BA’s Campaign Proves to Go Forwards You Sometimes Need to Look Backwards
I rather like British Airway’s ‘To Fly, To Serve’ campaign. As a marketer it appeals to me on several levels.
Firstly, it’s focusing on what is perceived as a core brand strength – service, delivered in a distincly British way. As BA’s MD of Brands and Customer Service, Frank Van Der Post, put it:
‘BA is a very strong brand. We do not need to reinvent ourselves as something else. What we need to do is to tell the story a little louder.’
Secondly, they’re backing words with actions – £5bn of investment in new aircraft, new cartering and new technology to enable their staff to deliver better service and their customers to better serve themselves (i.e. the ability to print their own luggage tags at the airport).
Thirdly, they’re involving their staff – which makes sense as your staff are at the core of any service proposition. Not only are they focusing aspects of the campaign on specific staff and their stories, but they clearly see re-instilling staff pride in the brand is as important as re-instilling our pride in the national flag carrier. The ‘To Fly, To Serve’ positioning is not only something for staff to rally around, it’s a challenge they for them to live up to.
Fourthly (!?), the agency has had the courage to say something that’s already there will do the job rather than trying to be clever and inventing something new. That’s brave, and it’s a bravery that many marketers don’t display in their haste to ‘put their stamp’ on the brand.
In ‘To Fly, To Serve’ BA’s agency, BBH have unearthed and lovingly restored something right at the foundations of the brand – a bit like a marketing ‘Time Team’. For me, it highlights we should all be great students of our brands – brand archaeologists, so to speak – as often we’ll need to look backwards to inspire our brands to go forwards.
When I was at Simply Travel, we didn’t need to look back that far but just glancing at the brochure covers from 5-10 years previously of women herding sheep in Crete reminded us that the core appeal of the brand was the ability to transport people to places from which they could enjoy their own authentic experiences. Our brand was more about the authenticity of a place than the facilities of the accommodation.
I should imagine that there are many travel brands out there that have lost their way – in the search for growth and new customers they’ve compromised the core essences of their brands. And if your potential customers start to get confused about what you stand for, your ability to command a premium erodes away.
I’m not saying travel companies shouldn’t innovate, but see your brand as a house. Make tasteful alterations to exterior and interior to bring it up to date, but don’t mess with the foundations otherwise you’ll bring the whole thing toppling down.