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Do US-based Legacy Carriers Have Any "branding?"  
User currently offlineNorthwest727 From United States of America, joined Jul 2005, 491 posts, RR: 0
Posted (2 years 4 months 1 week 2 days 14 hours ago) and read 6186 times:

When I look back in history; advertisements, posters, food, uniforms, interiors, etc, it seems as though the US legacy carriers used to have diverse brands. I've noticed several posts here on Airliners.net that seem to reference this fact. Of course, these observations of A.net members and I are mostly opinions, but maybe you can agree (or disagree) with me:

For example, Pan Am seemed to lead the way in international travel, with TWA following close behind (ie, the best of the best). American seemed to cater to the domestic business traveler, Braniff in its final decades, tried to reinvent itself as some sort of "fun" airline (brightly multicolored fleet, uniforms, etc), United in the 90's seemed to be a high-class, premium airline.

Now it seems as if all the legacy carriers are the same tasteless, bland shell of what they used to be. United, American, and Delta, even Northwest when it was around, through their past (or current) bankruptcies seem to try to create this illusion of a refreshed global, professional, and high-class airline. But in reality, they are all the same-ancillary fee charging, over-hyped first class, and just over-hyped experience all together. The only real brand I see among the legacies is that Continental before the merger truly tried to stay at the top in terms of customer satisfaction, and that US Airways has reinvented itself as a low-cost Ryanair "wannabie."

Do you agree with my observations, and do you think that the legacies still have any brand?

32 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineboberito6589 From United States of America, joined Nov 2009, 359 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (2 years 4 months 1 week 2 days 14 hours ago) and read 6165 times:

Quoting Northwest727 (Thread starter):
US Airways has reinvented itself as a low-cost Ryanair "wannabie."

wow. I'm not sure Ryanair wannabe is accurate description of US. I feel like that description should belong to one of the other airlines that do charge for nearly everything like NK or G4? US is just following DL/UA/AA


User currently offlineFI642 From Monaco, joined Mar 2005, 1079 posts, RR: 2
Reply 2, posted (2 years 4 months 1 week 2 days 14 hours ago) and read 6115 times:

Prior to Deregulation in the United States, the carriers brand is what helped them attract passengers.
All carriers charged the same fare, domestic flight coupons did not need endorsement to be used on
another airline.

Being different, and in the eyes of customers better is what got them passengers. Amenities
are what drew passengers to specific carriers. That's all gone. Most customers chose their
carrier based on fare. Two weeks ago flew coast-to-coast twice. NO meal service the whole
way in Coach. That's just amazing.



737MAX, Cool Planes for the Worlds Coolest Airline.
User currently offlineUSAirALB From United States of America, joined Sep 2007, 3177 posts, RR: 2
Reply 3, posted (2 years 4 months 1 week 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 6024 times:

Quoting Northwest727 (Thread starter):
US Airways has reinvented itself as a low-cost Ryanair "wannabie."

What are you talking about? This is one of the silliest things I have seen on the forum. Does RyanAir offer free drinks, first class, reclining seats in Y, checked bags, assigned seats, a frequent flyer program, a worldwide route network, an alliance, free meals on longhaul, one of the best J seats in the USA (imho)? I can keep going on... Does RyanAir offer connecting flights?



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User currently offlineJetsgo From United States of America, joined Jul 2003, 3086 posts, RR: 5
Reply 4, posted (2 years 4 months 1 week 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 6002 times:

I would say VX has done well establishing it's brand. I do NOT think US compares in any way to FR.


Marine Corps Aviation, The Last To Let You Down!
User currently offlineUSAirALB From United States of America, joined Sep 2007, 3177 posts, RR: 2
Reply 5, posted (2 years 4 months 1 week 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 5968 times:

Quoting Jetsgo (Reply 4):
I would say VX has done well establishing it's brand

I agree. They successfully marketed themselves when they were yet to launch. (The ad campaign of attractive looking people holding flags comes to mind)



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User currently offlineNorthwest727 From United States of America, joined Jul 2005, 491 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (2 years 4 months 1 week 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 5945 times:

Quoting boberito6589 (Reply 1):
Quoting USAirALB (Reply 3):

My choice of words isn't probably the best, but must I remind you that US tried charging for drinks, and of the legacies, is the closest to a full a-la-carte pricing model of the legacies. US also has threated PHL of a pullout if the airport does not reduce its fees, and it already warned and held true to its promise to PIT, just as FR has done to STN.

Quoting FI642 (Reply 2):

Interesting point I didn't think about,


User currently offlineUALFAson From United States of America, joined Mar 2004, 741 posts, RR: 4
Reply 7, posted (2 years 4 months 1 week 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 5921 times:

Not trying to be critical, and I get what you're saying, but you're not really talking about branding, or you're using such a broad definition that you could apply almost anything as an example. You're talking more about going after different market shares, but even that is very subjective and open to interpretation.

For example, I would argue that well into the 2000s before their merger with CO, UA still had that extra panache and made an extra effort to be the domestic premium airline of choice (blue and gold boarding pass card stock, classier fonts/design elements/marketing collateral). Other folks who had less pleasant customer service experiences with them than I did would disagree with me considerably. And the case would be the same for any other legacy.

What has changed in the marketplace. With the rise of the Internet and airline ticket pricing transparancy, price has become king in a way, I would argue, it never has been before in this industry. There's no value to the airlines anymore in having a prestige associated with their brand or operating loss-making prestige routes on prestige aircraft. Other than maybe reinforcing global alliances or frequent flyer benefits, the reality is most US airlines these days are pretty much the same, with perhaps some cosmetic differences, because that's what the new flying public wants.



"We hope you've enjoyed flying with us as much as we've enjoyed taking you for a ride."
User currently onlinemayor From United States of America, joined Mar 2008, 10668 posts, RR: 14
Reply 8, posted (2 years 4 months 1 week 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 5909 times:

Quoting FI642 (Reply 2):
Prior to Deregulation in the United States, the carriers brand is what helped them attract passengers.
All carriers charged the same fare, domestic flight coupons did not need endorsement to be used on
another airline.

I would propose that fares between city pairs all be the same, in the same market, no matter who the carrier is. I think they need to all compete, based on SERVICE, not price.

Or the fares could be based on zones (at least domestically, as cargo is, in some cases). The map of the U.S. could be broken up into zones and if you're flying from, say, any city in zone A to any city in zone E, the fare would be the same, no matter what carrier is doing it. The fares are simplified and then the carriers could compete on the best service.

Then you can worry about your "brand" and how the customer perceives it.



"A committee is a group of the unprepared, appointed by the unwilling, to do the unnecessary"----Fred Allen
User currently offlineaeroblogger From India, joined Dec 2011, 1363 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (2 years 4 months 1 week 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 5870 times:

Quoting Northwest727 (Reply 6):
My choice of words isn't probably the best, but must I remind you that US tried charging for drinks, and of the legacies, is the closest to a full a-la-carte pricing model of the legacies. US also has threated PHL of a pullout if the airport does not reduce its fees, and it already warned and held true to its promise to PIT, just as FR has done to STN.

US may the the closest to having a full a-la-carte pricing model of the legacies, but it certainly is nowhere near FR.

US quickly realized after beginning to charge for drinks that it was a bad idea for their brand and dropped it. That means that they still care about their brand to some extent...

I'd say that US is a profit driven carrier, not a brand driven carrier. Where developing a stronger brand translates into better profits, US does try to improve the brand. Things like first class, alliance membership, and their frequent flyer program are some examples. But frills don't fit into their business model - and the fares they charge often show it.

As for threatening the airport, I think every carrier complains about airport fees. I'm sure if MSP threatened to hike costs significantly, DL would relocate to DTW in a flash.



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User currently offlineUSAirALB From United States of America, joined Sep 2007, 3177 posts, RR: 2
Reply 10, posted (2 years 4 months 1 week 2 days 11 hours ago) and read 5742 times:

Quoting Northwest727 (Reply 6):
but must I remind you that US tried charging for drinks

I honestly don't blame them for trying. It was a failed attempt and US believed that other legacies would match it.

Quoting Northwest727 (Reply 6):
a full a-la-carte pricing model of the legacies

Name 5 things US charges for that AA or UA do not.

May I remind you that is was AA then UA that decided to charge for 1st check bags?



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User currently offlineavek00 From United States of America, joined Oct 2004, 4417 posts, RR: 19
Reply 11, posted (2 years 4 months 1 week 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 5269 times:

Quoting Northwest727 (Thread starter):

As USA legacies have painfully realized since the dawn of the 21st century -- and as European legacies are now beginning to realize -- branding based on service differentiation is of moderate benefit, at best, as the degree of market deregulation increases. When schedule and price rule in the eyes of consumers, then airline branding efforts should reflect those values.



Live life to the fullest.
User currently offlineVC10er From United States of America, joined Feb 2007, 2989 posts, RR: 13
Reply 12, posted (2 years 4 months 1 week 1 day 22 hours ago) and read 5161 times:
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On branding...

A brand is as a brand does. The United brand (right now) is defined by what they are doing or what they have done. Branding is the way they visually and verbally depict themselves. There is a big difference between "brand" and "branding" United's branding is the livery and name. When they get their "s---" together and make United a great airline their brand will be stronger. When "or if" they fix everything they may decide to change their branding to reflect the improved brand.

The airline that gets this the most is Singapore. IMHO. Their "brand" is defined by what they do. Since by popular opinion they are a great, classy and service oriented airline they have a powerful brand. Their logo and livery (which they use beautifully) is their "branding" which encapsulates all the Singapore brand does.

PanAm had the worlds best identity, and it became the hallmark of the worlds most wonderful airline. When that stopped, the logo became only a reminder of the glory days but had no commercial value anymore. I can't think of an amount of money you would have to pay Singapore for their swan symbol. Same with LH. But until US or UA improve their total experience their branding isn't worth much. (a great example is what Ford did to get financing to save the company: they put their branding up for collateral.)



The world is missing love, let's use our flights to spread it!
User currently offlinetotesen From Mexico, joined Dec 2008, 64 posts, RR: 0
Reply 13, posted (2 years 4 months 1 week 1 day 20 hours ago) and read 4655 times:

Well i do think that Delta has quite a good branding, they are marketing them self´s as a Cool Airline, with really nice ads (all black and white), the Deltalina safety video, the leather seats and wifi, premium meals for purchase, their flat bed aditions, AVOD, and the hot flight attendant dresses, even do i am quite aware that Delta is not as cool as they want it to be and as cool as they sell it, it has been greatly upgraded from what NWA and DAL used to be before the merger.

But, a part from Delta, Southwest and Virgin America i really agree with you, United to me seems very boring, i was a big fan of continental, and really didnt like UAL that much, but it seems that at least image wise and service wise they took the worse from both.

American has a nice livery, but a terrible aplication on branding, just look at their ads they are the least aspirational thing probably in the market they just throw out there somo Helvetica, to make it feel like AA. also their product and image seems quite boring, very much looking like a cheap corporate style. dont even get me started on their airport branding, sometimes is a little bit purple sometimes its plain gray, sometimes just the old american airlines logo with too much blue and too much red.

US Airways, even worse, the mix between a Cheap corporate style and a low cost style, with out the fun and young part of the LCC. Also their youtube channel sucks, it just looks too much like a home made video.



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User currently offlineAA94 From United States of America, joined Aug 2011, 605 posts, RR: 2
Reply 14, posted (2 years 4 months 1 week 1 day 19 hours ago) and read 4293 times:

Quoting Northwest727 (Thread starter):
US Airways has reinvented itself as a low-cost Ryanair "wannabie."

As noted by others, this is perhaps the silliest thing I've ever read on this forum ... I'm no fan of US, but they're hardly a "Ryanair wannabe." I'd much sooner refer to NK/G4 as a "Ryanair wannabe," and even then, there are still some differences.

Quoting VC10er (Reply 12):
A brand is as a brand does. The United brand (right now) is defined by what they are doing or what they have done. Branding is the way they visually and verbally depict themselves. There is a big difference between "brand" and "branding"

  
Glad you made this distinction.



Choose a challenge over competence / Eleanor Roosevelt
User currently offlineghifty From United States of America, joined Jul 2010, 891 posts, RR: 0
Reply 15, posted (2 years 4 months 1 week 1 day 19 hours ago) and read 4218 times:

Quoting totesen (Reply 13):
Well i do think that Delta has quite a good branding, they are marketing them self´s as a Cool Airline, with really nice ads (all black and white), the Deltalina safety video, the leather seats and wifi, premium meals for purchase, their flat bed aditions, AVOD, and the hot flight attendant dresses, even do i am quite aware that Delta is not as cool as they want it to be and as cool as they sell it, it has been greatly upgraded from what NWA and DAL used to be before the merger.

IMO, Delta probably has the most uniform brand image out of all the major US legacy carriers. The widget is quite prominent. All aircraft have blue leather seats and most have AVOD. For the most part, when you're flying Delta you know your'e flying Delta. Everything seems, like you said, "cool" and the in-flight product matches the ads. T3 is a little dilapidated but they're taking care of that.

Right now United has the worst branding. It's a strange mixture of CO/UA. Friends and family who know of my interest in aviation almost always remark when they see a UA plane with the CO globe, "I thought that was Continental's colors... ." I've never been on a pmUA plane, but I assume half of their interiors are CO with the other half being UA.. so it's not as "unified" as Delta's.

Quoting totesen (Reply 13):
US Airways, even worse, the mix between a Cheap corporate style and a low cost style, with out the fun and young part of the LCC.

I get that they try to "look" corporate, but are they really "low-cost"?



Fly Delta Jets
User currently offlineflypijets From United States of America, joined Oct 2003, 926 posts, RR: 3
Reply 16, posted (2 years 4 months 1 week 1 day 18 hours ago) and read 3900 times:

From what I can tell from the OPs post, branding = appealing to specific market segments. IF that case, yes there are market segments that the current US airlines excel.

Geography

AA has positioned itself for the LatAm market

DL and UA fight it out for TransPac

All three cover Europe well enough, with AA, JFK-LHR and oneWorld with BA and BA's presence at LHR giving them the best shot for English-only-spearkers market or Anglo aligned, if you will, and if there is such a thing. DL and UA sort of sacrifice that for the balance of Europe and will do fine, but, there is no real stratification of market there, IMHO.

US has the U.S. east coast and south traffic via CLT and DCA, they are the old Eastern Airlines. They also have a share of the North/South flow on the west U.S. coast. US does not lead in any foreign geography based market segmentation.

WN does not have a geographic stronghold either. They don't attempt to stratify market geographically. Not really, they are really a U.S. domestic carrier and are happy with that.

Of course, Alaska and Hawaiian Airlines have Alaska and Hawaii covered respectively.

Socioeconomic

Here is a bit more cloudy

I think AA tries to appeal to the 1%ers and 1%ers wannabes. Conservative, business leaders and coat-tail riders. In the back of the plane, they don't care, as long as you pay for your ticket. AA is the airline of Country Squires, Blue Blood Estates and Upper Crusters

UA and DL will duke it out for the balance of first and business class but will most likely beat the pants off of AA for the bulk of business traveler market. They are going to be the airlines of the Second Ciy Elite, Big Fish Small Pond, Movers & Shakers.

WN is going to appeal to the God's Country, New Empty Nest, Pools and Patios, New Homesteaders and White Picket Fences crowd.

US is a bottom feeder as is Spirit. With US this is going to be a significant market because of East Coast north south flow. They do well there, they stay alive becasue of it to.

HA and AS are niche players feeding a strong geographic presence, not so much a socioeconomic group. Allegiant falls into this category as well.

just my   

[Edited 2012-08-19 14:43:35]



[Edited 2012-08-19 14:56:22]


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User currently offlineCubsrule From United States of America, joined May 2004, 23308 posts, RR: 20
Reply 17, posted (2 years 4 months 1 week 1 day 18 hours ago) and read 3782 times:

Quoting flypijets (Reply 16):
Socioeconomic

Here is a bit more cloudy

The socioeconomic question is even more complicated than that because it's also tied to strength in particular markets. What you've written is most applicable in huge cities with lots of competition (CHI, NYC, LAX primarily). For the rest of us, it depends on what carrier is strong. UA probably gets many "one percenters" in IAH, while AA probably gets many of "the rest of the business travelers" in DFW. Here in BNA, WN gets a lot of business travelers - "one percenter" and otherwise - on the strength of their schedule. I don't think any of those choices are truly socioeconomic.



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User currently offlineRockinflyer From United States of America, joined Nov 2007, 232 posts, RR: 0
Reply 18, posted (2 years 4 months 1 week 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 3521 times:

Quoting USAirALB (Reply 3):
What are you talking about? This is one of the silliest things I have seen on the forum. Does RyanAir offer free drinks, first class, reclining seats in Y, checked bags, assigned seats, a frequent flyer program, a worldwide route network, an alliance, free meals on longhaul, one of the best J seats in the USA (imho)? I can keep going on... Does RyanAir offer connecting flights?

This is such a true statement. Ryanair? What have you been drinking? USAirways is a full legacy carrier and in no way an LCC. Especially no Ryanair. OMG!!!



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User currently offlineJBo From Sweden, joined Jan 2005, 2379 posts, RR: 0
Reply 19, posted (2 years 4 months 1 week 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 3431 times:

Quoting avek00 (Reply 11):
As USA legacies have painfully realized since the dawn of the 21st century -- and as European legacies are now beginning to realize -- branding based on service differentiation is of moderate benefit, at best, as the degree of market deregulation increases. When schedule and price rule in the eyes of consumers, then airline branding efforts should reflect those values.

The perfect example of this is YX. If there was any one post-deregulation U.S. airline that made its name on having unique service as part of its brand, it was Midwest. Midwest made its name on offering business-class service at premium fares during a time when people were willing to pay for the difference in service. When the economic downturn hit in the early 2000s, Midwest tried valiantly to keep its brand in spite of the changing climate but fought a losing battle. The YX brand of service was just no longer viable in the current economic climate, and that is sadly why YX is no longer with us (among other reasons).



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User currently offlinewdleiser From United States of America, joined Apr 2004, 962 posts, RR: 3
Reply 20, posted (2 years 4 months 1 week 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 3430 times:

Quoting mayor (Reply 8):

So you want to bring us back to 1978 and before? You want the government to dictate how a company can do business? You want the government to dictate what price a company can charge for service. Air travel is not right, it is a privilege. I think the government should regulate the price on LED TV's and Surround Sound Receivers. I think all LED TV's should be priced the same relevant to their size. A Samsung should be as cheap as a Westinggate. A Pioneer receiver should cost as cheap as an RCA. What about international routes? Why would domestic airfares be regulated and international routes not be? Try telling Lufthansa, Air France or British Airways how much they can charge poor little Rhonda from Cleveland trying to travel to Europe to snap some photos of the Eiffel Tower.


User currently offlinegaystudpilot From United States of America, joined Dec 2007, 457 posts, RR: 7
Reply 21, posted (2 years 4 months 1 week 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 3174 times:

Quoting totesen (Reply 13):
Well i do think that Delta has quite a good branding, they are marketing them self´s as a Cool Airline, with really nice ads (all black and white), the Deltalina safety video, the leather seats and wifi, premium meals for purchase, their flat bed aditions, AVOD, and the hot flight attendant dresses, even do i am quite aware that Delta is not as cool as they want it to be and as cool as they sell it, it has been greatly upgraded from what NWA and DAL used to be before the merger.

I think you are correct that DL is going the furtherest in trying to build a distinct brand. I don't think the brand DNA is "Cool Airline" as you suggest but "Mass Chic." In other words, not SQ but the Target (sorry for those outside the U.S.) of the airline industry.

Quoting totesen (Reply 13):
But, a part from Delta, Southwest and Virgin America i really agree with you,

I agree. WN had long maintained a distinct brand. VX is trying very hard to develop and maintain a distinct brand to try to attract a younger traveling public with money to spend.

Quoting totesen (Reply 13):
United to me seems very boring,

UA has the biggest opportunity to create a competitive global brand. However they are dropping the ball in a very bad way, especially in service delivery.

Quoting totesen (Reply 13):
American has a nice livery, but a terrible aplication on branding, just look at their ads they are the least aspirational thing probably in the market they just throw out there somo Helvetica, to make it feel like AA.

AA is just too utilitarian and bus travel-like in their branding. They have a great opportunity to shape the brand as they exit bankruptcy.


User currently offlineVC10er From United States of America, joined Feb 2007, 2989 posts, RR: 13
Reply 22, posted (2 years 4 months 1 week 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 3152 times:
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Quoting ghifty (Reply 15):

It will take years for United to be uniform across the entire fleet in everyway. The reason they made the current airline half United and half Continental was to try and make everyone happy (which nobody can do) because each airline had such different and strong cultures and strong customer loyalty. Even though UA had lost its reputation of premium service over a decade ago there were still millions of United lovers, especially premium fliers, Continental had a huge fan base due to its customer service...so the sale to employees and fliers was "the best of CO and the best of UA coming together" thus a mash up of branding - I would bet in a few years once they fix their behavior (the brand) they will need to fix their "branding".



The world is missing love, let's use our flights to spread it!
User currently offline4engines4lnghll From United States of America, joined Aug 2010, 77 posts, RR: 0
Reply 23, posted (2 years 4 months 1 week 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 3098 times:
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How do you compare an international airline with a domestic low cost piece of crap.


4engines4lnghll
User currently onlinemayor From United States of America, joined Mar 2008, 10668 posts, RR: 14
Reply 24, posted (2 years 4 months 1 week 1 day 16 hours ago) and read 3083 times:

Quoting wdleiser (Reply 20):
What about international routes? Why would domestic airfares be regulated and international routes not be?

I didn't say that......I just didn't go into it. International could be done in the same way.........international cargo rates are.



"A committee is a group of the unprepared, appointed by the unwilling, to do the unnecessary"----Fred Allen
25 flypijets : I understand what you are saying, of course where airlines are geographically strong, they are going to lead in most socioeconomic categories. Market
26 Spacecadet : You're confusing two different things. The "illusion" is part of the branding. There's the marketing and then there's the product, and these two thin
27 flypijets : I can appreciate what you are saying here, I don't agree. The product airlines have is getting you from here to there faster that any other mode of t
28 Post contains images ghifty : Yes, this I've realised. UA/CO would've been better off on deciding on ONE brand image (either pmCO, pmUA, or something completely different) rather
29 Post contains links Spacecadet : The product and the branding are two distinct things, and what you're talking about is the product. How to market things like bag fees, ticket prices
30 wdleiser : So you want to do away with Capitalism and free market enterprise and allow governmental pricing control into another industry? Since 1978 air fare h
31 mayor : Perhaps, before you reply to me, again, you actually read what I've said. I didn't say that the gov't. would control the fares, I said the airlines w
32 EaglePower83 : I think I have to agree with this. The branding to me, exasperates the "brand" and "experience" with the airline, for me. I used to be fiercely proud
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