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: RESPECT the customer

Customers no longer measure brands based on message, but on interactions they have with them.

Customers no longer measure brands based on message, but on interactions they have with them.

Social marketing is changing the way customers interact with your brand

My theory on why the aviation industry has been slow to adopt and implement social marketing is because aviation manufacturers are stuck in the mindset of business-to-business instead of people-to-people marketing.

The business-to-business (B2B) mindset is based on selling products and services to accounts. Contrast that mindset with people-to-people (P2P) where the emphasis is focused on improving the customer experience. Customers no longer measure brands based on message, but on interactions they have with them.

Aviation marketers that have successfully adopted social marketing understand that delivering on the brand promise can be done effectively on social platforms. Take a look at Jet Blue, Southwest, or Virgin America Airlines. Each one has been able to get tangible results through social marketing about how well they deliver on their brand promise.

Aviation marketers that choose to ignore the power of social marketing run the risk of becoming a second tier brand by not being able to monitor the customer experience in an unadulterated environment.

8 behaviors required to enhance the customer experience:

  1. Good customer relation management (CRM) starts with good traditional CRM. You cannot expect to improve CRM by adding a social component if the legacy CRM platform was not good to begin with.
  2. Customers expect more.  Resolution of problems is a given. Now, customers expect a brand to be proactive within the community of users.
  3. Build customer empathy at all levels of interaction. This should be the golden rule for sales, marketing and customer service – Treat customers as you would like to be treated yourself.
  4. Everyone is a representative of the brand. It only takes one bad experience to drive a customer to a competitor.
  5. Talk with the customer, not at the customer. Customers can tell when the conversation is scripted. Authentic conversation starts with empathy for the customer’s situation and offer of a resolution based on a thorough understanding of the product and service offering.
  6. Don’t leave customers waiting. We live the era of real time engagement. Responding to a customer service issue in 24 hours is not acceptable.
  7. Use social media platforms for problem solving. Enabling self-help through social platforms spreads knowledge and customer feedback across the community of users.
  8. Change the way you measure customer satisfaction.  Backward looking measurements that tell you what happened are no longer as effective. Consider a forward looking measurement like a net promoter score that tells you how satisfied your customer is with your service or product offering.

People-to-people marketing is the measure of brand engagement. Creating trust through conversation and helping customers solve problems builds brand loyalty.

Additional article that may be of interest on this topic:

Why people-to-people marketing is replacing business-to-business in the aviation industry.

Designing a social marketing strategy for Aviation Marketing

Aviation Marketing: Generate More Revenue by Providing a Better Brand Experience

I’m interested in hearing from my fellow aviation marketers. What have been your greatest challenges in implementing social marketing? Please share your experiences in the comment section below.

photo credit: Graela via photopin cc

Aviation Marketing: Customer Insights or Blinding Glimpse of the Obvious?

Captain Obvious

Insights are not shiny objects. Many times insights are buried in the customer’s emotional connection to the brand.

Good aviation marketers believe that customer insights form the foundation for brand strategy. Being able to identify insights about product functionality, user preferences, and emotional connection to the brand help to formulate the brand promise and gives the brand its “reason for existence.”

5 questions to ask when determining true insights:

  1. Does product/service use reveal something about the target audience’s mind set?
  2. Does the functional benefit of the product/service provide the greatest value to the customer?
  3. Does the product/service make customers feel better about themselves?
  4. Does the product/service create lasting value?
  5. Does the product/service act as an internal point-of-view for the brand?

If you can answer yes to the above questions, odds are you have insight for building a strong brand.

5 ways to differentiate insights from merely interesting information:

Insights reveal more about the target audience than about the product or service.

Does the insight identify a particular lifestyle or point-of-view?

Can the insight be traced back to social cause, use a technology or a political leaning?

Insights are more about the category than the brand.

Owning the category benefit is considered an indication of brand leadership.  United Airlines positioning, “Fly the Friendly Skies,” used until 1996, helped to drive category leadership.

Insights reveal more about how people feel than what they think.

Feelings connect to our deepest needs and values. Find an insight based on an emotion and you can build a brand with which people connect. Virgin American continues to demonstrate this approach with mood lighting, advanced cabin technology, and a hip attitude.

 Insights focus on what is enduring, not the latest fad.

Fads come and go. Successful brands focus on staying true to their core values and articulate these through employee/customer interactions. Southwest Airlines’ core value of on time departures and arrivals has not changed in over 40 years.

Insights stimulate new ideas.

Real insights challenge companies to act in new ways. What a frequent flyer considers important is different from what a vacation traveler considers important. Insights can lead to improvements in specific customer segments.

Being able to determine the difference between what is an insight and what is just interesting affects brand leadership. At the same time, don’t reject an insight just because it seems obvious.

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Aviation Marketing: Why marketing fundamentals are important in social media marketing

Airline Social Media Scorecard

Point-of-view marketing through social media can very effective when supported with proper brand positioning.

Successful aviation brands at their core hold a philosophy about how they will conduct their business, treat their employees and customers, and contribute to the betterment of the aviation industry. In social media terms, this is the brand’s point-of-view.

Just as the brand’s point–of-view provides a rich area for social engagement, aviation marketers must identify the brand’s value proposition and unique selling proposition (USP) to create a sustainable, healthy brand.  For aviation marketers this represents a convergence between brand positioning, product & service attribute/benefits, and brand beliefs and philosophy.

Value Proposition – The benefit your product or service delivers to your customers. The value proposition is the fundamental positioning of where your product or service sits on the spectrum of customer needs. In analog terms, it’s the 60-second elevator speech that explains your company’s offering.

Value proposition positioning:

  • Quality leader – brands that set the quality standard for that business segment
  • Low cost producer – brands that demonstrate best quality-to-price ratio
  • Service leader – brands that provide the longest warranty or most desirable return policies

Unique Selling Proposition (USP) – A description of your product or service that differentiates it in a way that will make customers prefer and purchase your brand over the competition.

Unique Selling Propositions are based on attributes and benefits of your product or service that set it apart from the competition. Examples include:

  • Small size – uses less cockpit real estate
  • Lightweight – fuel efficient
  • Solid state technology – reliable
  • Delivered on time – meets your production schedule
  • AOG service capability – global service centers

Point-Of-View Marketing

Point-of-view marketing is about communicating your brand story. This is important in social media because it invites engagement, opening dialog between your brand, customers, and prospects.

Point-of-view is about what your brand believes and your philosophy on how a market should best be served. An ideal document to lay the foundation for point-of-view marketing is your company’s mission statement.

Point-of-view marketing can take many forms. These may include:

  • Social causes – Veterans Airlift command
  • Environment – biofuel, sustainability, green building practices
  • Product design – aesthetically pleasing, recycled materials
  • Integration – open source code compatibility
  • Simplicity – intuitive use sans complexity
  • Best-in-class – we produce one product and do it well

Interesting point-of-view marketing can drive social engagement. However, one should take into account that brand authenticity and a differentiated, unique selling proposition form the foundation for a brand’s success in the battle for brand supremacy.

photo credit: Mark Fidelman via photo pin cc