Wednesday, September 29, 2021

An airline brand takes a return flight

Those who regularly flew in the business or premium economy class of Jet Airways still believe it was the best private airline to have ever flown in the Indian skies.

But what made Naresh Goyal’s Jet Airways better than other red-liveried full-service carriers of the past decade?

Mainly the attention one received on the rarefied upper decks, that had wider seats, tastier food and better wine.

The lesser privileged travellers queued up before Jet counters to benefit from the loyalty programmes that the carrier dished out quite generously.

“The Jet Privilege Miles programme was very popular among frequent flyers. It managed to attract a lot of loyal customers,” says the fund manager of a mid-sized mutual fund house, who always preferred Jet over other carriers.

The news of Jet Airways resuming operations from next year, albeit under a new management, has given fans a reason to cheer. But nobody knows for sure if the new-form Jet will be the same as old.

The positioning of the revived carrier (whether it will be a budget or a full-service carrier) or its branding strategy is not clear. The sober navy blue-chrome yellow-light grey colours and that unmistakable ‘flying sun’ logo of the old Jet Airways will be sorely missed if the new management decides to go for a complete brand overhaul.

“An aviation company has to do both, intrinsic and extrinsic branding. While extrinsic branding is all about advertisements and other creatives, it is intrinsic branding that brings in customer loyalty,” says Harish Bijoor, a prominent brand consultant.

“The intrinsic branding of old Jet Airways was very strong. Their service was very good in the upper classes. This has created a lot of fond memories among frequent flyers. So that brand equity is there for the new management to grab,” he adds.

There are 19 “touch points” in the aviation industry that can create intrinsic brand value, according to consultants. This starts right from the point of booking a ticket, to designated ushers at the airport, counter staff, baggage handlers, air hostesses and other crew, food and ambience and inflight services. “The new Jet will have to get all these points right to regain the trust of their customers,” says Bijoor.

In terms of extrinsic branding, creative heads of leading advertising firms feel that the management should retain the liveries and logos of the old Jet.

29/09/21 Shailesh Menon/ETBrandEquity

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