Still some people are afraid to fly in Malaysia Airlines due to the mystery of its airline MH370 being unresolved & the shot down of the flight, MH17. MH370 had 239 passengers on-board when it got disappeared, on 8 March 2014 while flying from Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Malaysia, to Beijing Capital International Airport in China. It is suspected to be a suicide by the pilot.But still no one knows what exactly happened to MH370, which was an absolute tragedy to the whole world.
In the first 10 days after the MH370 tragedy, an average of 100,000 cancellations a day were reported. Another Malaysia Airline flight, MH17 was shot down on 17th July 2014, while flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, putting Malaysia Airlines into deep trouble. Dean Dacko, CMO of Malaysia Airlines (MAS) revealed that those two back to back tragedies in the same year, had a huge impact on their brand name & even the sales dropped drastically. Therefore in order to come out from this nightmare, redevelopment of the entire organisation was desperately required & the re-branding of Malaysia Airlines to attract the customers back was a major concern & a challenge.
What is Branding ?
The American Marketing Association defines a brand as ‘a name, term, sign, symbol, or design, or a combination of them, intended to identify the goods or services of one seller or group of sellers & to differentiate them from those of competitors’. (Keller, Kottler 2012, Chapter 9 – Creating Brand Equity, Marketing Management, p 241)
Brands identify the source or maker of a product & allow consumers (either individuals or organisations) to assign responsibility for its performance to a particular manufacturer or distributor. Consumers may evaluate the identical product differently depending on how it is branded.
A brand also offers the firm legal protection for unique features or aspects of the product. A credible brand signals a certain level of quality so that satisfied buyers can easily choose the product again. Brand Loyalty provides predictability & security of demand for the firm & it creates barriers to entry that make it difficult for other firms to enter the market.
What is Brand Equity ?
Brand Equity can be defined as ‘the added value endowed on products & services’. It may be reflected in the way consumers think , feel & act with respect to the brand, as well as in the prices, market share & the profitability the brand commands. (Keller, Kottler 2012, Chapter 9 – Creating Brand Equity, Marketing Management, p 243)
Selecting a Brand Element
Brand Elements are devices, which can be trademarked, that identity & differentiate the brand. Most strong brands employ multiple brand elements. A brand element should be memorable, meaningful, likable, transferable, adaptable, & protectable.
Are Brand Associations Useful ?
Brand equity can be built by linking the brand to other information in memory that conveys meaning to consumers. Other information linked with the brand are called Brand Associations.
A branding strategy reflects the number & nature of both common & distinctive brand elements. Deciding how to brand new products is especially critical. Deciding a branding strategy consists of 3 main choices.
- It can develop new brand elements for the new product
- It can apply some of its existing brand elements
- It can use a combination of new & existing brand elements
How can the Marketing Theories in Branding applied to Malaysia Airlines ?
Recreate its Logo & Visual Aspects of the Aircraft
First of all, the new management of Malaysia Airlines (MAS) allocated sufficient funds for their re-branding process. MAS recently appointed M & C Saatchi Malaysia, as its master creative agency, and handed its brand identity task to recreate its logo and the visual aspects of the aircraft livery to a Singapore-based shop called Prophet. The agency, which beat 18 other branding agencies, including several big network names, will be helping MAS develop its brand strategy and visual components of the new logo.
A Brand with Security & Safety
Most importantly, Malaysia Airlines wants to become a brand with safety & security. In order to achieve that they have increased the security measures & checks of the passengers before boarding at airports. They have ensured the quality & safety of their aircrafts, without even taking a slightest risk. Even they have paid attention in recruiting well-experienced & reliable pilots.
Employees as Brand Ambassadors
For its re-branding, MAS is also looking to actively involve its staff members across various teams and departments so as to garner real-time feedback on various aspects. The airline is investing its time into creating ’employee brand ambassadors’ who can give guidance on the new MAS direction.
A Brand with Low Cost
Malaysia Airlines offers the lowest price to the passengers when compared to its other competitor airway companies. Thereby MAS is trying attract more economy class customers. They would like to position their brand as a ‘safe & comfortable flight at low cost’.
Malaysian Airlines have developed the interior of their flights more comfortable for the passengers than earlier with well cushioned, comfortable seats, having a good leg space. Also online meal preferences are available before flying. They are also focused in improving their on-board flight services & the hospitality to the passengers. The touch screen devices in the flight, rich with many modes of entertainment keep the passengers alive throughout the flight. From recent times, Malaysia Airlines has become a safe & comfortable family flight with low price.
The airline is very much ingrained with the culture of Malaysia. They refer Malaysia Airline as a Malaysian icon and that is true. Outside of Malaysia also today, the airline’s loyalty runs deep with non-resident Malaysians & foreign passengers because of the emotional warmth and support associated with the brand.
Finally, the re-branding strategy of Malaysia Airlines contributed immensely to come out from the disaster, which they faced 2 years ago, winning back the hearts of the people & ensuring a comfortable & a safe flying experience at a low cost.
- Abdul, Azwan, Fong, K, Rashid 2016, ‘Total Factor Productivity Analysis of Malaysia Airlines: Lessons from the Past & Directions for the Future’, ISSN 0739-8859, DOI 10.1016/j.retrec.2016.07.004
- ‘After Two Disasters, Can Malaysia Airlines Still Attract Passengers?’ 2014, All Things Considered, July 23
- Anand, Y, Burrell 2015, ‘Branding your Agency’s Multicultural Marketing Strategy’, Public Relations Tactics, 22 Issue 6, p 9
- Iacobucci, D 2014, Chapter 7- Brands, Marketing Management (MM4)
- Jenkins, Nash 2016, ‘Malaysia Airlines’ CEO Has Quit After Less Than a Year’, Time.com, Accession No 115298380
- Keller, Kottler 2012, Chapter 9 – Creating Brand Equity, Marketing Management
- Mohd, N, Suki 2014, ‘Passenger Satisfaction with Airline Service Quality in Malaysia: A Structural Equation Modelling Approach’, The Marketing of Transportation Services, p 26-32
- ‘Strategic Branding & Marketing’ 2015, Alaska Business Monthly –Oct, 31 Issue 10, p112-115
- The University of California, USA 2015, ‘The Secrets of Branding: Marketing’