IT TOOK 26 focus groups, over 50 shamrocks and “less than €2 million” for Aer Lingus to concoct its new image.
As part of a pitch to become a “value carrier” focused on connecting North America with Europe via Dublin, the IAG-owned outfit today unveiled a refreshed logo and livery at a glitzy showcase in a not-so-glamorous hanger at Dublin Airport.
Top brass from the aviation and travel worlds assembled to witness the moment newly appointed CEO Sean Doyle, chief operating officer Mike Rutter and marketing director Dara McMahon pulled back the curtain on a new-look Aer Lingus Airbus A330.
Of course, social media-savvy aviation enthusiasts caught a glimpse of the white, green and teal paint job earlier this week when leaked images were circulated on the web.
Doyle, who replaced Stephen Kavanagh this month, seemed to take the spoiler in his stride.
“We live in a world of social media and these things happen. I think that’s the world we live in today,” he said.
Mike Rutter was equally unfazed: “We’re actually reasonably pleased to get to this stage without substantive leaks … I don’t think it’s been heavy compared to many others that I’ve seen.”
Leaks aside, the event marked a major milestone for the once State-owned airline, which hasn’t completed a branding exercise of this scale for more than two decades.
Marketing boss Dara McMahon explained the surprisingly rigorous process that went into toning down the green planes and introducing a more modern logo and font, complete with a Celtic-inspired letter G.
“In three phases of research we held qualitative sessions with 26 focus groups in Ireland, Boston, Berlin, New York, Paris and London,” she said.
“We used that research to understand our different equities in different geographies, and gauge permission to change from our target segments, old and young.”
Throughout the process – which involved New York-based consultancy Lippincott – Aer Lingus decided to retain elements of green in its now mostly white livery due to its association with Ireland.
“Colours in our livery are reassuredly still shades of green. A darker shade of green represents strength, while later shades represent modernity and warmth – Aer Lingus warmth,” McMahon proclaimed.
The airline plans to repaint its entire fleet by 2021 and will rebrand more than 400 touchpoints like check-in desks, airport signage and in-flight menus.
Despite the scale of the undertaking, Mike Rutter doesn’t anticipate it will have much effect on day-to-day business.
“One of the beauties of having been a value carrier for the last few years is that most of our assets are digital so (we have) the ability to be able to change it without the same issues that used to exist in the past,” he said.
“By the end of next week, pretty much across Dublin (Airport) it will be completed. The difference is that digital assets allow us to do that.”
Sean Doyle wouldn’t confirm exactly how much the entire undertaking will cost the airline but said the total will be “less than €2 million”.
When asked whether he thought customers would really care about the rebrand, Doyle claimed: “I think there’s a package of things that passengers like.
“I do think that people have an emotional engagement with Aer Lingus as a brand and that’s very valuable. We’re very conscious of how much people feel about our brand and it’s very strong and I think we respect that in the way that we present it.”