Is Rebranding Necessary?
Evolution of the American Airlines logo
Now that American Airlines has rebranded itself and is becoming the “new” American, we thought it be a good time to talk about it. Rebranding: is it more than a fresh coat of paint?
Some may feel rebranding is a waste of time and resources. Others may feel it’s superficial, hollow, trivial. For others the word “rebranding” is overused and carries little in terms of meaning. And still others say without substantive changes to the way a business operates, no amount of paint, livery changes, or tweaks to the logo will amount to much. Having experienced rebranding a couple of times ourselves, we can surely find value in the sentiments expressed by many.
On occasion rebranding is necessary. Anything left in its original state for too long can become tired, stale, boring. American’s foray into rebranding itself comes at a very crucial time for the airline that finds itself in Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Some would agree, now is not the time for this. Others would agree, now is the time for this. It’s our opinion that Chapter 11 is a fundamental time to signal change and new beginnings.
When it comes to charting a new path through a change to the logo and livery, the change most always come from the top. This can be problematic for the employees of the company. Some employees may wonder, “Why didn’t the company confer with us about the details?” Imagine 85,000+ American Airlines employees adding individual input into the color palette, the livery, the logo, and what each element should represent. We seriously doubt any rebranding changes would be taking place. So, decisions around rebranding come from the top down, especially for large, complex organizations. More than likely a good number of employees will be disappointed, let down, left shaking their heads. At the same time a good number of employees will like, champion, and embrace the new look. Still others will grow to like the changes.
Change is never easy. Especially for employees. They’ve poured their hearts and souls into their companies; worked nights, holiday, and weekends; taken salary cuts, and have endured an industry wrought with change. Of course they’re going to feel strongly about any changes that take place to their work environment.
With this being said, rebranding holds a lot of weight with the traveling public. However, it may hold slightly more weight, and be more important for the employees to embrace the “new” than the flying public. Subsequently, we feel rebranding is more for the internal customer than the external customer. Does the traveling public really care what the outside of a plane looks like? Some really do. Even with those that do care, the majority will get used to “new” fairly quickly. For the employees, the way the plane looks and feels, and the way the logo resonates with them, will truly matter over the long term. Ask any employee of a merger how they felt when “their” logo disappeared and then they had to embrace a new logo, a new culture. It really does matter. If the employees aren’t pleased with the changes it’ll be reflected in their attitude, how they feel about the company, and the services they provide.
So, for success to take place, where does it all begin? How about at the top. For American, the leadership must be behind the “new” 100%. They must embody the “new”, talk the “new”, walk the “new”. Not only is the traveling public looking to you for direction, your employees are too. They want it. Need it. So, be mindful. This is a very delicate and tricky road you’re about to embark on. We’re here to tell you, success can be yours.
The “new” American Airlines livery
As we stated, we’ve experienced rebranding a couple of times in the past; rather successful ones. We went through the highs, the lows, the skepticism. What we found, however, were leaders from the top down who embraced the “new” and showed the way. They engaged with and tapped into the employees who also embraced the “new” and allowed them to be; allowed them to champion the cause for change. They realized that change is never easy and that together great things can be accomplished.
We’ll be anticipating and monitoring the changes taking place at the “new” American. We wish CEO Tom Horton, the leaders, and all of the emps at American Airlines the very best and leave you with the following quotes.
A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way. —John Maxwell
Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion – Jack Welch