Northern Pacific Airways aims to be one of the newest airlines to join the aviation industry, to be the airline for Alaska, utilising the 757 they’ll be based eventually out of Anchorage, tasked with the job of creating the airline for Alaska, Edmond Huot certainly had quite the task, ensuring that not only did he meet the demands of the airlines CEO, Rob McKinney but also was careful in considering the cultures of the locations Northern Pacific would eventually head too in Asia.
During a chat earlier this year, we had the opportunity to dig deeper into the design process of Northern Pacific, the challenges and the responsibilities.
We began by discussing the importance of presenting to the client, understanding their wishes, and turning ideas into reality. The jobs freelancers undertake globally see them demonstrate such a unique skill set. Edmond said:
“I did a lot of work behind the scenes. And I was cautious about what I presented to the client or what I showed them. I don’t think I even told Rob this, but there were hundreds and hundreds of mock-ups-MCATs, tears, and a lot of editing. But it was based on themes that emerged from the overall brand ethos.“
“So one thing that I have been describing in the livery design was that I didn’t just set out to design a livery; the branding process demands a grander, broader view of the situation. So the customer, the category, and understanding some of the motifs and themes would drive the ideas that would then turn into a story that would then extrapolate into a specific design. So there was so much work that went on behind the scenes.“
Of course, with all the preparation and planning, there still can be challenges. However, Edmond believed that the mock-ups made the project such a success. Creating mock-ups made the feel of his concepts have more life to them and was appreciated by the client, who could see what the branding would look like as best as possible in the real world. Edmond said:
“One thing that I would say that helped drive that presentation to success was that, unlike other presentations to clients with livery, I invested a lot of time and effort in the mock-ups-. So I had somebody render an aircraft, an exact aircraft type, so the mock-ups- look very real. In the past, I was showing clients a very flat design, and I look back and wonder if that might have been part of the reason why the … you know, hopefully, the design itself was great, but sometimes clients need someone to bring it to life in the most realistic way as possible. And so, I decided early on to deliver a greater sort of mock-up experience or presentation. And I think they were drawn to that as well.“
“So that would be advisable to somebody if you want to convince a client of something and they’re not sophisticated. This is not a sophisticated group of like, “Oh, I used to work in American, or I used to be the VP of someone at SAS.” This is like … these are people who this is relatively new for them as well. So in that regard, I wanted to be respectful of that. And no vision, no decision, is what I say. So I tried to make the realistic mock-ups and entirely transport them based on a vision that was theirs, and then hopefully, that worked out. So I think that helped.“
Edmond highlighted the importance as well of getting an airline livery right. At the same time, he wouldn’t lose the said client after a couple of rounds if his presented work wasn’t to the client’s liking. They may very quickly start questioning the abilities and potentially begin thinking about moving elsewhere. So it is, yes, a lot of pressure, but for Edmond, it meant that with more preparation, he could present concepts that he was proud of and believed struck every critical theme that the team at Northern Pacific were looking for.
“I don’t have many kicks at the can. Like in my world, if I don’t get it right the first time, okay, not the end of the world; I got maybe one more chance. Not that the client will fire me, but the client will begin to question their own decisions, and the project’s momentum will get lost. And then you get mired in suddenly a lot of like myopic thinking. And just what I need is a client to sort of buy into the entire zeitgeist of the concept, and so we had that. And at the end of the presentation, you could feel people were bought entirely on. It doesn’t mean I didn’t have other issues, but that helped.”
“If I had more time and resources, perhaps in hindsight, I might consider doing something with motion graphics and video. But for these clients, also, you have to be careful how you manage the budgets. So I was trying to weigh the pros and cons between, like, “Okay, I’m going to hire a renderer, but I don’t know if I want to use additional resources to do video.” I probably would have done even more if I had unlimited resources and time, but I thought that was a good halfway. At least that worked. I felt well enough.”
As for inside the cabin, Edmond says this is where specific specialists went to work, and he didn’t have much say in this area. So naturally, an aircraft’s paint job differs significantly from where the customers will be sitting. However, he was happy to see that those tasked with the responsibility of the interior carefully studied his mood boards and designs for other regions of the branding to ensure continuity was felt throughout the aircraft, both inside and out.
One thing that is also evident through my chats with Edmond is his passion for design and aviation. Edmond brought that passion ferociously into the project with Northern Pacific. He even told me he had the idea to pitch a unique series of liveries for Northern Pacific, similar to what we’ve seen with British Airways’ tail liveries or, most recently, at Frontier and ANA. However, that will take a little more convincing Rob McKinney, the airline CEO Edmond, tells me.
The Northern Pacific branding is one of Edmond’s most significant projects to date and one that will soon be rolled out across Boeing 757s worldwide and hopefully seen for decades to come. With a black palette, the Northern Pacific branding oozes class and brings an ageing 757 back to life with the noticeable cockpit mask that took many attempts to get right. As stated by Edmond, they’ve looked to bring this 757 into the next era of travel.
Connect with Edmond and find more of his work at Forward Studio: https://www.forward-studio.co/