exhibits

History

Delta Brand

Delta's Corporate Logo: The Widget

Introduced in 1959, as Delta entered the Jet Age with its first jet service

The Triangle Shape
  • Resembles the swept wing appearance of a jet flying overhead. 
  • Represents the capital letter "D" of the Greek alphabet, which is delta ∆.

The Name "Delta"

The name "Delta" comes from the Mississippi River Delta region, the principal area of operations for Delta Air Service in 1928, when it formed out of crop-dusting company Huff Daland Dusters of Monroe, Louisiana. 

Catherine FitzGerald (picture) is credited with coining the name "Delta." She was one of the first women directors of an airline from 1930-1934, executive secretary to Delta’s principal founder C.E. Woolman from 1926-1966, and also served as assistant treasurer.

jet_widget
Bragg_DeltaWidget

Inspired by Jets

Photos of the "delta wing" shape of a military jet flying overhead sparked the Delta Widget. Richard Maurer, Delta senior vice president—general counsel and secretary, noticed the similarity between the Greek delta triangle and the shape of the new jets, and shared his thoughts with Delta’s advertising agency Burke Dowling Adams (BDA) in a letter in 1955. 

See Letter and Jet Photos that inspired the Delta Widget.

Robert Bragg, vice president at Delta’s advertising agency Burke Dowling Adams (BDA), is credited as designer of the Delta Widget. 

At left, you see a rare work-in-progress drawing of the Delta Widget logo that Bragg developed from a jet silhouette and triangle. Digital image provided by Eve Bragg in loving memory of her husband Bob, 2004. 

Color Values

The Widget evolved from Royal Jet Service emblem into Delta's corporate logo by 1962, and was in use for the next fifty years. Delta's advertising department invested values into each of the logo's colors of red, white and blue and its strong triangle shape:

  • "The blue portion points to the sky where we fly—the point represents the pinnacle of professional achievement." 
  • "The swept wing of the jet is represented by the broad white 'V'." 
  • "The flat broad base suggests Delta's solid foundation. Colored red, it can be regarded not only as the exhaust behind the jet but also the flame of leadership that keeps the point headed upward."

Soft Widget

Delta’s mark for half a century got a modern touch in March 2000. The traditional angle of the red triangular base was replaced with a curved line.

Delta described the design philosophy behind the new "softer" widget, developed by Landor:

"Research has told us the logo device is hard and militaristic, not warm, approachable. To retain a link to the past while moving us into the 21st century, we can better align the new version to our current strategy and our efforts to be the passenger's airline. We keep the strength of the mark, but make it warmer, softer, more inviting, thus the curved edges."

Return to Heritage Widget

Based on employee feedback from road shows with CEO Gerald Grinstein, as well as nostalgia surrounding Delta’s 75th anniversary of passenger service, Delta returned to its traditional widget design on July 29, 2004. 

Red Widget

Modern 3-dimensional red Delta Widget introduced on April 30, 2007, the day Delta exited from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Reflects Delta’s successful transformation into "a highly-differentiated, customer-focused airline." Also honors the most famous version of the Delta Widget, maintaining its sharp lines and vertical position.

Lippincott Mercer developed Delta's new look. “The brand identity program signals to the world that Delta is eager to regain its leadership position and is committed to improving the customer experience,” said Creative Director Connie Birdsall. "Delta's updated look is bold and confident and connects to the customer with honesty, respect and authenticity."

The Delta Brand Council, a cross-divisional team, also contributed to the transformation process, for the first time incorporating the voices of Delta employees into a brand change.   

For more details, see the Delta Brand Fact Sheet 2007

More Information

1959 Delta Royal Jet Service Brochure: See the Widget in its first use as symbol of deluxe jet service.

Delta Stories: How Delta Became "Delta": Learn the origin of the name Delta.

Star Spangled Delta: Delta's Widget gets stars and stripes for 1976 U.S. Bicentennial.

Keep Climbing: Fun with the Widget on Delta's Blog