Frontier Airlines Flying High with New/Old Brand

Written by Kimberly MacArthur Graham on September 11, 2014

Yesterday was a day full of animals, some friendly and some decidedly less so. Let’s start with the friendly.

As part of Frontier Airlines’ brand refresh, unveiled in Denver on Tuesday, the plane livery grants even more real estate to the beloved tail animals. P.S. Studios, who did the rebrand, surveyed to find out what the rest of us already know: they’d have been idiots to eliminate the folksy bear, rabbit, etc. Most people bond strongly and instantly with animals, even ones that would normally eat them, which makes animals great brand ambassadors.

Now, briefly to the unfriendly – and bear with me; there is a point. Last night my exceptionally mellow dog and I were accosted by an off-leash canine that was decidedly not interested in making our journey pleasant, nor in having us choose her sidewalk for our return trip. Even as the snarling darling was jumping all over me, the owner only reluctantly came out and collared her – and then told me the dog was in the right because “this is her property.” He was of course wrong (sidewalk is public), but a great illustration of two things. First, how some people bond with even dangerous animals and seem to hate humans.  And second, in the value of good communication. And I guess thirdly, but we won’t mention this again, precisely why some humans start to prefer befriending animals.

But back to Frontier, which values their animal ambassadors but more importantly, understands the role of good PR in achieving brand success. Let’s take this rebrand as an example. While freshened up, it’s hardly a radical departure. In addition to super-sizing the tail animals, they’ve updated their look with vivid green in place of gray and use of a new, stylized “F” and an arrow element borrowed from past Frontier logos. So nice, but maybe not news-worthy.

But Frontier is very very good at publicity. They know to “leak” upcoming changes and they love inviting the media to special preview events. Smart tactics like this, which create special occasions, help them build buzz around relatively benign events. In my recent blog about Hershey’s rebrand, I alluded to the value of getting people to talk about a rebrand, even if it’s negative, but Frontier is a great example of a company that takes control and maximizes return on all their marketing efforts by conceiving of and executing them in an integrated manner.

The footnote to the Frontier rebrand is that the actual roll-out will be slow, at least of the airplane livery. It costs $50,000 and takes 2 weeks to paint a plane, so it’s not like they’ll all be changed overnight. But you can bet that, each time one is, they will find some way to get some mileage out of it!

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