As a frequent flyer and someone who specialises in branding, I admit to being taken aback when I was asked to pay for food and drink on one of world’s top airlines. BA introduced this policy last year in the economy class of their short haul flights. Doubly strange maybe, when we remember that this was the national flag carrier, who had asked us to see them as ‘The world’s favourite airline’. How was this brand identity compatible with the adoption of budget airlines policy?
I’m no expert on the airlines business, I’m just a customer! Despite this, I appreciate that the sector is becoming increasingly competitive and can therefore see the attraction of cost cutting. However, to do this at the expense of the brand is a different matter. As costs are cut so is the perceived value to customers
It may be that BA have changed their strategy and no longer aspire to be one of the world’s leading premium airlines, in which case their brand ambition has evolved. Alternatively, it may be that hard figures are more seductive than that more intangible thing we call the brand and if that’s the reason they won’t be the first to heed the siren call
Ever since the concept of brands and branding first became established there have been examples of companies choosing cost cutting over maintaining or increasing the value of their brands, particularly when times are hard. Many such stories do not end well, because when companies lose faith in their brands they also lose touch with what their customers’ hearts and minds value. As a result, they may discover too late that costs are not the only hard figures on their P&L