Almost 13 years ago, Virgin Blue was launched with two aircraft operating on a single route. Over decade on and with 91 aircrafts in its fleet, Virgin Blue was losing money and market share and the future was unsustainable. A new business strategy announced in 2010 to ‘re-define the Virgin Airlines brand in Australia’ in direct challenge to Qantas.
Up to this time, the airline had been operating under both national and international brands: Virgin Blue, V Australia, Polynesian Blue and Pacific Blue. The Virgin Australia brand aiming to unify all operations. It was then able to apply its own strategic brand research to implement the comprehensive and holistic brand program. If Virgin Australia wanted to compete in the competitive Australian market as a contemporary business and leisure carrier, they needed to shift away from their low-cost carrier image and undergo a complete brand repositioning.
A five-senses approach such as, sight, aural, touch, taste and smell, was employed to its brand revitalisation strategy in order to enhance the airline’s appeal to consumers. All brand iterations were redesigned such as a new name and brand identity, aircraft exteriors and interiors including seat design plus leather and fabrics, carpets and curtain, onboard collateral and uniforms, scarves, ties and badges, to ensure that the lounge designs were consistent with the rest of the brand. Virgin stands for pure and white, adding the identity’s red, plus silver for sophistication and purple, gives the brand an edgy look.
The importance of the delivery of the brand was also considered for crew announcements, choice of music and onboard lighting during boarding and take off. Sophisticated in-flight menus were developed and designed. Materials and surfaces, from glassware to seating have all been selected to be consistent with the brand’s new look and feel.
Highlighting how quickly the brand revitalisation took effect on the profitability of Virgin Australia, the following information summarises the six-month financial results to 31 December 2011:
- Growth in corporate and government revenues was 81%
- Virgin Australia reported a statutory net profit after tax of $51.8 million, 118% from previous period
- Following the relaunch of the Velocity Frequent Flyer program, on average 1700 new members signing up daily, with over 3 million members
Virgin Australia was recognised at the prestigious Skytrax World Airline Awards, being voted best airline and best airline staff service in Asia Pacific for 2012, and climbing up the global rankings from 32nd in 2011 to 12th in 2012, a great example of revitalising the brand holistically.