For seasoned travelers, it’s a known fact that some airlines are simply better than others, while a handful of others are a few clouds above even the better ones. Singapore Airlines is of the latter genre. A feat that they have managed to sustain after all these years, an escalating challenge in today’s increasingly crowded skies dotted with LCC’s (that’s the industry term for Budget Airlines, which stands for Low Cost Carrier). One need look no further than Asia, where economies have been expanding faster than the developed world, and where it seems someone conveniently forgot to inform this region of a global recession that’s been looming for a good 5 years.
Which leads me back to the subject of Singapore Airlines. First, it’s important to note that Singapore Airlines is widely accepted as the world’s most profitable airline, and if awards are any proof, as with her excellent world-class hub, Changi Airport, Singapore Airlines has collected more awards than any other airline in the world.
As a Brand Strategy Practitioner, it’s in my nature to always have my brand-angled-inquisitive-head screwed on firmly, replete with questions on how certain brands are built, sustained, and remain relevant and – where it counts the most – competitive. Because in plain language, regardless what people think of Branding and Brand Strategy, its their ability to connect emotionally with their customers. If Elvis has left the building… these brands are the ones who have known for years that the real game is NOT to compete in the functionality of their product and service, but rather in the emotional and symbolic areas, which create – you guessed it – emotional and symbolic values. I won’t bother you with the details of the theoretic background. Let me just reiterate that “BUILDING AN EMOTIONAL CONNECTION BETWEEN BRANDS AND CONSUMERS” is the key ingredient to building compelling brands. And this is what separates Singapore, Airlines, Apple, Coca Cola, BMW, Samsung, Micheal Jackson, IKEA, Geico Insurance, Toyota, Madonna, Louis Vuitton, Haagen Dasz, Giorgio Armani, Marilyn Monroe, Blue Bird Taxis, ZARA, Johnnie Walker, VW Beetle, LEGO, Hyatt Hotels, Nutella, Amanresorts, Ibiza, and Bali, from the competition in their respective categories. PS: The last two names on the list are NO TYPOS, they are all brands in their own right.
So what is Singapore Airlines’ secret sauce, and how have they managed to remain relevant for the global travel market, perched high at the pinnacle of the pecking order of full-service airlines?
There really is no magic formula for building strong brands. As with everything else in life, applies to us mortals too, you start with STRONG SELF IDENTITY. This must be established first, by answering the following 4 simple questions:
1. Who am I?
2. Who am I for?
3. Why do I matter?
4. Why should you believe me?
This is an internal exercise for any brand-builder (a little help from an able consultant always helps!!), which is then followed by 3 main activities: 1. CONSISTENCY, 2. UNIFORMITY, and 3. PATIENCE. The strongest brands in the world also know one prerequisite: TIME!!