As we’ve said many times, logos and taglines are so incidental to the true value of a brand, but receive disproportionate focus due to their “in your face” nature. There is no better example than the airline industry, which has churned brand identities in recent years like so much butter.
Yet the brand experience – i.e., FLYING – continues to blow like Sandy.
In the past couple of weeks, we watched the anti-intellectual reaction to the first new paint job in 40-odd years for the bankrupt but Q4-profitable American Airlines. Very few mentioned the following…
The Tail of the Tale
Remember when United and Continental merged a couple of years ago? Continental’s logo took over the tail. Now, compare American's new “flag” tail to a US Airways plane.
Any day now, US Airways and American will announce a merger. This might be the first time ever that the liveries were ready long before the merged operations were.
Where’s Your Tagline?
Some of the coverage of American’s new paint job noted the absence of a new ad campaign and, yes, a new tagline. In 2012, American put on hiatus its “We Know Why You Fly” slogan (in case you didn’t catch the reference in the headline of our post) for some features-based “Be Yourself” campaigns (touting onboard WiFi).
We imagine the branding guys have been told to cease and desist on any further tagline efforts until the merger with US Airways is done. Perhaps we’ll get an interim slogan that goes to the “Your” well: “Your Travel. Your Airline.”
Or American could resurrect its post-TWA merger tagline: “Two great airlines, one great future.” No one would remember that. Again.
Who Gets Its Ad Campaign Off the Runway First?
Months later, we’ll also see some interim TV spots (best of both worlds theme, blah blah blah). US American Airlines (talk about a merger of redundant names) will beat United Continental to TV, which will be ironic.
We told you in May of 2011 here how much hard work it would take United’s new ad agency to create a brand campaign, but fully expected to see a new tagline and TV spot at least by the Fall of 2012 - a full two years after the merger with Continental.
There was no sign of either.
Just this past Friday, the bow-tied Lewis Lazare of the Chicago Business Journal wrote:
“…as it works to restore the trust of current and former customers, United apparently will do so without the help of any major new advertising initiative from its ad agency of record McGarryBowen/New York.
Sources at United said top executives at the airline believe it is important to be certain the airline is delivering a consistently great product before launching any ad campaign…”