Friday, December 02, 2022

Time up for Air India's Maharajah? Tata hires British consultancy to redraw branding strategy for group airlines

Air India has roped in British brand and design consultancy firm Futurebrands to rework the Tata Group airline’s branding strategy. Futurebrands, which has worked with American Airlines and automaker Bentley, will redraw Air India’s identity to make it more appealing to a global audience, reported Economic Times newspaper.

The airline may also be considering a new mascot as the 76-year-old ‘Maharajah’ is regarded by some within the company as ‘outdated’. The Air India mascot first made an appearance in Air India way back in 1946, when Bobby Kooka as Air India's Commercial Director and Umesh Rao, an artist with J.WalterThompson Ltd., Mumbai, together created the Maharajah. The airline is not using the Maharajah logo in its campaigns of new destination launches.

No concrete decision has been taken yet as the airline is yet to consider factors and will only take a call based on the consultant’s report, cost estimate, and positing strategy that the airline intends, the report added citing an internal source. But, the airline needs to be rebranded in order to take on global rivals such as Emirates and Singapore Airlines, it added.

The airline has also hired former MakeMyTrip executive Sunil Suresh as its chief marketing officer, and Colin Neubronner, who conceptualized the branding of Singapore Airlines and Jet Airways, to its new brand-building team.

Rebranding for the airline is even more important now that the Tata Sons looks to merge its four airlines into two companies.

Tata Sons plans to merge Vistara with Air India to create a full-service airline by 2024, and is in the middle of merging AirAsia India and Air India Express to crate a low-cost airline.

As part of the merger strategy, the salt-to-software conglomerate plans to phase out Vistara, while retaining some of branding elements for the merged airline.

The low-cost airline to be created by merging AirAsia India and Air India Express will also have a new brand identity, the report added. Tata Group needs change the branding of AirAsia India by 2023, as part of the agreement under which it was acquired from Malaysia-based Air Asia group.

02/12/22 ET Now

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