DON”T CHANGE WHAT YOU DO, CHANGE YOUR BRAND POSITION

Ever considered whether moving your brand’s position is good idea?
Ever thought about whether you could thrive in a cheaper part of the market?
Ever got frustrated that you don’t make much progress against your competitors?

I’ve often looked at these brand positioning questions and recently experienced the repositioning of Aer Lingus, the Irish national airline.

I used to despise Aer Lingus. When I was travelling to Dublin every week for work (about 7 years ago) I avoided them like the plague, they were awful. Badly run, never on time and unpleasant. They were a poor imitation of British Airways or bmi. Worse of all they were bad AND expensive.

But in the last few months I’ve flown Aer Lingus four times and they have changed significantly. It seems they have upped their game but the main thing they have done is reposition their brand and that has done wonders for their perceived value.

They have kept the core of their national carrier approach – assigned seats, quite generous baggage allowances, trained and uniformed staff, sober style, normal planes with normal seats. But they have changed their pricing model to be similar to Easyjet – i.e. book early get cheap seats. For all the flights I have taken with them I have been booking up to 8 weeks in advance (so not incredibly early) and got flights for under £50.

Aer Lingus are now competing in my mind with Easyjet and Ryanair for my low cost flights. They aren’t competing with British Airways anymore from where I look at the market. They bring a certain national carrier quality to this low cost competition and this combination has won out for my last 4 flights. They didn’t win when they were competing against British Airways, they do when they compete against Easyjet.

Sometimes you don’t have to change what you do, you just have to move your brand or business model to compete in a different part of the market where you bring value.

Now, as a quick look at their results shows, the challenge for Aer Lingus will be to right size their cost base to the reduction in revenue per seat that low-cost has caused. They need to do this whilst maintaining a half decent customer experience and is currently differentiating them from their low cost competitors. Not an easy task but by focusing on the things that really matter, keeping some of the national carrier experience, and innovating on key dimensions they have a chance.

A good example is their investment in the hub at Gatwick or the very impressive self check baggage approach they have in Dublin. This self check baggage system means you can sticker and drop your bags automatically. Rather than detract from the experience this is a great innovation and almost guarantees no queuing.

We’ll see where the airline story goes. The “pack ’em in like cattle model” will I think become increasingly niche, especially as flying becomes more expensive. I, for one, will be looking for great value.

Thanks for reading, as ever, please comment if you have ideas or thoughts.

Justin

Email me: justin@basini.com
My website: http://www.basini.com/
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THE NEW LANDSCAPE OF BRANDS

A quick post to share a presentation that I put together for the UK Marketing team for Carlsberg. An old friend of mine (Ian Hannaford @ihannaford) is now a Marketing Manager at Carlsberg and he kindly extended an invitation to talk through some thoughts on brands and marketing with the team.

It was great to meet the team and I really enjoyed the session. Some really interesting ideas surfaced which provoked lots of discussion. I learnt alot about Carlsberg including the fact that it is run as a trust contributing to Danish projects and the top board is scientists and artists. How differentiated is that?

I was impressed that the team was open to hearing ideas and thoughts from other marketers and categories – I wish all teams were as open. Thanks also go to the Director of Brands Paul Davies for allowing me a slot at his meeting.

Do you want me come to your team meeting and provoke some thinking and discussion? Email me – I might just take you up on the offer!

As ever – if you have any thoughts, disagreements, energy and passion to share about brands and marketing then please comment below or drop me an email.

Update on Battle of the Big Thinking (for those that have been following my frustrations on Twitter) – I finally have a stable draft of the presentation. If you are attending see you there and if you aren’t you will be able to take part because I’m going to extend an invitation for you to join the debate!

Hope you are having a great day!

Justin

Email me: justin@basini.com
My website: http://www.basini.com/
Read my blog: http://www.blog.basini.com/
Follow me: www.twitter.com/justinbasini

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THE TRUE VALUE OF BRANDS IN OUR CHANGING WORLD


At last I’ve managed to get enough time to share the presentation that myself and Tom Farrand created for the Financial Services Forum in October 2009.

For those of you that followed the presentation on my Twitter feed and asked for the presentation here are the charts and an audio commentary from me.

In reality the presentation took about 45 mins so I’ve had to rush to crunch it down to 17 mins. You can just click through the slides if you don’t want to listen to me!

And for those that don’t even want to view the presentation or listen to the audio here are the key conclusions:

1. There is a brand bubble being created between valuation and consumer value
2. Consumers are increasingly getting frustrated with brands and business
3. There are disruptive changes which are causing this:
4. Consumption based economic growth is now compromising our well being
5. Consumption based economic growth is unsustainable
6. Connectivity and access to information can help facilitate change
7. Social and power structures are changing

The opportunity for brands and their businesses is:

1. Engage in the debate
2. Adopt a point of view and foster conversation
3. Be points of consistency in a changing world
4. Become the ideas around which businesses can adopt a more balanced approach to delivering not just for shareholders but for the common good
5. These social imperatives are a powerful way to deliver a brand’s commercial imperative – and this will constitute brand leadership going forward.

There are lots of big themes and trends here – get involved – please comment on this blog.

What do you think the future of brands is? Comment and share your ideas.

Justin (and Tom Farrand)

P.S. Apologies for the silence from my blog over the past couple of weeks – I’ve been working on various ideas which took my focus away from the blog.

Email me: justin@basini.com
My website: http://www.basini.com/
Read my blog: http://www.blog.basini.com/
Follow me: www.twitter.com/justinbasini

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