Thursday, September 09, 2010

Virgin Blue starts brand review - why not rebrand Ansett?

News out that Virgin Blue CEO John Borghetti has brought on long term collaborator Hans Hulsbosch to help with a brand review for Virgin Blue.

Hulsbosch previously helped Qantas with their brand review though I think the minimal changes of lengthening the Roo tail and slanting the acronym is more of a tweak than a review.

From press reports it looks like nothing is off the table including scrapping the use of the world "Virgin". Given the current DJ product and announced plans for it, I recommend DJ drop the Virgin brand, write a cheque to administrators KordaMentha and re-brand the whole business Ansett.

I am being facetious of course but there is some rational thinking behind this. Below is a table comparing the Ansett of 2001 with the Virgin Blue product of the same year and of 2010

My point is that as Virgin Blue chases more and more of the Qantas business (aiming to increase corporate share from 5% to 20%) it is getting closer and closer to the Ansett business model and further and further away for what made it a success. From the table you can see that the edgy brand and free food are the last pieces differentiating DJ from Ansett. They need to be very careful in this process that DJ do not end up catching just enough of Qantas share to lose what built their brand and suffer the same fate as Ansett.

PS: for those that don't know Ansett was the long term Star Alliance full service competitor of Qantas that went bust in 2001 after (but not caused by) Sept 11. Virgin Blue launched in August 2000


kcknacks said...

Hi Tim - as my first trip ever to Australia coincided with 9/11 and the collapse of Ansett, I didn't have enough direct experience with the airline to know how nearly identical they were to QF. I've recently done some blogging on whether DJ can catch QF in the corporate sector ( but you may be right: going corporate could just be putting Virgin on the road to oblivion?!?

steve sherlock said...

Yeah Tim – i agree with you that there are some real challenges for the Virgin brand.

trying to reposition a brand from > LCC to > mid level then > business, is no mean feat..

Toyota didn’t try to reposition into Luxury, instead they developed Lexus.

Qantas didn’t reposition into LCC, instead they developed Jetstar. (note: jetstar making more money than qantas, and Q frequent flyers more than both)

The other brands that Virgin have developed (Pacific blue & V Australia) were due to licencing restriction from Singapore Airlines i.e. virgin name only used in oz. I think these subbrands are both weak names compared to Jetstar (i.e. seven letters and one word).

also depends if the targeted business travellers are the budget minded or the italian suit minded? or some other...

Al Reis in Origin of Brands, argued that branding is like digging a deep hole. Trying to reposition a deep hole up or down in the category is very hard. most fail, others come up with new category brands, al la jetstar or lexus.

id suggest in the review they consider a 2nd brand category approach i.e. LCC and Mid/Business.

Or as you suggested just resusatate Ansett ;-)

Tim Hughes said...

@kcknacks and @steve s

Thanks for comments guys- good one. Borghetti has shown he is not afraid to make regular and radical changes at DJ. Everything is on the table (except - prob - my idea to buy the ansett brand:))

Woody said...

Vergin' Ansett!
...nah .. Borghetti isn't that clever.

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