Once upon a time, most airlines were national enterprises, flying the flag in a heavily regulated industry. This has begun to change, slowly, as low-cost carriers pressure the inefficient state-run companies to become more responsive to customers.
SAS is one of the best examples of an airline that successfully ditched its old way of thinking and developed a compelling new brand. The environments, both on board and in airport lounges, epitomize Scandinavian modernity. Luggage tags are inscribed with poetry rather than just a logo. The brand has become an identifiable mind-set for the whole organization.
One of the ways in which the airline industry has responded to its difficulties has been to form groupings between carriers, the major ones being Star Alliance, OneWorld, and SkyTeam. But while these partnerships may have some financial payoffs, the brand implications are more awkward. Although the attraction of national carriers persists— British Airways felt a serious backlash when it tried to reposition itself as a more worldly brand—a brand strategy that focuses more on customer experience than on cost-cutting would certainly be an improvement over the present situation.
The media, from giants like News Corporation and TimeWarner to bloggers and YouTube, began in seventeenth-century London coffeehouses. The telegraph, high-speed presses, radio, TV, and the Internet have all brought change, but the business model is the same: selling readers gossip, news, and critiques; and charging businesses to advertise. Journalistic standards are but one way of safeguarding a brand.
Old media brands are being challenged by specialized satellite and cable channels; magazines printed for niche audiences; and websites based on user content, such as Wikipedia and YouTube. Any bright child can set up a blog or podcast and reach much the same audience that Rupert Murdoch can. What are the prospects for big-media brands, hit by journalistic scandal, relegated behind the brands of their stars, their markets cannibalized? A brand should exploit every element to fulfill its goals (audience, point of view, content, revenue).
The name usually draws on a place name (Sydney Morning Herald), a founder’s name (Forbes), a name that conveys corporate power (Columbia Broadcasting System), or the special interest served (The Food Network). The Guardian began its life based in Manchester, England, but dropped the city name from its title in a successful effort to reach audiences farther afield. The New York Times has no such need: its full name has a strong association with quality journalism, and its association with New York, center of finance and media, doesn’t hurt. One future challenge will be what to do about the many other papers named “… Times,” as geographic separation of markets disappears and media become more global.
The context of the logo must also be considered. A logo in the corner of a TV screen must be legible but not distracting. A distinctive outline works better than a bold, simple shape. MTV was the first channel to use hyperactive logo animation in the US, and this has now been widely adopted.