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Singapore Airlines - An Excellent Asian Brand
Think about one of the strongest brands from Asia, and chances are that Singapore Airlines and its long-serving, almost iconic Singapore Girl easily come to mind. Singapore Airlines has consistently been one of the most profitable airlines globally, and has always had the reputation of a trendsetter and industry challenger. There are several good reasons for this. Most relates directly to the strong brand management driven primarily by the Singapore Airlines boardroom and top-management, and the healthy brand equity as the result of a dedicated, professional brand strategy throughout a diversified, global organisation. The Singapore Airlines brand has been instrumental for the airline from the early start. It serves as one of the leading brand cases from Asia for other established brands as well as any aspiring brands. The Singapore Airlines brand is unique in the sense that the boardroom takes dedicated leadership of the brand strategy unlike many other Asian companies. Background Singapore Airlines (SIA) began in 1947 as Malayan (later Malaysian) Airlines in a joint venture between the Malaysian and Singapore governments, serving primarily the South East Asian region. In 1965, Singapore separated from Malaysia, and later the two governments agreed to set up separate airlines. Singapore Airlines was born in 1972. Singapore Airlines was in a different position than most other airlines at the time. There were no domestic routes to serve it was forced to immediately start competing with international airlines for routes, getting access to airports, securing flight slots and landing rights, and attracting a new customer base. Unlike most state-owned entities, Singapore Airlines was subject to heavy competition from the onset and this tough start created a driving spirit to compete and also a dedication to branding, especially in the boardroom. These factors have prevailed within the organization since then, and served the airline very well as the following will illustrate. Building the Brand Singapore Airlines decided on a fully branded product/service differentiation strategy from the very beginning. Innovation, best technology, genuine quality and excellent customer service were to become the major drivers of the brand. Throughout the course of their 32-year history, Singapore Airlines has remained true to their brand attributes. They have pioneered many in-flight experiential and entertainment innovations, and strived to be best-in-class. SIA was the first to introduce hot meals, free alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, hot towels with a unique and patented scent, personal entertainment systems, and video-on-demand in all cabins. The company keeps driving innovation as an important part of the brand, and the cabin ambience and combined experience are key factors of their success. On the technology side, Singapore Airlines still maintains the youngest fleet of aircraft amongst all major air carriers, and keeps to the stringent policy of replacing older aircrafts for newer, better models. They have always been first in line to take delivery of new aircraft types like Boeing 747 jumbo jets, Boeing 777, and they will become the first airline to fly the Airbus Super jumbo A-380 in 2006. Even the aircrafts are sub-branded like 747-Megatop and 777-Jubilee to further distinguish SIA and its brand from competitors. Singapore Airlines also flew Concorde between Singapore and London in the late 70'ties in collaboration with British Airways (BA). The aircraft was
An example of this was the new nonstop services to Los Angeles and New York launched in 2004. The Singapore Girl strategy turned out to be a very powerful idea and has become a successful brand icon with an almost mythical status and aura around her. which many other brands often fall into in their efforts to communicate all at once. it is no longer considered "innovative". the airline continues to invest heavily in R&D. The Singapore Girl The personalization of the Singapore Airlines brand is the mixed male and female cabin crew. Singapore Airlines also runs one of the most comprehensive and rigorous training programs for cabin and flight crew in the industry to make sure the SIA brand experience is fully and consistently delivered. This has allowed Singapore Airlines to be highly selective in the recruiting process for talent which has added further to the strength of the brand icon and the myth around it. Singapore Airlines uses these events for marketing purposes. The Singapore Girl encapsulates Asian values and hospitality. A dangerous trap.in-flight hospitality and warmth featured by the Singapore Girl . The strategy behind the technology program is clear: It enhances cost efficiency to use the latest aircrafts and at the same time. where especially the flight stewardesses commonly referred to as Singapore Girls have become very well-known.rather than trying to communicate the entire brand benefits through its messages. Singapore Airlines recognizes that each innovation has a relatively short life span. Interestingly. elegant and serene. When Singapore Airlines recently launched their comfortable Space Bed seats in business class. . The icon has become so strong that Madame Tussaud's Museum in London started to display the Singapore Girl in 1994 as the first commercial figure ever. they ran a 60second commercial of a highly emotional and mythical character to underline the aspiration of the brand and the Singapore Girl. warm. Once other airlines adopt it.A Great Way to Fly" has been consistently conveyed in exclusive print media and also in selected TV-commercials of very high production value to underline the quality aspirations of brand. A very designated and visual part of the entire brand experience. and BA's on the other. and could be described as caring. innovation and technology as an integrated part of the business strategy to further differentiate itself. The primary message "Singapore Airlines . and to set their airline brand apart from competition. Therefore. which attracted huge publicity in global media and kept the innovation promise of the brand alive. Communicating the message Singapore Airlines has been as consistent in its communication vehicles as in its brand strategy. This has led to a focused and consistent message for SIA during the last 32 years. All communication messages are featured through the iconic Singapore Girl in different themes and settings.painted with SIA's colours and logos on one side. The social status of the Singapore Girl has also reached near-celebrity in Asia. and it carried crew from both airlines. SIA engaged French haute-couture designer Pierre Balmain at the inauguration of the airline in 1972. Singapore Airlines has chosen to focus on one aspect of the experiential brand strategy . This in itself is a great achievement for any brand. gentle. He designed a special version of the Malay sarong kebaya as the uniform which later became one of the most recognized signatures of the airline. It is a brilliant personification of SIA's commitment to service and quality excellence. The special aircrafts for these long-range routes (Airbus A340-500) are sub-branded Leadership to further distinguish the brand promise.
the premium US airlines are diluting their brand in search of short-term profitability. Developing cost advantages Singapore Airlines' brand strategy is. commitment. and strong faith in the brand's ability to pull through bad times. essentially because they provided these services. This type of commitment takes dedication from the board. reactionary decisions which dilute the brand. which causes them to reduce price to retain these customers. none has been able to match Singapore Airlines in consistency. and true permeation of the brand in every facet. Each brand benefit requires significant investment. and limit interest costs. Historically.The Singapore Girl has contributed immensely to the success of Singapore Airlines' brand strategy and its entire positioning around customer and service excellence. This is creating a circular effect where the premium airlines are losing costsensitive customers to low-cost airlines. For example. careful management and detailed implementation programs to live up to the brand promise. a relatively high-cost strategy. the financial and cash position has allowed SIA to weather the short-term dips in the industry better than the competition. SIA has followed a very simple management formula to achieve outstanding results: . First. the strong cash position allows Singapore Airlines to internally fund purchases of new equipment and airplanes. business travellers were willing to pay a premium for full-service airlines. SIA is not locked into long-term leases. This is very significant since 15-20% of an airlines' total costs derive from fuel. even on restricted flights. pressure on US airlines stemming from low-cost carrier competition has caused a number of the fullservice airlines to begin charging for on-board services which used to be free. By abandoning their customer service strategy. more efficient equipment which minimizes maintenance costs and avoid aircraft downtime. Finally. in theory. This cost pressure causes them to start reducing the premium services which made them distinct from the low-cost airlines in the first place. CEO and senior management team. Maintaining the youngest generation of aircrafts provides SIA with some of the lowest fuel costs in the industry. The brand delivers results Singapore Airlines has maintained its position as one of the best-known and best-performing brands in Asia. A second benefit of SIA's infrastructure is the age of their fleet. Using the brand to drive revenues While other airlines have also pursued high service/quality brand strategies. This is a particularly difficult position to maintain in a highly cyclical industry where the competition seems to react on a daily basis to changes in performance. Singapore Airlines has been able to deliver some of the best results in the industry by avoiding this type of reactionary behaviour. On top of this. The management team and shareholders must maintain a longer term outlook to avoid making short-term. Singapore Airlines has carefully built a financial and fixed cost infrastructure which allows them to continue investing to support the brand while challenging the competition on costs. and remains one of the few consistent performers in an industry where established brands are struggling to stay alive. This in turn creates more cost pressure. SIA carefully hedges up to 50% of their fuel contracts two years in advance to avoid cyclical and often large volatility in fuel prices. SIA has been able to maintain their brand advantage by not wavering from their brand strategy. and can easily accommodate newer.
launching their own carrier for local and short-haul routes. The strong brand equity of Singapore Airlines is one of the most valuable assets for the company and its cash-rich balance sheet. SIA has become a hugely rewarded innovator and industry leader: A great way to fly. In other words. innovation and service. The challenge is to stay true to the brand and keep delivering on the fairly high-cost promise of quality. hedging against fuel price increases. This requires heavy. there are always segments willing to pay for quality brands. keep innovating and capture the overall value of the brand in the minds of the customers. Be consistent. Therefore. In most industries. Singapore Airlines is among the top companies globally that is truly able to control the brand through every interaction and experience. Profits: Run the business with a long-term outlook. Singapore Airlines has already jumped ahead. the question is not whether there are customers in the market. and they should serve as great inspiration for other Asian boardrooms trying to build and manage their own brands. customers' perception of the price/value equation. to stay at the forefront of competition.also in the closely regulated Asian airspace. The low-cost carriers have significantly influenced consumer behaviour for cheap price bargains among leisure travellers and increasingly among business travellers. and agile management of the entire company etc. Tiger Airways. their future buying behaviour (partly to be influenced by the low-cost carriers) and loyalty among other factors are crucial for the future. • • • Download brochure Videos More articles . Costs: Tight control of costs though ownership of the most cost-efficient aircrafts. Singapore Airlines is a leading business case from Asia demonstrating the importance of strategic branding. on-going investments and healthy cash-flows which can only be achieved though a continuous price-premium strategy and satisfactory passenger load factors. Singapore Airlines strongly embedded positioning and commitment to the brand has positioned it well to compete in the new landscape. Air travel has become a commodity and most major routes are saturated with fierce competition. but rather the ability for Singapore Airlines to constantly nurture the brand promise. The aim is to avoid dilution of the core premium brand. Stay true to the brand. Singapore Airlines. What is next for Singapore Airlines? The last three years has seen a dramatic shift in the airline industry. There have been major shakeouts and loose consolidation amongst premium. full-service players and a wide expansion in the low-cost carrier market .Revenues: Command a price premium through consistent brand benefits and avoid reactionary pricing behaviour in order to condition the customer not to wait for price matching.
Use the same color scheme. Customers won’t return to you–or refer you to someone else–if you don’t deliver on your brand promise. If you can’t do this. meaningful and concise statement that captures the essence of your brand. Write a memorable. your attempts at establishing a brand will fail. Create a “voice” for your company that reflects your brand. Is it ritzy? Be more formal. logo placement. 3. This voice should be applied to all written communication and incorporated in the visual imagery of all materials. Place it everywhere. everything. Write down your brand messaging. Identify customer touchpoints. I placed this point last only because it involves all of the above and is the most important tip I can give you. what you or your salespeople wear on sales calls.• • • • • Blog Asian Brand Strategy Buy the book Contact the author Speaker bookings and inquiries About the author: Martin Roll . Develop a tagline. Identify customer touchpoints. just consistent. What are the key messages you want to communicate about your brand? Every employee should be aware of your brand attributes. You get the gist. 5 Steps to Brand Building Touchpoints Are Key to Building a Strong Brand 1. . Integrate your brand. online and off. Determine the most influential touchpoints. Design templates and create brand standards for your marketing materials.Business & brand strategist First Steps in Branding • • • • • • • • Get a great logo. Be true to your brand. Be consistent. Is your brand friendly? Be conversational. look and feel throughout. You don’t need to be fancy. your e-mail signature. Branding extends to every aspect of your business– how you answer your phones. 2.
Align the organization to consistently deliver the optimal experience. making it easy to see at a glance. from “Air-India” to “Air India”. is done in an easy to read font. The coverage of its new avatar . DMA branding has done projects for many products & companies like Dabur. Tagline “Fly Well” adopted. DMA Branding a division of Aliagroup was given the task of re-branding the airline. Designing the seats (by DMA). communicates your business clearly. easy to read and memorable. New uniform (new look to traditional sari) designed by Ritu Beri. The First Key Element of Branding. balanced image with no little extras that clutter its look. Design the optimal experience. The process of re-branding took place in 2005. 4. 2.4.branding & positioning of Air India. name i. Ayush etc. I thought to apply some marketing funda’s. That’s how I came up with an idea to find something on re. Branding Basics – Create a Great Logo and Tag Line • • a logo design that’s attractive.e. is distinctive and bold in design. and The Second Key Element of Branding. The steps in the way to re-branding of Air India1. 5. 7 Logo Design Tips Keep in mind that a powerful logo design: • • • • • • • has a strong. has graphic imagery that looks appropriate for your business. 5. The re-branding & positioning of Air India !!! As a marketing student. works well with your company name. A graphic swan with Ashoka Chakra design. Dropping of hyphen from its . The positioning for Air India has been focused as a quality & premium traffic airline. Create a Distinctive Tag Line. a great tag line. 3. Create a Great Logo.
one that says who you are and what you need you meet. 15. 8. 5. Advertising & Public relations have communicated its new image. Craft the core message: Keeping your audience in mind. This is the second & only chance to have The (re)Branding Process 8 Steps to Creating a Consistent Brand Image 1. you have not finished this step. and everything else. 3. Assess your core audience: Knowing and understanding your audience should be a natural conclusion of your unique value. For example. Air Canada Air New Zealand ANA Asiana Airlines Austrian BMI LOT Polish Airlines Lufthansa SAS Scandinavian Airlines Singapore Airlines South African Airways Spanair Swiss TAP Portugal Thai United Airlines US Airways. Use the right voice: A voice is the tone you use in speaking to different people. 4. website. 10. create (or recreate) a core message. and say it to everyone you talk to about your organization. If you don’t know it off the top of your head. 3. Air India is also planning to enter the prestigious Star Alliance (Air India may join Star Alliance after Dec. Make sure you are using the right voice to reach each of them. 6. . 9. Memorize it. Find your unique value: this is what your brand really is at its most basic level.has got excellent media hype. Considering the people your brand is built on is essential before creating your logo. 17. it’s the turn of word-of-mouth publicity. This can be a challenging process but also extremely rewarding and fun.. ours is branding you for the social web… these six words are meant to describe who we are and what need we meet. Identifying the one thing that separates you from your market and making that your primary identity is one of the most important things any organization can do. 12. Now. 2007). 7. 16. Star alliance is an alliance of int’l airlines airline which currently has17 members1. 13. you have not finished this step.. 14. not the way you do!). If you can’t describe your target audience in one sentence. Like most organizations. because your uniqueness lies in meeting needs nobody else can meet (at least. message. 4. you probably have a few different types of “customers”. 2. 2. 11.
but you will never know if you do not set up measurement tools. with some seasons more devoted to it than others. This is a constant effort. 6. and clutter can confuse your audience. Measure the impact: Theoretically. So. Much of this can be done through a new visual look. Make sure that you are set up to measure the effectiveness of your strategy. it’s not wise to put all your eggs in one basket. . doing events. so get creative. Make a plan: Take what survived the cutting room. Remember. make sure that you implement it with gusto. and create a strategy to create the right impression on your audience. rebranding is a normal part of every organization’s life-cycle. Implement it: Steps 1 through 6 are the thinking parts. Eliminate the unnecessary: Go through the “pruning” process of trimming unnecessary ventures and messages to establish which ones should receive the most resources. and that it doesn’t look like a sideshow. Organizations that succeed long term are always fine tuning their voice. and finding better ways to build community both within and without the organization. Usually. but often it demands a new way of speaking.5. you want to be clear what the new brand image is. It is usually one simple idea that makes the connection with people. Think practically: “What will communicate our message and make people remember it?” 7. but with a rebranding effort. 8. adjusting their visual identity. It is always creative ideas that stick with people. Step 7 and 8 are the doing parts. and even sometimes how you dress! The important thing is that it all supports your core identity… hype dies like a sugar high. Steps 1-7 should make a big impact if done well.