I'm not the biggest fan of the new font, but EADS's rebranding is long overdue. I've written an analysis on the rationale behind the new identity in the 28 September issue of Flight International. This is it:
The branding experts, at last, have triumphed over the politicians. For the first decade of its existence, EADS, or European Aeronautics Defence and Space, laboured under a logo that was as much the product of its politically arranged marriage as its cumbersome name. An amalgam of the logos of its two main heritage companies, the Franco-German-Spanish concern came into being with a brand that had little in common with those of its two best-known businesses, Airbus and Eurocopter.
EADS's image makeover - unveiled on 17 September - sees the group itself and all four of its divisions get a common typeface, and one of them, EADS Defence & Security, a new name, Cassidian. It is much more than a cosmetic exercise. It is a symbolic step in the evolution of EADS from a loose grouping of autonomous businesses with power bases in individual countries into a unified enterprise with a single strategy and chain of command to chief executive Louis Gallois. He will be hoping to finally lay to rest the cross-Rhine tensions that bedevilled the Airbus A380 programme in 2006 and led to the resignation of several top executives, as well as the long-held sceptical view that EADS has been little more than a holding company for its national and divisional assets.
Airbus, Astrium, Eurocopter and the newly-named Cassidian have different coloured logos but are all written in the same 3D, futuristic font and carry the subtitle "an EADS company". It is a big departure particularly for Airbus and Eurocopter, both of which had long-established, and very different, logos. For years, the all-powerful bosses of Airbus and the other divisions used to report only at arms length to EADS chief executives. With this change, Gallois and his executive board are saying firmly to investors they run the show.
EADS has wrestled with its brand image since it was formed in August 2000. The lack of clarity over its identity was a symptom of a much bigger malaise in its corporate structure. Its biggest division Airbus was 20% owned by BAE Systems. EADS itself had two chief executives, each representing one of its two big shareholders, who sat in separate head offices in Paris and Munich, nominally responsible for different chunks of the business. Its Spanish activities were still known as EADS Casa, and its various assets in its four home nations were distinct legal entities.
The A380 crisis - a consequence of the Toulouse and Hamburg centres of Airbus failing to communicate - coupled with a need to slash costs as a result of the weak dollar, sparked a move by the major shareholders, Lagardere of France and Germany's Daimler, to sort the problem once and for all. Gallois was appointed the first single EADS chief executive in 2007 with all four divisional chief executives, including Tom Enders of Airbus, and other chief officers reporting to him. The semi-independent EADS Casa - responsible for military transports and assembling the A400M as well as some Airbus structures - was absorbed into Airbus. Rather than simply consolidate divisional finances, EADS's chief financial officer was given a bigger role in cost control across the entire company.
It was a massive cultural change which probably helped EADS ride out relatively unscathed last year's crises around the A400M programme and the sharp downturn in commercial aircraft orders. The rebranding - details of which EADS managed to keep under wraps - is the final act in the reinvention of Europe's biggest aerospace company as it enters its second decade. The EADS that the 66-year-old Gallois will hand over to his successor is a very different beast to the disfunctional business he inherited three years ago.