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What Can You Learn from Virgin America?


Posted by on May 23, 2008

inside the cabin of virgin americaRecently I flew on Virgin America airlines from San Francisco to Los Angeles. I haven’t flown on Virgin American in a long time and I was pleasantly surprised and impressed. There are a lot of airlines out there that we can all choose to fly on and in fact I usually just fly on Southwest Airlines. This time I decided to try something different (mainly because the Southwest option just didn’t fit what I needed). Now out of all the airlines that you have heard about or have flown on do you identify with any of them? Have any of the airline branding or marketing messages really reached you? Do you even remember how a particular airline branded itself?

The first thing I noticed when I walked onto the plane was the neon purple lighting which replaced the dreary and dull white/yellow lighting that planes usually have. This gave very hip and cool feel vibe to the airline which I definitely liked. Second, all the seats were jet black and actually looked to have been made out of leather (don’t know if they were). This made the plane look a more luxurious and definitely went well with the neon purple lighting. Third, the first class and economy class were separated by glass, definitely adding a bit of uniqueness. Forth, Virgin America uses an online entertainment system called Red, which allows you to watch movies, play games, listen to music, or even order food, all from the touchscreen you have located right in front of you. Now this was definitely a neat feature that made me feel like I was flying on a limousine. Fifth, the staff was young and attractive, no to mention friendly. Finally, when you enter the plane you can hear a type of upbeat lounge music playing, it’s as if you went to a hip club in San Francisco to meet a few of your friends for drinks.

So let’s take a look at the ingredients that Virgin America used in their branding and take a quick look at how that branding comes across. We have cool music, attractive people, cutting edge entertainment system, great lighting, and comfortable seats, did I mention that I only played $59 each way? Virgin America branded themselves as the cool hip airline. As someone involved in the tech and marketing industry I truly felt at home, I was actually able to identify with Virgin America and I feel that out of all the airline personalities that exist, Virgin America is my personality.

Now think for a moment about your business, your website, your company, etc. How are you branding yourself? What kind of a message are you sending to people? What type of personality does your brand give off? When I think of Apple I think of hip and cool, when I think of Virgin America I think of sophisticated, classy, and hip. When people think of your brand, what do you think comes to their mind? More importantly what do you think you can change to make sure that your branding message is being conveyed clearly and accurately?

Virgin America broke the rules of traditional airlines, there is nothing typical, ordinary, or boring about their airline. Are you breaking the rules?

Thanks for reading!

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  • http://chicagotribune.com Daniel

    Yeah. JetBlue.

    Several Years ago, JetBlue positioned itself as the “cool” discount airline. While SouthWest and ATA offered cheap fares, JetBlue — through sleek visual branding — stood out as a company that’s not only cooler than its fellow discounters, but than most mainstream airlines as well.

  • http://www.thefutureorganization.com Jacob Morgan

    Hi Daniel,

    thanks for the comment. You are absolutely right about Jetblue, unfortunately I don’t think their status is the same today.

    Thanks for reading, hope to hear from you again!

  • http://sachendra.wordpress.com Sachendra Yadav

    Singapore Airlines has been following those rules for a while now, I don’t know about the hip part but overall experience is phenomenal.

    • Rosshjb

      But Singapore Airlines is rather stoic … wish it would adopt a hip and fun feel in some ways.

  • http://www.thefutureorganization.com Jacob Morgan

    Hi Sachendra,

    That’s good to know, I actually haven’t flown Singapore Airlines before but it’s good to know you had a pleasant experiences. If I have the option of flying with them in the future I will check them out. Thanks for the comment and thanks for reading!

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