Thursday, May 20, 2021

GoAir rebranding: Fresh approach or an exercise in haste?

It has been a week since the Wadia Group-controlled airline GoAir rebranded itself. Now known as GoFirst, the ultra-low-cost carrier is focused more on the younger generation of fliers who are demanding greater value for their money when it comes to speed, convenience, and overall experience.

However, the industry is yet trying to gauge the meaning and impact of this exercise, which interestingly came through just a day before the airline announced its move to go public. 

Brand guru Harish Bijoor, founder of the eponymous Harish Bijoor Consults Inc., thinks the timing for the rebranding couldn’t be better as “it's always good to rebrand and relaunch when there is least clutter.” He, however, sees an issue in the overall approach that the airline has taken. 

Bijoor says, “The new branding is exercise is quite likely more back-end geared rather than front-end leveraged. I see more of owner-centric branding as a nudge in this, rather than a consumer-centric approach And that is its key problem.” 

Elephant Design co-founder & director Ashwini Deshpande resonates a similar sentiment: “I am puzzled with the timing and the positioning. Promising the passengers that they come first after 15 years of flying makes me wonder what came first all these years.” 

She adds, “When I noticed the Go Air rebranding announcement in newspapers, I did a double-take. Is a budget airline transforming into an exclusive First Class-only airline? That was a bold move I thought. I also recalled how Paramount Airways operated Business Class only flights and then shut down about ten years ago. Then I noticed the fine print that said the exact opposite of what I had perceived as 'First'.  A budget airline is becoming an ultra-low-cost carrier but calling itself First! That was hard to process. There are certain values, features and price tags attached to the word ‘First’ in the airline parlance.”  

Brand-comm founder & CEO Sridhar Ramanujam points out that more than a marketing activity, the relevance and subjectivity of the rebranding process should be about how the service is going to differ. “Any rebranding exercise shouldn’t just remain a cosmetic surgery. The right question to ask right now is how the service will be different. A lot will depend on the customer engagement and how it will perform when the timing is right.” 

Desphande feels, in that case, it was wise for the brand to buy time to complete work on its offerings, “With people flying only when essential (if allowed), maybe they will use the time to execute the brand refresh properly and be ready before flying returns to pre-pandemic frequency. Or maybe they have an IPO waiting. We have to wait & watch.” 

20/05/21 Mansi Sharma/Exchange 4 Media

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