Leave it to Virgin America, the yet-to-hit-the-skies domestic airline, to come up with another innovative way to connect with prospective customers: a “name our planes” contest for its fleet. This week it officially christened its first aircraft “Jefferson Airplane,” a nod to its San Francisco base. Virgin is a brand that clearly understands the need to bond with customers, and those principles have been passed onto the new airline. Virgin America’s VP of Marketing, Spence Kramer, provided some insights on the airline’s approach in an interview with me a year ago for CMO:
“Our aim is to make air travel a little more fun, a little more personal. We hope people can actually love an airline rather than just tolerate it. Like other Virgin brands, we want this to be a fun place to work, a good value for our customers and a bit of a renegade in an otherwise commoditized industry.”
Kramer went on to talk about the importance of making an emotional connection with customers:
“Brands that don’t make emotional connections, especially from the inside—the product side—out, will eventually lose. Emotional marketing doesn’t mean much if the company’s people, products and services don’t back it up. Nike doesn’t succeed because Wieden and Kennedy makes great commercials. Rather, Nike succeeds because its core belief—its brand promise, its love of the potential for the athlete inside everyone—lives inside the people in Beaverton. When that love is manifested in their gear, consumers manifest it in their own lives. It’s not only an emotional connection, it’s an individual one. That’s what we’re hoping for, too: a one-to-one relationship, but with many thousands of people.”
The airline is waiting for final approval from the U.S. Department of Transportation and the FAA to begin carrying customers. Can’t wait to fly it! Sans toothpaste, of course.