Saturday, October 09, 2021

Air India Brand Journey: Of Pride, Prudence, Panache

The airline seeded as a thought and piece of the initial action in 1932 by JRD Tata, had really come to fly high in the reputation market for airline brands. And then came the decline — standards fell, discounted tickets became the norm, and the brand lost its allure. 

In the most recent decades, the brand has been through its worst years yet. Communication became basic and functional, and the in-flight experience was often criticised to be below par. 

The merger of Indian Airlines and Air India, losses on the books, the subsequent re-branding into ‘Indian’, and eventually back into the ‘Air India’ brand tag took its toll. 

The brand today represents a kind of confusion. A confusion that needs to be sorted by its new owners, whoever they are to be. 

I have pored through numerous old posters that represented the beauty of India in their unique manner. Many of these remain black and white posters that capture the warmth of India in the cold skies. Some of the colour posters that came by represented India and the many cities Air India flew to. Each had the name of the location and each was a piece of art in itself. Drawings and paintings that etched out the detail and had one looking into them for a while. 

To an extent, all that Air India did had a basis in art. The window in the sky had a palace kind of feel in its design, the tail looked different, the name of the aircraft was an exotic name of an Indian king personalising it all, and every small input was artistic in its detail.

While the entire airline world looked spic and span with its straight-line design and articulation, Air India was a cursive design all its own! 

As the days went by, its ambitions grew and the tale of the Salvador Dali designed ashtrays Air India presented as gifts to its flyers makes for the legend of Air India. Air India branded for sure. Branded big. Branded personal. With panache!  

09/10/21 Business World

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