British Airways

Repositioning Strategy and Global Implementation

From 1995 to 1998 Luxury Branding’s Founder, Piers Schmidt, led a 30-strong team of strategists, designers and project managers at Newell & Sorrell responsible for the controversial rebranding of British Airways.

While it was the colourful symbolism of the original tailfins that aroused the public interest and Lady Thatcher’s wrath, the identity programme ran deeper in its ambition to express the airline’s new ‘Global and Caring’ positioning as a ‘Citizen of the World’.

Piers was responsible not only for the brand and identity strategy but also for ensuring that the airline’s management and uniformed staff were fully versant with the thinking behind the initiative. This required him to make more than 300 presentations to nearly 6,000 people, globally, over a two-year period.

Although the new identity was clearly the most visible aspect of Piers’ contribution to British Airways, other projects included rationalising the diverse portfolio of sub-brands, a revisioning exercise for the BA terminal at JFK International Airport, a communications strategy for the extension of the flat bed concept from First to Club, and a research and concept study into the viability of a low-cost, no-frills airline in Scandinavia. This project was the precursor to the airline that later became known as ‘Go’.

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