Missed opportunities? Airlines as country brand ambassadors

We all know a little or too much about football, and every time we see a team on TV we can more and less identify the country where the team is from. We become familiar with embassies by their bold and notorious buildings usually with strong visuals like a flag and other signage. They follow through the principles and core values for that country. What about airlines? They fly around the world; they are probably one of the strongest media out there for a country to represent itself.

If there is a business market in which competing companies have traditionally been linked to their country of origin in an intrinsic, almost organic sense, that would be the airline sector.” Via Nation-branding.info The customer experience is a thorough journey full of encounters that carry so many opportunities for a country to represent itself. One thing we have noticed is the lack of attention given to their uniforms. While we appreciate that a flight crew’s uniform needs to be functional, as a visual representation of a brand, of a nation, we can’t help but feel that a lot look so dull, still and very corporate to the point where there are no clues as to country of origin.

Are airlines still missing out on a major branding opportunity to become more creative and unique within the Airline world; to the extent of possibly representing themselves in a unique and honorable way?

The Middle East and Asia look like they have cottoned onto this. Emirates, Gulf or Etihad Airways all have a strong visual uniform that reflects the Middle Eastern Arabic culture and heritage through incorporation of the veil. Singapore Airlines have consistently been one of the most profitable airlines globally. French designer Pierre Balmain designed a special version of the Malay sarong kebaya as the uniform so called the “The Singapore Girl” which later became one of the most recognized signatures of the airline so much that Madame Tussaud’s Museum in London started to display the Singapore Girl in 1994 as the first commercial figure ever. You can read more about it here.

So why do Western airlines undervalue the important role they could have in reflecting their own country brand? What if every single airline used a piece of traditional cloth or symbol or element in their uniforms that reflected a symbol of the country? This would generate a strong diversity and character for each airline brand and [over time] instant recognition by the public. We have put some thought, and selected a few pieces that can only make us think how much more original airlines would be if they would take some inspiration from their past costume we have all become familiar with.

By Grace Yacoub