by Elise Boyd in New Design on Friday 20 June 2014

In 2010, 42-year old Fijian airline Air Pacific had a problem: they were struggling to be recognised as the national airline of Fiji. Their biggest problem was the fierce competition with a number of other Pacific carriers. The decision was made: rebrand, and make sure people would recognise Fiji’s national carrier.

The company went back to its roots, returning the company’s original 1950’s name, Fiji Airways, and worked on developing a brand new identity that would align with their new name.

The challenge of the rebrand was to redefine; create a national identity and embody the values and unique spirit of Fiji in the brand. And, to create something everyone would be proud of in Fiji.

The airline selected Australian creative agency Futurebrand as their lead design partner to assist with creating a new visual identity and experience for Fiji Airways.

The traditional Masi art & motifs

The first step of the rebrand was working with renowned Fijian Masi Artist, Makereta Matemo, to create a uniquely Fijian identity.

Makereta has been creating traditional Fijian Masi art for 32 years, artwork which is created with natural materials. The masi paper is first created by taking mulberry tree bark, and separating the paper from then beating it and flattening it to make the canvas for the artwork.

The cloth is then decorated by a number of techniques, such as rubbing, stamping, stencilling, smoking or dyeing the material, creating pigments and dyes from things like soaking bark for a week.

Makereta gives Bansky a run for his money in the stencil-stakes, creating her stencils from leaves to produce her artwork.

The custom Bula font

FutureBrand teamed up with typographer Kris Sowersby to create a custom font for the airline, called Bula (the Fijian word for ‘hello’). The typeface was designed to complement Makereta’s traditiona Masi patterns, inspired by the hand-cut geometric quality of the art.

The font also includes the diamond which is featured at the very centre of the ‘Teteva’ symbol, the round symbol in the middle of Makereta’s work. Reminiscent of Dan Gneiding’s Ribbon font, the typeface creates a fun, youthful element to the brand.

We think it’s beautiful.

Plane Livery

The nicest part about the rebrand is how nicely it’s been integrated at every touchpoint – from the baggage tags to the blankets and pillows on board, the design touches flow through.

The motifs are subtly played throughout – from every detail down to the subtle seat patterns, to the brightly patterned pillows and dining linens.

We dig the adorable travel pack too, equipped with goodies to make your international flight more enjoyable. (We flew from Sydney to Los Angeles via beautiful Nadi.)

The uniform

Paris-born, Fijian-based fashion designer Alexandra Poenaru-Philp was selected to design the uniforms, working with Makereta’s motifs. She wanted to keep the traditions of Fiji but add a modern touch.

Alexandra says, “The aqua blue is reflective of all the beautiful blues we find in Fiji – the sky, the water. Brown is a very important colour in the tradition of Fiji, which is linked to the chief and respect.”