A lesson in branding for Vijay Mallaya

I am a little surprised as to why Vijay Mallaya (VM) is so confused about branding issues related to his airlines as he has been pretty successful at building his other brands.

Here is the story so far. When VM bought Air Deccan, the plan was to run the two airlines seperately. Thats what Gopinathan was telling the world. Then Air Deccan was rechristened as “Simplifly Deccan.” If you remember, VM spent a lot of money in the rebranding exercise and both the brands were advertised together. A mistake as far as I think. Again we were told that that the strategy is run both the airlines seperately with a common backend operations. Just a few days back, I read that the plan is to run just one airline Kingfisher which according to me is the right decision. Now I am reading that there will be 2 brands – “Kingfisher” and “Kingfisher Max.” Low cost positioning will be jettisoned. Kingfisher will fly abroad and Kingfisher Max in India. Of course, it was reported that Kingfisher Max is only one of the names being considered.

My question is why does VM need 2 brands? I think VM can use Kingfisher brand for International and domestic operation.

The lesson is that just giving different names is not what branding is all about. The brand needs a positioning. Also, brand extensions have no value. Kingfisher has a good positioning which is valid for International and domestic markets.

In my earlier post, I had predicted that the best decision for Vijay Mallaya is to run one airline. Logic behind this is very simple. VM cannot achieve any significant synergies as running a low cost airline is very different to running a full service airline. And if VM is able to run the low cost airline on time and provide good service then there will be cannalabisation of sales between his own airlines. There seems to no point in going for brand extensions which will just result in extra expenditure, operational hassles and confusion in the market place. So the best option for VM – run one airline.

avinash Narula

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