I have heard the interiors of Virgin America planes described as everything from “swanky” to a “strip club in the sky.” While it might not be everyone’s style, it’s certainly better than your other options. Unless you prefer the Reagan-era textiles mottled with burnt coffee you might find on Delta.
What’s great about how Virgin America built their brand is that it has a clear point of view – flying should be cool. Amazingly, this is a completely differentiated position amongst domestic carriers. With everyone focused on value and honey roasted peanuts, the actual flying experience seems to have fallen by the wayside. In building a brand, Virgin America zeroed in on the experience of flying. From mood lighting to touch screens to black-clad pilots and flight attendants, flying on Virgin America feels different from flying any other airline. Some might even go so far as to say it’s enjoyable. Even the outsides of their planes are cool. They have plane names like Air Colbert and California Dreaming. Virgin America even found a way to take that boring safety video everyone ignores and make it awesome.
Virgin America took a fairly stale market and used almost every conceivable point of customer interaction as an opportunity to build a brand that’s different from the ground up. In the face of tradition, all of these decisions could be seen as risky. We couldn’t disagree more. When it comes to building a brand, not taking any risks in favor of some subtle grey tones and a logo with wings on it seems like a pretty big gamble.
There’s no such thing as a free lunch, but there is such a thing as Free Advice.