Brands in the News

United’s Good Start

11 Oct 2013  

It is hard to miss United’s new branding campaign. It is everywhere.

Last night I watched a United spot on TV, this morning I saw about 15 United ads on the train and this afternoon I found all sorts of United digital advertising as I surfed the web.


United Advertising


You can learn more about the campaign here:

United clearly is investing a ton of money in this new effort.

Is it a good campaign?

This week I asked my marketing strategy students to grade the campaign. Results were mixed; some applauded the effort but many were skeptical. The average gave was a C.

I am more positive; I think this new campaign will build the United brand.

United is at a critical moment. In 2010, the airline merged with Continental, forming a global aviation giant. The integration was bumpy; customer complaints rose and on-time performance deteriorated. United executives, customers and front-line employees were all rather frustrated with the situation. Things are now getting better on the operations front but questions remain.

So the challenge for United is to revitalize the brand and get people excited about its future.

The new campaign does this. It is aspirational and positive. There are clear benefits. The branding is strong. The campaign links back to two key branding elements, the friendly skies and Rhapsody in Blue. Building on these makes enormous sense.

Is it perfect? No.

The new campaign doesn’t differentiate United from other airlines. It doesn’t explain why someone should fly United instead of American or Delta or JAL. Everyone has flat beds and many destinations.

But the United campaign is a good first step. It will build the brand and give employees and customers something to feel good about.

As United surely knows, a journey takes time. This is a good start.

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Last week more than two dozen brand leaders gathered in Evanston for the Kellogg on Branding program. It was a terrific group from all over the world. We had participants from countries including Indonesia, Pakistan, Peru, Brazil, Italy and Denmark. One of the things I love about teaching at Kellogg is that I get to learn about different brands and the challenges they face. It was a great week.

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