Is It Time to Review How Language is Being Used Within/ By Airline Brands?

APEX journalist, Jenn Wint, recently wrote an article on the importance of language in how airline build their brands. An interesting piece I’d say, that serves as a timely reminder for airline brands to review their own communications, both towards employees and customers.

One interesting point to share from the article:

Traditionally, airlines have been formal in their customer communications, but airline marketing has evolved… In premium classes, cabin crew may still address passengers as Mr., Mrs, and Ms, but many passengers now prefer a first-name basis.

Indeed, this seems increasingly true across more places in the world. To add to this however, it will be hubristic to assume that all societies accept the “western/informal” mode of communication. For example, a high degree of formality and respect is still expected among people from countries such as Saudi Arabia.

What now?

It will be advisable to tune in every few months to listen and observe how your audience groups behave; then review if and how your airline brand should tweak the way it speaks in order to continue appealing to them.

One thing organisations tend to overlook is that as people’s lifestyle and expectation change, the dynamics of the social network changes. No, I am not referring to Facebook or Twitter. By social network, I mean the connections between individuals in a network, and language is integral to how an airline brand attracts (or repels) talent and customers within particular social networks.

It is also important that airline brands pay attention to inter-cultural communications. While the Internet is creating the trend of a single culture by bringing together communities, paradoxically, it is even more necessary that airline brands pay attention to inter-cultural communication now that we’re interacting across so many cultures. An oversight in this often results in messages lost in translation, as in the case of Korean Air’s #PrimitiveEnergy campaign. Casual misogyny and racism are very much less easily tolerated in today’s world, as exemplified in the case of Justine Sacco.

Take some time to read Jenn’s APEX article (see below or click here). It may be time for your airline to review whether the current language/ communications being used is still relevant today as it was ten years ago.

Loyalty is dead; the end goal is affinity. Language cues go a long way to build affinity and keep brands top of mind. Passengers remember how a flight made them feel,” says Shashank Nigam.

Li Guen

Li Guen

Head of Communications and Marketing at SimpliFlying
Li Guen heads the communications and marketing functions at SimpliFlying where she drives corporate branding efforts and industry research initiatives. Prior to this, Li Guen was at Weber Shandwick working with clients including Rolls-Royce, Changi Airport Group and P&G.In her free time, Li Guen likes trekking mountains in Asia. You can tweet her at @SimpliGuen or email her at guen@simpliflying.com.
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