Centerlines - June 2013 - (Page 30)
BY KATHRYN B. CREEDY
Differentiate markets, build loyalty
and overcome airline missteps
File for registration with the Patent
Office and state trademark licensing
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
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
CENTERLINES | JUNE 2013
Noah Lagos, director, St. Pete-Clearwater
International Airport, unveils the
airport’s brand-clad entrance monument.
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
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
Index of Advertisers/Advertiser.com
Centerlines - June 2013