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May 21, 2008

Why Some Airline Naming Lives On Despite the Surveys

airline-passengers.pngThe news that passenger satisfaction with airlines has taken a dive back to 2001 levels is probably not a surprise. But there were a few elements that really surprised me from a naming point of view, and some that just had me wondering what the airlines are thinking.

To start off with, a University of Michigan business professor puts part of the blame on passengers because:

They buy primarily on price, and very little else . . . The result of that is very low service and a business model of cost-cutting that really leaves no one happy, certainly not the businesses, the shareholders or the flying public.

Now, hang on one minute. It seems to me that there are a lot of industries where price matters. Like, well, most of them. And Southwest, which came out tops, seems to be offering pretty good deals, but this might prove that the professor is right. The cheap prices may be factoring into our opinions of customer satisfaction. We certainly don’t look for airline brand names over ticket price tags when shopping for a ticket.

I was also interested to see that JetBlue, Frontier and Virgin America were not included in the survey. JetBlue is having some serious image control issues right now, but their problems seem small compared to the challenge faced by US Airways and United Airlines.

These two companies are rumored to merge, similar to Northwest and Delta's recent merger. All four of these airlines are right down there at the bottom of the list of customer satisfaction, leading to some real naming difficulties, or so it would seem.
delta and northwest.png
Brandland USA thinks that both names, Northwest and Delta, should survive and simply be distributed across different routes. This seems like a long shot, but does lead me to wonder if two bad brands are better than one?

These brands are really in trouble, and passengers associate terrible service with both of them, why on earth should they both survive a merger? Moreover, our research has shown that usually one brand prevails in a merger. It’s simply easier and usually reflects the power plays within the deal itself.
unitedairlines logo.png
There has also been much written about the possible merger between United and US Airways, and it seems likely that the name will be United. They are the bigger name with larger international recognition.

Still, customers are not satisfied with any of these brands. Tripso simply suggests that our unhappiness really doesn’t matter and that could be the other reason why all of these brands will live on.

What airlines really look at are complaints from the Department of Transportation. This would explain why the names that make even hardened travelers shudder will live on and on.

In the world of airline branding, cheapness and recognition are better than loyalty and love.

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Posted by William Lozito at May 21, 2008 7:57 AM
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» Is Delta Losing Altitude by Protecting the Northwest Brand Name? from Name Wire: The Product Naming Blog
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