The management of Emirates Airline, which is based in Dubai, have achieved a great deal in the 30 years they've stewarded the company from start up to world domination.
Only a few years ago, the brand was perceived as highly inaccessible to most of us travelers and primarily an Arab based airline. Fast-forward to 2012 when some savvy decisions were made that helped the company work through tough challenges and thorny issues.
The management started to notice that their customers had new demands and motivations from historical travelers, and that these could change the airline trajectory. Another thing they saw was tremendous growth. For example, as one of the fastest growing companies - the Google of the airline business so to speak - the number of new employees joining the company from all four corners of the globe has as accelerated as quickly as the airlines appetite for acquiring new state of the art aircraft. According to this video, it was over $60 billion USD in new aviation investments. These kinds of issues create great challenges. And great opportunities.
According to Departures magazine: Achieving Emirates' goal of global dominance is due, in large measure, to Sir Tim Clark, who arrived at Emirates at its birth, working in what would turn out to be a critical area: route planning. Two-thirds of the world's population was within eight hours of Dubai, but the airline's "Airbus A300 B4s barely made it from Dubai to London," according to Aviation Week. So, the publication continued, "the lobbying for more capable aircraft began." With each advancement in aircraft, from the introduction of the Boeing 777 in 1996 to the Airbus A380 in 2008, came an expansion of Emirates' routes until it could "link any two points in the world now with one stop in Dubai," as Sir Maurice Flanagan once said. Some carped that Emirates could purchase planes by royal decree and cherry-pick prime routes in countries whose airlines were burdened by shareholders and antiquated systems, giving it an unfair advantage. Clark wasn't made available to interview, but his representatives sent a slick, 27-page dossier, titled "Airlines and Subsidy: Our Position," in which Clark insisted that Emirates competes--and dominates--fairly, receiving neither government subsidies or free or cheap fuel and gets no "government injections, borrowings or financing...regardless of shareholder status." Emirates was preparing to launch daily nonstop flights from New York to Dubai. However, focus groups conducted earlier that year among premium-class passengers of other airlines in New York showed an alarming trend: Most potential customers did not know anything about Emirates Airline. Marketers held up the airline's name and logo, only to get blank stares and questions: "Do they speak English? Do the flight attendants wear veils? Can you drink?" "Americans need to know you before they will trust you," Gary Leopold, the Boston-based advertising and marketing executive who conducted the focus groups, reported back to Emirates. "And they need to trust you before they will fly you."
This is where personal experience comes in. We started working with the management of Emirates Airline, and together set off to create the now famous Hello Tomorrow Cultural Movement strategy and marketing campaign. The advertising focused on an idea rather than keeping up with Jonses mentality and showing ads saturated with features and facilities you see from American Airlines, Delta, and fast growing Turkish Airlines.
An idea is the most powerful thing. When writing the phrase Hello Tomorrow, I wanted to give people less to worry about and more to feel optimistic about. We are curators of culture and looking for what's the unmet need, what's emotional and pleasurable and beneficial to travelers.
And what happened? It went from 'That's not for me!" to "I must try that." Not an easy task. Today, it has many different agencies working for the brand across the globe because it has many seats to fill, but one thing remains consistent. Hello Tomorrow continues to abide by its mantra of making the world smaller to reduce misconceptions and misunderstandings between people and standing for the best travel experience on earth.
That's how you help brands grow.
By Scott Goodson, founder of StrawberryFrog and author of best seller: 'Uprising: How to build a brand and change the world by sparking cultural movements.'