United and Continental are wasting opportunity

Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share

18 August 2010

United and Continental are wasting opportunity

New United Logo

New United Logo

If you have ever read this blog, you know I hate to fly and, more to the point, I really hate the airlines. This is a real problem for me because, as a course of business, I have to do it pretty frequently.

I constantly hold onto the small glimmer of hope that one day the airlines will take the steps necessary to fix their problems, even from a brand perspective.

Needless to say, that already small glimmer faded even more when I saw what United and Continental are doing with. I guess it shouldn’t surprise me as I am used to being disappointed by United. But like someone trapped in a dysfunctional relationship, I am always trying to look for the best in the airline whose best is a shadow of the past.

It’s not that the new identity is so horrific I shield my children’s eyes from its carnage. But it represents a sheer waste of an opportunity to capitalize on this merger in a way that strengthens the brand for flyers. The forceful combination of the United and Continental logos are symptoms of a much greater problem with the airline industry as whole: They simply do not care about their customers.

Want proof?

After visiting the link above, read the “Deal Details.”  It says, “The combined company will provide a platform for increased profitability and sustainable long-term value for shareholders. It is expected to realize $1.0 billion to $1.2 billion in net annual synergies by 2013, including between $200 million and $300 million of net annual cost synergies.”

Where is the customer in this?  Yes, there is some copy that this merger will create the biggest airline with the world’s most “comprehensive” network. Why would that matter to me? It seems this is all really just about the merger – the logo says as much – and stockholder value. It’s just about piling more cattle on the cattle cars and capitalizing on economies of scale.

United and Continental have really missed an opportunity here to take a true leadership role in the airline industry.  The “new” logo, I guess, is supposed to be a reflection of the merged companies with special emphasis on the “global network” vis a vi the Continental globe.

But I ask you, isn’t having a route to get someone where they want to go the definition of an airline?  Instead of defining who the new United/Continental is and how it is can be an extension of the aspirations and beliefs of its target audience (including the desire to be treated like a person rather than a cow), it is simply restating what it has always said, “We can get you to where you want to go.”

Come on United and Continental, you can do better than that.

See more posts in the following related categories: Airlines Branding Continental Airlines United Airlines


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