Launching a new brand in the world’s toughest category
when people had no reason to believe in a new airline.
When United Express, a regional airline operating out of Washington Dulles International Airport, decided to end their relationship with United and become an independent, low-fare carrier, GKV was retained to launch the new brand.
This environment, particularly in the Washington, D.C. area, was no place to start a new airline. With higher fares, more delayed flights, more lost luggage, and less customer service, consumer confidence and brand loyalty within the airline industry were at an all-time low. People had no reason to believe in a new airline.
Challenger Brand Solution
The positioning we created for the new airline was to be the “unairline-like airline.” The brand promise was to “Challenge the status quo to make travel faster, easier and more interesting.” We named the airline “Independence Air” and developed all of the brand components, including the logo, the external marketing, the graphic treatment on the plane’s exterior, and even the seat colors.
That was the easy part of the branding. The biggest challenge was to engage, energize and mobilize the employees. According to Gallup, an airline’s customer service impacts brand loyalty four times more than its advertising.
To create and instill an internal brand culture at Independence Air, we developed and managed a Brand Inside proprietary process to engage employees to understand and live the brand every day. Through intense training and the development of a truly branded workplace environment, Independence Air employees were soon delivering a positive, energetic, on-brand experience unlike anything else in the industry.
Within one year of its launch, Independence Air was named the Number One Airline for Customer Service by Market Metrix, a recognized independent research firm, as well as Travel and Leisure magazine. Independence Air even beat service powerhouses Southwest and JetBlue.