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It’s Official! DELTA Airline’s New Uniforms Are Here!

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Delta Airline LogoWell, it is official! DELTA uniforms are released. I must say, it is well overdue! This was not an easy task. I know, because I worked with the Delta Brand Team on personal branding for its Field Service Managers (FSM) for the past three years. Believe me when I tell you, these folks work tirelessly behind the scene to ensure that the flight attendants are flight-ready for the thousands of customers they encounter each day.

During these sessions I would talk about how important it is to be consistent in all that one does when building a personal brand and how one’s image is critical in building his or her personal brand. Oftentimes I would refer to what is now the old uniforms as an example of how inconsistency can impact one’s brand. The old uniforms did not send a consistent, concise, branding statement to the marketplace. Not from a color perspective, as the flight attendants wore the DELTA red, white and blue colors; but instead, it was more about styling.

It seems that there were so many style choices for the flight attendants to choose from that it created many different looks. What ended up in the aisles of the plane was an inconsistent branding statement in the minds of the customers. Why is this important? Because a flight attendant is the face of DELTA and it is the flight attendants that impact the DELTA brand. My thought was that perhaps DELTA was trying to accommodate 30K plus individual styles, which as you can imagine is an impossible goal, until now.

designer zac posenHow? By DELTA engaging clothing designer, Zac Posen, to create a new line of uniforms for the flight attendants. It seems that DELTA has created a strong branding statement now with fewer styles, which accommodates all body types well. According to bustle.com, Mr. Posen even “worked” throughout DELTA to get an idea of what flight attendants actually do in their jobs in order to create functional, yet stylish garments.

(Click here to see how else DELTA is listening to their employees!)

According to Gil West, Delta’s Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, the uniforms will also help build on the team members’ sense of pride as they service DELTA customers worldwide. This sense of pride when building a personal brand for the flight attendants is critical. At “CHUVA beyond”, we believe that it is this personal sense of pride that creates confidence and it is this confidence that is the foundation for building a personal brand. When you build an employees’ personal brand, you build the organization’s brand.

Delta airlines uniform(picture from bustle.com)
The most noticeable thing with the uniforms is that Mr. Posen incorporated a color that is not from DELTA’s brand colors which are red, white and blue. He chose a color that when you mix red and blue you get purple. He calls this color “Passport Plum”, (if that is what he did) but I might call it purple as many do in the media blitz, (some often correcting themselves to plum, not purple.) Why? Technically, plum is a cool color (blue-based) and purple is neither warm nor cool, making it a neutral color. Semantics? Maybe. After all, we are talking fashion and fashion often uses color names that are not relevant to their origin of color.

Without knowing the actual PMS colors that makeup “Passport Plum” I could not tell you what the actual color is. PMS stands for the “Pantone Matching System.” Pantone’s color matching system is known worldwide as the standard language for accurate color communication and works for print, fashion, home, plastics and more. For example, when we designed the uniform for GM’s auto shows, we had the jackets, for both men and women, dyed the PMS color of GM’s logo blue color. We were able to match the exact color to GM’s logo blue color, which was already in printed materials and video, because of its PMS category. Again, consistency is key when maintaining one’s brand.

Although purple is a universal color, plum is its cousin. It is what I call a “dark neutral”. “Dark neutrals” are more versatile, unlike DELTA’s original red color, which Mr. Posen coins as “Cruising Cardinal”. I like how the designer ties in the color names with the industry.

Cool colors have a blue undertone and warm colors have a yellow undertone. “Cruising Cardinal” is a blue-based red color, such as an “apple-red”, as opposed to a “tomato-red”, which has a yellow undertone and is a warm color.

A blue-red color might be a PMS 193C color and a “tomato-red” might be a PMS 18-1660 TCX color. Whether I want to dye a fabric a specific color or print it on a business card, by designating the PMS color, one can get an exact, consistent match.

The color cherry red apple-red (cool)     The color dark tomato red tomato-red (warm)

Although “Passport Plum” appears to be more of a purple, regardless, it is such a great color, particularly for women because whatever lipstick color they choose to wear, more than likely, it should go well. This has been a major problem in the past for DELTA flight attendants and is what made the “uniform” not seem complete. Here’s why.

Delta airlines red uniform(picture from bustle.com)
DELTA’s “Cruising Cardinal”, as I mentioned is a cool color, therefore a red, cool colored lipstick works best. The challenge for those flight attendants whose overall personal coloring is warm. When it came to wearing the “Cruising Cardinal” color with a cool red lipstick to harmonize with the uniform, it clashed with the flight attendant’s personal coloring, creating a look that was harsh. Hopefully, this new color will reduce the amount of these type mistakes, as they have options now to wear a color where the make-up is flattering to their own skin, hair and eye colors, giving a great polished look while interacting with their clients.

the four elemental color palettesCHUVA beyond has created an APP called the Elemental Color Palettes to guide professionals on making great color choices for wardrobe, hair color and makeup when building a professional wardrobe. The APP consists of 4 palettes called: Fire, Earth, Air, and Water. Fire and Earth are warm palettes and Air and Water are cool palettes. In the APP we discuss what makeup colors work well with the wardrobe colors.

For example, a warm flight attendant when wearing “Passport Plum” might consider wearing the following lipstick colors from our APP. Fire: apricot, coral pink, peach, warm pink, poppy red. From the Earth palette, one might consider the following lipstick colors: bittersweet, salmon, mahogany, tomato red.

FIRE

the color peach peach      The color Coral Pink coral pink     the color sunset pink warm pink     the color Poppy Red poppy red

EARTH
The color bittersweet bittersweet     The color salmon salmon     the color mahogany mahogany (darker skin tones)     The color dark tomato red tomato red

Flight attendants with cool coloring, Air and Water, might consider wearing the following in lipstick colors. For the Air palette, she might wear: plumb, deep rose, carnation, or watermelon. For the Water palette she might wear: cherry red, vivid cranberry, dark purple or true red.

AIR
the color plum plumb     The color deep rose deep rose     The color carnation carnation    teh color watermelon watermelon

WATER
The color cherry red cherry red      The color vivid cranberry vivid cranberry    the color blue violet dark purple (darker skin tones)    The color true red true red

Delta airlines male uniform(picture from bustle.com)
Then there is the “Groundspeed Graphite” color, mostly worn by the men; however, when women wear it, a warm or cool red lipstick will work great! It is a medium gray color. Gray is difficult to wear, unless it is a medium to darker gray tone, and/or you have gray in your hair. With that said, the gray that Mr. Poser has selected is great. It’s not too dark, creating a more conservative, old feel, and it’s not too light, which would “wash-out” the coloring of most flight attendants, regardless of their gender.

The line is manufactured by Land’s End. It looks like a match made in heaven. Click here to learn more about the process. Be sure to watch the video. Congratulations Ekrem, GM of the Delta Uniform Program. It seems that it’s a huge success. To you and your team, job well done!!

The uniforms have styles to accommodate all body type. Not an easy thing to accomplish. According to Mr. Poser, each employee is fitted by a tailor before ordering and gets the garments fitted to the body perfectly. This will definitely enhance the DELTA brand statement.

The uniforms were everywhere yesterday. In Atlanta, the CEO of DELTA, Ed Bastian, said the airline’s investment in the uniform rollout “is probably in the $20 million range.” I have a feeling that this will be a great return on their investment.

Spanx’s CEO, Sara Blakely, was part of the fanfare, where her organization provided undergarments for some workers.

DELTA, well done! Mr. Poser, very well done! I am proud that our city’s airline has raised the bar for US based airlines to follow.

Here are few more links where releases were happening.

Atlanta
Minneapolis and Los Angeles
Uniform Compliant Change

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