Centerlines - June 2013 - (Page 30)

MARKETING Perfecting and Protecting Your Brand BY KATHRYN B. CREEDY Differentiate markets, build loyalty and overcome airline missteps File for registration with the Patent Office and state trademark licensing F or better or for worse, an airport’s brand is largely defined by the perceptions of customers, vendors and business partners. But, rather than sitting idly, airports can take control of this perception by developing a strong branding message—and making sure they are living up to the brand’s promises every day. Branding “is a business imperative in today’s globally connected world,” said Jim Rudolph, now president of JGR Communications, who helped shepherd the rebranding of Edmonton International Airport when he worked at the airport. “This is a world where consumers are as much, if not more, in control of defining brands. You can’t leave your identity to chance because it is critical to distinguishing your airport,” he said. An airport’s branding concept must be easy to grasp, not only by users but by all employees, said Rudolph. Once they fully understand the brand, employees use it as a rallying point around which they deliver the brand promise. In this way, a brand can serve as a strong tool in mitigating the impact of negative perceptions. Shaping public opinion Nowhere was this more important than at Milwaukee’s Mitchell Airport, said Patricia Rowe, its director of marketing and public relations. In reading the coverage of Milwaukee over the last few years, locals would be forgiven for thinking the worst about Mitchell. First, there was the financial trouble at Midwest Airlines, which was then acquired by Republic Airways Holdings. Then, the fact that Republic Airways Holdings merged Frontier and Midwest Airlines—coupled with the withering competition between Frontier, Air Tran and Southwest—finally drove Frontier from its Milwaukee hub in favor of Denver. “It definitely provided interesting times,” said Rowe. “We had two airlines hubbing here—rare in today’s airline world. Air Tran not only had a hub, but had built a base, and then Southwest came in and the competition was raised a notch. Once they merged, questions were raised since Southwest does not 30 CENTERLINES | JUNE 2013 Noah Lagos, director, St. Pete-Clearwater ater International Airport, unveils the airport’s brand-clad entrance monument. ent. use the hub business model the way Air Tran did. All this volatility meant flattened traffic.” What local reporters failed to understand was the rich market Milwaukee presents—an environment not lost on the legacy carriers, all of which serve the airport. The high population area holds the highest concentration of high-income,

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Centerlines - June 2013

President's Message
Canadian Airports
Associates' Corner
Policy Corner
The Control Tower
On the Hill and on the Stump
Cover Story: Privatization
Customer Service: Partners in a Better Passenger Experience
Marketing Perfecting-And Protecting-Your Brand
Now Underway
Grand Openings
New Members
Index of Advertisers/
Box Scores

Centerlines - June 2013