So British Airways is planning to relaunch. Exciting news, but I have to question whether this is a relaunch of the marketing, or a relaunch of the brand. Unfortunately for BA, their marketing really doesn’t define the brand experience. Don’t get me wrong, there are some really great things about BA Terminal 5 for example is a fantastic brand experience. But no matter how great it is you don’t want to be stuck in it for the whole weekend. Their advertising is also excellent, but it’s not going to repair the damage done by constant strikes and poor customer experience.
We all know that great brands are built from the inside out, unfortunately this is a great brand that looks like it’s being eroded from the inside out. This is a challenge BA needs to tackle now.
There has been a struggle within the business for some time to define what the brand is and where it sits – this is true of much of the travel industry. Virgin’s strength is that they absolutely know what their brand is about, they tell everyone about it, then they deliver on it. BA can’t say this with anywhere near the same level of conviction and, until they can, they simply cannot compete or deliver at the same level.
BA needs to rediscover what it stands for and then position this promise as the central organising principle of the business. This needs to be believed in by, and relevant to, every single person across the organisation. In particular they need to get the cabin crew on side (and therefore the unions) as they are absolutely on the front line of brand delivery. Unless they are engaged and passionate about the business, the customer simply isn’t going to have a positive and coherent experience of the brand.
Unfortunately BA is facing a whole army of people who feel disaffected and let down. I’m a fan of BA and it’s usually my first choice. It’s the national flag carrier and as such has certain historic and emotional attachments, which many consumers feel loyalty towards. But it’s becoming harder for me to justify the reasons why I believe that. And as a customer, that isn’t a great place to be.