We got to name a supersonic passenger jet
What else can we say? This was the opportunity of a lifetime. Working alongside our design partners Manual and Boom Creative Director, Chester Chipperfield, we went about naming, positioning, and branding a 55 seat passenger plane that will reach a top speed of Mach 2.2. Boom already has pre-orders from Virgin Atlantic and JAL.
Speed is secondary
We worked with the Boom leadership team at their hangar outside Denver, Colorado — building the brand as they built their first test plane. We dove deep into the history of aviation, jet engines, test pilots, supersonic transport and materials design. This compelling research assignment gave us the foundation we needed to understand the historical context of this plane and what it means for transportation. The jet age started in the 50s and we’re still in it 70 years later. This plane has the ability to change all of that.
When you think of a supersonic jet, the first thing that comes to mind is speed. But speed is just means to an end. Speed in service of what? This was one of the ideas at the core of this brand. This plane will let you take trips that you wouldn’t have considered before. New York to London and back becomes an easy day trip. Speed also happens to be undifferentiated with all the falcons, hornets, and raptors out there. In the same way that jet engines made Hawaii a vacation destination and baseball a national sport, supersonic planes will bring the world that much closer together.
There was also the elephant in the room – Concorde. From 1976 to 2003 you could fly supersonic on select routes from Air France and British Airways aboard the Concorde. For many, supersonic transport and Concorde are one and the same. We knew the name needed to match the gravitas of Concorde while being able to easily stand on its own.
Speak to something bigger
Separate from the pack
We were looking for a name that would stand out in a sea of alphanumerics. Why sound like a 737 or A320 if we’re trying to signal a separation from the pack? The name needed to work on its own and alongside Boom. Considering the Boom name is powerful and energetic, we wanted a name that balanced it out with some stability and resilience. Lastly, we were looking for a name befitting of an icon. When this airliner takes flight, its name will be heard in hangars, cockpits, and boardrooms the world over. When the first passengers take their seats and fasten their seatbelts, it will be aboard Overture.
An overture is an introduction — in music and now in flight. Boom is introducing a new plane and reintroducing supersonic travel to airline passengers. The name has “over” in it, subtly signaling it will be literally 30k ft over traditional jetliners. “Over” is also extendable when talking about over-water and, one day, overland routes. The name was an immediate favorite from our first round of work.
When it comes to traveling, the flight is just the beginning of the experience. Once Manual got to work bringing Overture to life visually we turned our attention to the brand story and positioning. How does Overture fit into the world? How will it improve lives? We set out to build clear and compelling context around the plane.