Landor Managing Director Allen Adamson reveals that creating a powerful airline brand is the ultimate test


Allen Adamson, Landor

Allen Adamson, Landor

“Successfully branding an airline is the ultimate branding test,” concluded Allen Adamson last Friday in his office during an interview with this blog. Allen is the Managing Director at the New York office of Landor Assosiates, one of the most respected branding firms and one that is heavily involved in airline branding globally. Landor has led brand strategy at heavyweights of the industry like Singapore Airlines, Jet Airways, Austrian Airlines, Delta Airlines and Japan Airlines. Allen is also the author of the recently published book, BrandDigital, which details how companies should leverage the latest in Web 2.0 to build their brands.

“The digital airline brand is all about execution”

“The execution has to be spectacular – online and offline,” Allen explained, when asked what is the key to building successful airline brand in today’s hyper-connected world. Allen believes that the internet acts as a magnifying glass for all business operations and achieving transparency is essential. “If you don’t reveal it, someone else will”, he added. He aptly mentioned as an example of a site that has taken advantage of this phenomenon, by revealing the best seats in the plane – something airlines could have done themselves. Allen believes that the internet should be tapped to understand customers better and address their needs in an interactive way – JetBlue being a good example of an airline that does this well.

The importance of internal branding

The other part of brand execution that matters is internal branding – something SouthWest is well known for. In in his experience in working with airlines, Allen has learnt that empowering the employees directly interacting with the customers to make decisions on their own cultivates happy customers too. Training them well and keeping them happy to ensure that they live the brand, and communicate the brand to the customers in every interaction is essential. In this regards, airlines can learn from brands like Disney and Nordstrom, both of which have successfully managed to filter down a consistent brand experience to every touchpoint.

Below, you can watch the full interview with Allen, who was gracious enough to grant us time from his busy calendar for this. Special thanks to Leonie Derry from Landor, who tirelessly worked to ensure that this interview took place.

So, what do you think? Is execution the key to an airline brand’s success, as Allen believes? Is survival more important than the brand, or do they go hand in hand? Let’s hear it in the comments section…

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Shashank Nigam

Shashank Nigam

Shashank Nigam is the CEO of SimpliFlying and a globally sought-after consultant, speaker and thought-leader on airline branding and customer engagement strategy. He is also the youngest winner of the Global Brand Leadership Award and has addressed senior aviation executives globally, from Chile to Canada and from Sydney to San Francisco.Shashank's perspectives have found their way into major media outlets, including CNN Travel, CNBC, MSNBC, Bloomberg UTV, Mashable and in leading publications like Airline Business, ATW, Aviation Week, and others.Shashank studied Information Systems Management and Business Management at Singapore Management University and Carnegie Mellon University. Hailing from India, he splits his time between Singapore and Vancouver, among other cities.
Shashank Nigam
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