If you want to stand out from your competitors and drive success, your brand must be more than a name.

For the third year in a row, Air New Zealand has been awarded the title of ‘Best Airline’ of the year by AirlineRatings.com along with taking out the category for ‘Best Economy Class’. But for a tiny country of 4.5 million with the national carrier up against a myriad of fierce competition, you might ask, what are they doing that is so different?

Air New Zealand’s success reflects an intelligent marketing and brand strategy which has propelled this airline above its competitors. No longer is a brand simply about your name and logo, it’s about the experience you get from the brand and making yourself stand out from the crowd. Air New Zealand has been successful with this by thinking outside of the box and adopting a new concept not traditionally seen in the airline sector – humour!

The marketing campaign led by Air New Zealand over recent years has been effective at personalising their brand and making it more relatable to people. If you have ever travelled on an Air New Zealand flight, you will know that their on-board safety videos are actually funny – or at the very least, the videos are effective at briefly drawing the attention of the seasoned traveller away from the inflight magazine or menu list just to see what all the fuss is about – which is the desired outcome right?! The airline’s safety videos are a good example of playing to the personal interests and lighter-side of their passengers by using humour and well-known celebrities to get buy-in. In the lead-up to this year’s Rugby World Cup, Air New Zealand released a safety/rap video featuring the national rugby team, the All Blacks, as the ‘Men in Black’ (aka the Will Smith movie franchise) using other international rugby personalities as villains (naturally).

Other marketing ploys have included ‘pimping’ out their planes with artistic paintwork designs from the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit movie franchises which were filmed in New Zealand and produced by Kiwi, Peter Jackson. They have also recently ditched the traditional white colour scheme for striking black planes with a splash of the iconic silver fern. New technology and innovations has also seen them leading the way, for example with the release of wristband technology for unaccompanied children designed to allow parents and caregivers to track the movements of their children throughout the flight process.

So, what can all brand owners learn from Air New Zealand’s success? If you want to stand out from your competitors and drive success, your brand must be more than a name – you need a carefully thought-out and strategized brand concept or perception that appeals to your consumers and which is consciously driven through all your marketing campaigns. Creative thinking and being a leader in the field is critical to being one step ahead of your competitors.

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