a bit unfortunate your brilliant piece of work has taken a political tone,inevitably.Am always told that everything in South Africa is intricately linked to apartheid..

    If re-branding an airline livery was as cheap as re-branding an airline website,then am sure this design is something the big shots at South African Airways and most South Africans who love their great airline would really give a thumbs up!But as you said,"The problem between designing and reality is always just one thing: MONEY."

    So this design,like Mandela's dream of rainbow nation,will exist in our dreams and laptops;at least in the foreseeable future.

  8. Anonymous Says:


    I must say I really do hope this is taken further. In one blog spot you have summarized what it 'should' mean to be South African. I just wish the people in government would see it that way. To me it seems that the present government is only interested in one thing and that is reverse apartheid. It is one of the greatest upsets from the days of Mandela, when this country seemed to be on the road to amazing greatness.

    15 years on and we are reminded of apartheid. As your teacher said, it is going to take at least 2 generations for this country to come right. I really do hope I am in the wrong cause this is an amazing country with the greatest potential to be among the world leaders, just not with the current government, they have to much hatred in them.

    As I stated, I do honestly hope I am wrong, and a good way to prove to the South African people and the rest of the world that we CAN be an amazing and powerful(in a positive way) country would be the changes you are promoting.

    The design you have, is a truly beautiful and iconic thought. I doubt the present government as it stands, would not be interested in something like this and the first and only thing they would say and repeat saying is that it represents apartheid and therefore no good.

    It is a pity as the design could be, as I see it, a definite positive step in the right direction.

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