Aviation Marketing: Defining your brand’s personality

Virgin America exemplifies their brand by portraying their customers as young, hip, and digitally connected.

Virgin America exemplifies their brand by portraying their customers as young, hip, and digitally connected.

Without a clear brand identity, you may have visibility but no personality.

“Commerce is about selling more products and services, but people are about desires and aspirations.”

Marc Gobe, Emotional Branding, Revised Edition

What do Victoria’s Secret and Virgin America share in common? Both understand the power of a brand culture and are able to translate that into a memorable brand experience. Aviation marketers that are seeking to define their brand need to consider a people-to-people marketing approach and understand that relevant brands are not based on messaging or logo design but on the experience associated with the brand.

Traditionally in the aviation industry, branding and marketing have been extensions of the manufacturing culture based on product feature and functionality. This approach is not necessarily wrong; however, it tends to create ubiquitous branding devoid of personality.  Emotionally connected brands offer the user something more. It’s the association with the brand through emotional and aspirational connections that creates brand preference and loyalty.

Business jet manufacturers understand this and play to the cultural and personal aspirations of CEO’s and such to have the best “ramp presence” or alignment with the “sports car of the sky” for their aircraft offering.

When implemented correctly, emotional branding compliments product branding by providing the human factor, bringing vision and connection with the financial, manufacturing, and marketing objectives of the company.

Matching a brand to a character association is one way to identify brand strength and relevance. Implementing this approach requires connecting with the customer on a personal level. Starting with the character’s environment helps to develop stories and scripts that resonate with the customer and peak their interest in the brand.

Virgin America exemplifies this by portraying their customers as young, hip, and digitally connected. The brand story starts to emerge, punctuated with lifestyle imagery such as the nightclub lighting when entering the plane. The digital entertainment menu in the seat back helps to define the visual platform for the basis of the branding program.

Achieving emotional branding and creating a connection with your customer base involves people at all levels of the organization sharing a vision of the brand and identifying possibilities for the brand personality.

Additional article that may be of interest on this topic:

Aviation Marketing: Emotional branding requires delivering a memorable experience

Aviation Marketing: Don’t rule out emotional connections in the purchasing process

Aviation Marketing: Emotional ties create strong brand loyalty

I’m interested in hearing from my fellow aviation marketers. What have been your greatest challenges in defining your brand’s personality? Please share your experiences in the comment section below

photo credit: thekenyeung via photopin cc

Aviation Marketing: Emotional branding requires delivering a memorable experience

Emotional memory creates a connection to the brand.

Products fulfill needs. Experiences fulfill desires.

In Marc Gobé’s book, “Emotional Branding: The New Paradigm for Connecting Brands to People,” Gobé puts forth 10 commandments for emotional branding. One I found particularly relevant for aviation manufacturers and marketers was the premise:


In aviation manufacturing, buying for a need is driven by specification, price, and delivery.  Because a majority of aviation components and systems are manufactured to meet certain specifications and perform to MIL-SPEC or DO-160 standards, there is little differentiation between branded products.

However, few aviation marketers seize the opportunity to offer the purchaser an emotional memory or a connection to the brand far beyond the need to meet specifications.

Experiences make us feel alive and connected to the people and brands associated with the experience. For example, a few years ago Honeywell brought in Jimmy Buffet to perform at their NBAA event. While on stage, Buffet spoke of the value aviation provides to his business and how he relies on the Honeywell avionics system to safely get him and his band to the next show. This memory exceeds any attribute or stated benefit of their avionics system and emotionally positions their company as one that understands the value of the customer relationship by providing an exclusive experience.

While a majority of aviation manufacturers do not have the wherewithal of a Honey-well or General Dynamics, they still should be thinking about how to provide a memorable purchasing experience nevertheless.

  • One area that can lead to brand differentiation and emotional branding is at tradeshows. Attend any aviation trade show and you will see aisle after aisle of small trade show booths, each with a header in the same position and a table at the front of the booth loaded with cheap pens, key chains, or other items emblazoned with corporate or product line logos.
  • What if you invested a little more imagination and resources into a larger booth with space dedicated to an experience? Stepping out of the B-to-B mindset and thinking like a retailer, what if you offered your customers a visit to a Parisian internet café, or a rock climbing wall, or even a 3-D movie experience about the design inspirations that led to the physical configuration of your newest product offering?

For established products to attract and retain interest, it is important to invest in innovative thinking, new channels that engage in dialogue with customers, and product launches that capture the customer’s imagination.

To purchase Marc Gobé’s book, click on the following link: “Emotional Branding: The New Paradigm for Connecting Brands to People.”

photo credit: tonyboytran via photo pin cc