Behind the Rebrand: Virgin Atlantic

Rebranding an aircraft fleet is far more than the typical paint job.

Repainting a commercial aircraft takes four days, and the paint job will typically last between 8 and 10 years. So when Virgin Atlantic decided it was time to reboot its brand it required a substantial investment of time and money.

The rebrand, which was unveiled yesterday, is the culmination of two years of work at the airline giant which has set out to define exactly what the Virgin Atlantic brand is all about. Joe Ferry, head of design at Virgin Atlantic, said the old logo had been much imitated and may have been perceived as ‘too budget’ amongst some consumers.

‘When you are a challenger brand the most important thing is to challenge yourself,’ explains Ferry.

The new look has also been created in order to maximise impact across social media channels. In research the airline looked at hundreds of You Tube videos of planes taking off and landing in which the tail fin was clearly visible, but the brand was too obscured to be seen.

The livery of the plane has also been given added zing with a new type of highly reflective red paint. Dee Cooper, director of product and service at Virgin, says most consumers see planes from very far away so the new look will be more recognisable. The Virgin Atlantic brand has also been painted on the underside of the aircraft.

The comprehensive rebrand follows the launch of the airline's new Gatwick Clubhouse for its upper class passengers, part of an ongoing strategy to invest in the quality of the product offering.  ‘We invested £2m in our Upper Class product after 9/11, it gave us the edge over our competitors,’ added Ferry.

Virgin's group pre-tax operating loss for the period March 2009 to February 2010 was £132m, compared with a profit of £60m for March 2008 to February 2009.

Revenues for 2009/10 decreased 8.6% to £2.35bn but operating costs reduced 8%.

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