Virgin Atlantic is a savvy British-owned airline with significant brand equity in the UK and Europe, but not in the US. Amidst a competitive, recession-ridden market, Virgin wanted to expand its brand into the US, and leverage its membership program through conversational and experiential marketing and reimagined “Why” branding.
Ideon’s analysis revealed Virgin Atlantic’s small footprint in the US did not tarnish the brand’s value—on the contrary, it enhanced its ‘rebel’ lovemark equity. It also showed that while the brand had more influence than its size would suggest, Virgin Atlantic was missing the opportunity to use member intelligence to drive service improvements, member bookings and overall brand engagement.
Working with multiple agencies, Ideon channeled Virgin Atlantic’s iconic brand strength into a membership-based, conversational marketing program, which departed from the monologue mileage programs typically found in the airline category.
Ideon named and developed Virgin Atlantic’s new strategic conversation vehicle, “The Advisory Panel” and invited flying club members to join the panel, share their views on multiple topics in exchange for points. Member insight quickly led to quick brand, service and operations fixes, an increased understanding of member behaviors, and an understanding of how to tap into a far greater share of their minds and wallets.
Ideon expanded and reinforced Virgin Atlantic’s definition of flying as an experience rather than merely travel, putting its members at the helm of each experience—shifting Virgin Atlantic’s brand positioning to cutting edge and visionary, while also human and approachable.
This transformative rebrand positioned Virgin Atlantic US as a competitive and profitable force in the airline industry, leading to Delta’s 49% ownership of the company in 2012, and boosting Virgin Atlantic’s share in the lucrative US-London market. By 2019 the airline reached record highs revenue, and while financially hobbled by the pandemic, today continues to operate with an unwavering commitment to its customers.
Thrilled with Ideon’s work, the US Digital Marketing and Communications Team at Virgin says, “Absolutely brilliant sleuthing, strategy, design and production work!”.