Oman Air’s re-branding effort – worth it?

Oman Air unveiled a new look in the first week of March, 2008. Gone were the red and green colors, as well as the “khanjar”, which have all been part of the livery ever since the airline’s inception, 15 years ago. In came a “contemporary rendition of Frankincense smoke”, with silver, gold and sober blue colors. The main reason cited for the revamp the expansion of Oman Air into long haul travel, which soon will include cities like Beirut, Zanzibar, Darussalam and Mumbasa in June (which still sounds is regional), and Europe in the future.


I think that with this re-branding effort, they’re stuck in the middle – not too contemporary, while tryin to blend in the tradition. A simply case of trying too hard? Ironically, officials went on the record that “khanjar” was “not viewed as a friendly image” in the West. Now, how is the smoke from an incense friendlier? Unless, of course, they smoke up the cabin to smell like Frankincense.Some reasons why switching to Frankenstein Frankincense smoke wasn’t such a great idea:

  1. Even if symbolically, smoke at the back of the plane doesn’t always bode safety.
  2. Switching from one cultural symbol to another still needs education for the ignorant traveler from the west, if that’s what they were trying to avoid
  3. If we evaluate from a Brand Xpectation perspective, they still remain pretty much the same, despite the severe overhaul. The food is still the same, so is the service. They have not revealed any plans to make the new brand come alive across touch-points, other than print and web ads (see below)
  4. From a Brand Xtensibility perspective, they seemed confused again – trying to keep things consistent, yet having an overhaul.

It would have been nice if they had kept their red and green colors, which represent the national flag, and may be redesigned the khanjar to look more appealing. I guess they can look into these suggestions when they start flying US and Aussie routes.

Here’re some more places you can read about Oman Air’s re-branding effort.

Let us know what you think too, in the comments section.

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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