The United-Continental merger has all sorts of ramifications for the airline industry, including those of us who are members of the Star Alliance loyalty program.
However, judging by the announcement today of its corporate identity – which is only a part of brand, not the brand itself – the change in brand doesn’t sound all that groundbreaking to me. It sounds like airlines will continue to have the same problem of lacking customer preference that goes beyond cost, loyalty programs and availability.
The “new” airline will be called simply, United, but the mish-mash is emerging with the logo becoming the globe Continental has used for years. A logo is the visual representation of the brand, but this one shows a lack of understanding of what is important to target audiences, how the merged airline can be different than the competition and, most of all, reflect the customer, not the company.
United and Continental have taken the tactic that many airlines have always taken and it’s a mistake: Looking at things from the inside out, not the outside in. The mish-mash logo represents what is important to those who negotiated the merger because it only represents the merger, not anything emotional or representative to the customer.
You especially know that’s the case by reading the new brand themeline: “Let’s fly together.” As brand strategists who have taken a hard look at the airline industry, we know that brand doesn’t mean anything and what meaning it has is over-used in the industry.
Again, however, the themeline won’t make a difference because it’s only about the merger. Like customers care. It’s not about attracting new customers who could be excited about the merger if the brand said how it related to them.