APEX interviews Shashank Nigam about SOAR and secrets to airline branding
SimpliFlying CEO Shashank Nigam launched his first book yesterday at a private event in London. SOAR aims to help its readers shake off old ways of thinking, adopt new attitudes and seize opportunities in brand marketing by detailing how eight airlines overcame a number of challenges to “build endearing internal cultures and consistently delight customers.”
Airlines in today’s highly competitive and increasingly social and digital world take brand and marketing seriously. When creating exceptional customer experiences, they draw inspiration from their customers, their staff, adjacent industries (like resorts and hotels) and even from their competitors. Now airlines have another resource when planning and executing great marketing campaigns: SOAR, the first book from Shashank Nigam, CEO of world-leading airline marketing consultancy SimpliFlying.
Launched at a private event attended by senior aviation executives, journalists and the SimpliFlying team, SOAR details how eight airlines overcame a number of challenges to “build endearing internal cultures and consistently delight customers” through as many as 50 brand touch-points. Airlines, airports and other travel industry professionals are the primary target market for the 200+ page book, which aims to help its readers shake off old ways of thinking, adopt new attitudes and seize opportunities in brand marketing.
“The most overlooked touch points are usually over the phone or on social media. Airlines may not give these as much importance as traditional touch points, but they impact the brand directly.” – Shashank Nigam, SimpliFlying
“Each time there’s an interaction between an airline and passengers, that’s considered a brand touch point,” Nigam tells APEX Media. “The most important touch points are there on the day of travel – from check in to baggage pick up. The most overlooked touch points are usually over the phone or on social media. Airlines may not give these as much importance as traditional touch points, but they impact the brand directly.”
The airlines featured in the book (Singapore Airlines, Southwest, Finnair, AirAsia, Turkish Airlines, Air New Zealand, Kulula, and Vueling) were selected based on their brand resonance in their core markets and geographical diversity. Specific examples of their successful and sometimes unorthodox initiatives fill the pages of SOAR. The book details the story of the iconic Singapore Girl, how Finnair partnered with home-grown designers for chic interiors, lounges and inflight product that passengers are keen to take home and how Turkish Airlines harnesses the star-power of top athletes to gain a foothold in new markets. According to Dr. Keith Mason, Head of Cranfield University’s Centre for Air Transport Management, SOAR is “essential reading for airline executives and those who wish to become airline executives.”
“Internal marketing is just as important, if not more important, than marketing to customers.” – Shashank Nigam, SimpliFlying
And while the book is designed to be helpful and educational to others, the author isn’t shy to admit that the experience of writing SOAR (which took about 18 months from start to finish) taught him quite a bit as well. “My takeaway was that marketing alone doesn’t build an endearing brand,” he says. “A remarkable product and service must exist underneath the marketing efforts. Moreover, internal marketing is just as important, if not more important, than marketing to customers. Employees who take pride in their work ultimately take better care of customers. And that ultimately creates a remarkable brand experience.”