17 February 2019
Dragonair has been renamed Cathay Dragon and given a new logo (inset). Netizens commented that the symbol can be confused with that of Turkish Airlines (R). Photos: HKEJ, Internet
Dragonair has been renamed Cathay Dragon and given a new logo (inset). Netizens commented that the symbol can be confused with that of Turkish Airlines (R). Photos: HKEJ, Internet

Why Cathay, HKEx rebranding moves haven’t received many ‘likes’

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos once said: “Your brand is what other people say about you when you are not in the room.”

Given this truism, the rebranding moves of Cathay Pacific group and Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing (HKEx) have not exactly been a huge success.

As Cathay has rebranded its unit Dragonair as “Cathay Dragon” and unveiled a new logo for the carrier, the initial reactions and “likes” on social media haven’t been too good. 

Netizens ridiculed the new livery of Dragonair, one of Hong Kong’s most iconic brands, saying the brushwing logo looks like Chinese shark fin.

Because of its red color, Cathay Dragon now looks very much like Turkish Airlines, some people commented.

Cathay did the rebranding exercise as it sought to align the parent and the unit more closely with a common brushwing logo, albeit in different colors.

Bearing in mind the sentiments of locals, Cathay however decided to keep the two iconic dragons on the body of the subsidiary’s planes.

In June 2006, Cathay took full control of Dragonair, which flies to nearly 200 cities but is focused chiefly on mainland routes.

It took nearly 10 years before Cathay decided to unify the brand, the last important step to mark the integration of the two airlines.

Cathay CEO Ivan Chu said in a statement Thursday that the “rebranding will sharpen our competitive edge by offering an attractive Cathay-led brand package that carries the assurance of a consistently high-quality customer experience.”

However, Cathay and the unit will remain as two separate airlines, operating under their own individual licenses, he said.

The rebranding exercise will cost around HK$100 million, with the first Cathay Dragon expected to go up in the sky after the Lunar New Year.

But netizens are not impressed because they feel the motive behind the new livery is this: pleasing the mainlanders.

Members of Dragonair’s founding Chao family have also said that they are sad to see the old logo gone after being used for more than 30 years.

Talking about logos, stock market operator HKEx also received mixed reviews after it unveiled a new corporate identity this month.

The new logo had the last character “X” split up into two “C”s, which one can easily associate with “China”, especially as the inverted “C” was bathed in red color.

The planet background in the old logo, which was adopted in 2000, signified the exchange’s global ambition.

But now it has given way to the X sign, a sign for super connector, indicating the bourse’s new emphasis on China links through programs such as the Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect.

To promote the new identity, HKEx chief executive Charles Li went the extra mile as he ordered a dessert in the shape of the new logo.

It is reasonable to conclude that Cathay and HKEx have both chosen to add more red to gain traction with mainlanders.

While it may be a sensible business decision, it may take a while for Hong Kong people to accept the new identity – especially given the widespread suspicions about Beijing.

But then almost every new logo has to go through a hate-to-love process.

The initial bad publicity won’t matter, a marketing expert once told me, because it is better to be talked about rather than be ignored.

For now, let’s wish good luck to HKEx and Cathay Dragon!

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HKEx changed its logo from a sphere-shape (left, inset) into one where the character X now looks like two Cs glued to each other — perhaps in reference to China. Photos: HKEx, Apple Daily

EJ Insight writer

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