To practically everyone in the helicopter industry, Bell has always been Bell, despite official names like Bell Helicopter Textron, Bell Helicopter, or even Bell Aircraft if you go that far back. So to rebrand the company from Bell Helicopter to Bell, means very little indeed to anyone in the Helicopter industry, or even the aviation industry.
Bell’s ambitions appear to be greater than that. Going through this rebranding exercise, the Texas-based company appears to be trying to emulate what Apple did in moving from Apple Computers Inc to Apple Inc in January 2007. By removing a product name from its title, the company aims to stretch itself wider – right at the time it works with Uber on an aerial taxi, and shows the likes of its FCX-01 concept around the world. CEO Mitch Snyder is quoted as saying “We chose to do this [rebranding] because we see ourselves at the forefront of technology”. So far so good.
Snyder goes on to create limits for his own and the company’s ambitions by adding “We believe this refresh embodies the idea that we can make the vertical dimension more accessible”. This quote ties them inextricably to aviation and perhaps even to the rotary wing industry, unless they want to expand into tower cranes, which seems unlikely. If a company has created a reliable and dependable name for itself in the way Bell has, purchasers could be tempted to buy a completely unrelated product with the same branding. Would you buy a Mercedes-Benz branded vacuum cleaner, on the assumption the company ensures the same quality standard with other products that it does with its cars? Do consumers care that many Armani branded watches are made by US company Fossil? Bell have a long-standing trust from customers for their service, so we could be tempted to buy, say, Bell car insurance on that basis. Bell could be missing a trick by limiting themselves to the ‘vertical dimension’.
The dragonfly logo was the least expected aspect of the new corporate image. The global branding and design consultancy used by Bell – FutureBrand – may not have done sufficient research, but certainly the executives at Bell should have known and rejected the dragonfly as its logo. In the helicopter industry, the Dragonfly is either an unsuccessful two-seater helicopter from Italy, or the name Leonardo predecessor Westland gave to the Sikorsky S51 they built under licence around seventy years ago. Neither of which Bell should expect to be associated with. The previous Bell logo worked well, and could easily have been retained for continuity and a significant cost saving. Apple didn’t change their logo when they dropped ‘Computer’ from their name in 2007.
Jeremy Parkin – HeliHub.com
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