Airline branding | How design can help Airliners

04.12.2009 http://www.dotkite.eu/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/DotKite_AirlineBranding_Velvet.jpg

Successful global brands all share similar elements, with this happening in airline branding as well. The key to success in the fast changing global arena is the development of unique Brand Strategies with sharp and solid methods of implementation.

How successful global brands work is a subject of much research. In the airline branding, the world’s renowned experts agree that the key to brand success lies in the development of unique positioning strategies; strategies that allow airlines to keep growing and lead the market trends.

With the civil aviation industry being a very traditional one, just like the automotive, major brands keep copying each other. In the early ‘60s, Airliners were the trend setters providing great livery and elegant in-flight experience. Nowadays, Airliners seem to have no vision, resulting in the loss of contact with their public.

With the Airliners struggling with shaping their business model and offering satisfaction to loyal customers, I strongly believe that they should take their brands more seriously to have happier customers. Therefore, I strongly recommend to every single CEO of a commercial airliner to envision a different future for the brand they manage and to offer a unique traveling experience (that starts from the time of ticket booking till the moment the passenger reaches his/her final destination) in order to have their loyal customers back.

At this point, I invite you to have a look at the unique brand experience Dot Kite | Lab developed for Velvet Airlines. If in-flight security is a major issue, then just offer a different kind of experience to the passenger by providing chop-sticks instead of the ugly and non-practical plastic cutlery!

posted  9 comments to “Airline branding | How design can help Airliners”

  1. posted by Sara on December 4, 2009

    First of all congratulations for the great and efficace brand created.
    I find that it gives the perfect and right idea of a strong and solid company. It transmets the “security” about not only the flight but all the services the company affords.
    About the question you posed. I think that in this moment thanks to airlines brands it is really clear to understand immediatly the service you will receive.
    After all, now is the war of LOWCOST flights and nobody expects a good “presence” on market in the sense not only of the service but even of the image.
    Sara

  2. Dear Sara,

    thank you for the comment and of course for your point of view.
    I fully agree with you concerning the “feeling” issue (how an airliner makes you feel just by their corporate image) and of course that Low Cost airlines lead the market to a different direction.

    Actually, I believe in the near future the Aviation industry will evolve into a “high-end-business-first-class” and Low Cost airlines. The important thing (for both categories) for the airliners will be how they are going to market their offering and how they will distinguish themselves from the rest.

    In the coming days we will post a concept about the future of the aviation industry so, feel free to come back to our website in order to review it.

    Best,
    Thomas Mylonas

  3. I agree with Thomas in challenging Airlines to differentiate themselves, and gain a competitive advantage, by offering a “unique traveling experience”. I have some thoughts regarding this topic that I would like to share.

    From the moment an individual buys a plane ticket, they enter into a contract with the Airline. They are making a conscious choice regarding their time, values, experiences, desires as well as their expectations. This applies to the low-cost Airlines just as much as it does to the high-end, luxury ones.

    Airlines connect travelers to a destination, and the experience of another place; they are both the introduction and the conclusion. In this sense, they play a significant role in: the way people engage and perceive new experiences, the way they remember and share these experiences with others, and in their choice to do it again.

    If there is to be any major shift regarding the quality of experience the common traveler has, and the relationship they build with the Airline as a result, some Airlines and their brands will need to adapt to a new way of thinking. This refers to their perception of what people want, what these people expect, and what role the Airline plays in catering to these things. Such a shift could start with developing brand strategies that extend beyond the physical boundaries of the aircraft cabin to connect all elements of the journey (before, during and after).

    Airlines should ask the following questions: How can I empower my customers? How can I facilitate what they want? How can I exceed their expectations? How can I support their lifestyle? How can I make my customer’s investment in me, the best choice they could have made? Airlines need to find their own, unique answer to the questions; What is the question to which I am the answer today? What is the question to which I am the answer tomorrow?

    An Airline is a conductor of attentions. They have an audience (possibly of hundreds), waiting in anticipation, focused on what they provide, and for hours on end. Based on this fact alone, the possibilities for design, brand and innovation are seemingly endless. I feel the realm of an individual’s experience represents the greatest opportunity for innovation in the commercial Airline industry and its brands. It is not only in this area I see the most sustainable opportunities, and (as a designer) the most exciting challenges, but it is where I see Airline brands reaching their potential in terms of delivering a truly unique and meaningful experience to their customers. I see so much opportunity on this topic, and it is one I am very passionate about.

    Here’s an idea. Consider that a person sitting in aircraft seating is not as much of a passenger, or traveler, and is more like a guest, an audience member and/or a participant (this applies more, the longer the flight is). In addition, the relationship this person has with an Airline involves experiences outside the aircraft cabin (before/after journey), just as much as it involves those inside the aircraft cabin (during). One could map the experiences, emotions and technologies involved from this perspective beginning with the moment the person decides to take a journey by plane to several days, even weeks, after they return.

    I believe that exploring these intersections and understanding the full range of customer experiences will reveal opportunities for business/design/brand that would have a strong impact on they way Airlines connect with the very individuals they serve. As designers, what can we learn from these perspectives? What new and compelling experiences can we deliver? If technological innovations like the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner, are going to ‘revolutionize the aircraft industry’, then how are we, as designers, going to revolutionize the way people experience the aircraft industry? One could even say that you cannot have one without the other.

    Terry Woods

  4. I beg to differ in one point.

    It’s not just the airlines that have lost the touch with their clients, but also the clients who most of the time choose their airline based on schedule and price rather than experience.

    Some airlines have differentiated (Emirates, Singapore, etc) and they are the ones who enjoy top client loyalty. Velvet looks like one of them and I am sure that your designs for the plane interiors would be eye candy.

  5. Dear Terry,

    I agree with all your points and I am glad to see there are more people looking at the aviation industry with a critical eye. And of course, designers could definitely help on enhancing the interior design and the experience a commercial airlines provides to the travelers.

    Best,
    Thomas Mylonas

  6. Dear George,

    I agree with you that the clients choose the airlines based on schedule and price, but I strongly believe this happens between there is not a clear difference between any major commercial airliner. Therefore, why a traveler should bother to fly with one specific airline if he/she can get same (low standards) service from another airliner?

    For this exact reason, I suggest to every single CEO of a commercial airliner to envision a different future for the brand they manage and to offer a unique traveling experience. In that way, perhaps they might have back their loyal customers.

    Thank you again for sharing with us your thoughts and I hope we can see Velvet Airlines soon flying.

    Best,
    Thomas Mylonas

  7. @ Terry
    Very insightful comments and good food for thought.

    @ George
    I believe it is both sides that play a role on that. Like everywhere, there will always be customers that will prefer the less expensive solution, focusing on the expenses and practical aspect of the service. Though, there are customers that are willing to spend more for services of higher quality. Can today’s airlines make these customers loyal? Do they offer kind of services to achieve this? I barely think so.

  8. I also agree with George’s point regarding a customer’s choice of Airline, that it is at times based on price and schedule as opposed to quality of experience. Flying on some of the top rated Airlines in the world, like Singapore, Cathay Pacific, Etihad etc., would be an exceptional experience of the highest quality, not to mention, offering an experience that would have a lasting impression on the individual. With Dot Kite’s “Total Consumer Experience”, Velvet Airlines would indeed be placed amongst the upper echelon of air travel experiences.

    With regards to the low-cost Airlines; is a competitive advantage based on ‘the lowest price’ sustainable? Perhaps in the short term but what about the long-term? Surely there is more to the future of low-cost Airlines than ‘the lowest price’. Offering a “unique traveling experience”, as Thomas mentioned, would help Airlines meet (even exceed) the expectations of their customers/guests and build loyalty, regardless of whether it is a low-cost Airline or high-end luxury one.

    Lets consider a few examples I feel we could learn from, like JetBlue Airways (main hub: JFK) and Virgin Blue (main hubs: Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney). Both are ‘low-cost’ airlines that operate domestic and international (regional) flights, both enjoy strong customer loyalty and both maintain a 4/5 star rating (according to SKYTRAX), making them the highest rated amongst low-cost Airlines.

    Another example is Porter Airlines, which is based out of the Toronto Island Airport and focuses on domestic business travelers. Launched in 2006, this airline also has 4 stars and is rated the best Regional Airline in North America (2010) by SKYTRAX. I believe this is due to Porter’s belief “that even short-haul passengers deserve a refined in-flight experience” (flyporter.com) in addition to competitive pricing. They also extend this quality brand experience beyond the aircraft cabin, offering a shuttle to and from the airport as well as executive lounges and their own full publication ‘Re: porter’. All this, while being one the smaller airlines with a 4 Star rating from SKYTRAX, with a fleet of just 17 Bombardier Dash-8 Q 400 aircraft.

    Terry Woods

  9. Valuable post! Thanx to benefit the story.

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