Design-led thinking was British Airways’s asset

As an ex-member of British Airways’s marketing management team, I feel I must comment, more in sorrow than in anger, on the news of the disbandment of the British Airways design management team (DW 9 March).

Memories seem to be overly short as to the fact that British Airways’s very existence is due to the 1980s design-led breakthroughs in devising and introducing Club World.

From a lumbering follower of fashion within the airline business, British Airways came to be the leader in aviation terms and in the vanguard of design-led innovation generally. It also gave proof to the fact that good design makes money.

In these hugely competitive times, I am fully aware of the need to slim down the management structure of the airline, but believe that this lobotomy is one step too far.

We need free-thinking design innovators, and they need to work within a design management structure to

have the strength of voice within a company like British Airways.

To spread this group amongst a disparate set of marketing sections will be the death knell for design innovations and set the company on the slippery slope, back to a position of ‘follow my leader’ in product development. Think again Willy.

Brian Phipps, Manager, Corporate Image (1986 -1991), London

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