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Above: Unbuilt Helsinki (via)

… it’s a funny thing to take a trip, you almost never come back the same. Have you ever been tempted to get on the wrong flight? When you arrive at the airport, you check in for your flight to Helsinki but consider going to Venice instead. There’s a strong wish to react to life’s present situation, to swap one circumstance for another.

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While waiting to get on the George Washington Bridge a few weekends ago, I spotted this message written on a guard rail and captured by Flickr user glennQNYC: WE ARE STUCK HERE BECAUSE OF ASSHOLES. So true. (Kind of reminds me of photographer Lee Friedlander’s "Letters from the People" project.)

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I had a ton of fun walking around Midtown yesterday to scope out some Modernist landmarks with Alissa. She’s got a few great pics from our walk up on her site Gelatobaby, and more on her ever-growing Flickr feed. Two highlights were the Church of St Patrick (designed by Vignelli Associates), and a Rockefeller Guest House (designed by Philip Johnson) that’s tucked away on 52nd Street. Alissa’s working on a travel guide focusing on design in NYC, and I’m definitely looking forward to it.

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Launched by RISDites Melissa Small and Sarah Sandman, “The Gift Cycle is a cross country cycling project that carries works of art as gifts from local artists of one town to local artists of the next town along the route—a 3,000 mile journey uniting 12 plus communities.” Help them spread the love by donating, buying a tshirt, or joining their group on Facebook.

On the Delta/Northwest Merger

Delta logo

Northwest logo

Reporter Matt Vella from BusinessWeek and I recently exchanged emails about the complex branding implications posed by the Delta/Northwest merger. Some of our exchange found its way into Matt’s article on the merger, but I thought it was worth sharing the rest of it here. —RG

Matt: What, if any, opportunities does the merger of two tarnished brands present for “starting over”?

Rob: I’ve recently flown Delta and was really underwhelmed. But, when Delta’s low-cost airline Song was around, I flew Song and had a wonderful experience. I think this speaks to the power of what a little updated branding can do. The employees were behind that brand. They were proud of it. Yes, Delta folded it, but that had more to do with Delta’s going into bankruptcy than with Song’s failure as a brand. After Song was folded, Delta’s CEO at the time, Gerald Grinstein, noted that having an airline-within-an-airline was a difficult prospect within the industry. But everything Song was as a brand was what Delta needed to learn from and import. I don’t think that was done.

Nevertheless, brand-wise the situation is far from dire for either airline. Air travel is a difficult experience to brand because, especially recently, it has become such a uncomfortable and taxing experience. But Delta and Northwest have been around for a long time and customers know the names of these companies. So while it may not be the best time in the lives of either company, there is still a lot of brand equity and recognition there.

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