Recently, AirAsia Digital, the digital arm of Capital A, rebranded to MOVE Digital (MOVE) in a bid to emphasise its commitment towards travel. MOVE’s travel platform business, AirAsia Superapp, will also undergo a brand refresh and will see its name change to “AirAsia move” as part of the ongoing transformation. Along with the name rebrand, it also shifted away from its iconic red colour by making MOVE’s logo green – which one might consider the move odd since AirAsia has always been associated with its signature red.
From its aeroplane livery to its campaigns, red is often splashed all over AirAsia’s branding. Often the choice of colour falls under the basic participles of branding and deepens the element of identification and association with the brand, making recall much easier. Beyond simply being an aesthetic consideration, colours in branding are picked specifically to set the tone and evoke a perception that the brand desires often synonymous with what it offers. More often than not, the colour of a brand’s logo becomes as important as the logo itself.
While AirAsia is yet to respond to A+M’s queries on the colour change, Ian YH Tan, a lecturer in strategic communication at the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information, NTU explained that making such potent moves in branding could cause a loss of consumer connection. “Brands that have spent years associating with a colour need to stay consistent,” he said.
This is because consumers often use brand colours to identify the company’s products on shelves and apps on their phones. “If you change your brand colour, there must be a strong reason for doing so, because the risk of losing customer connection is high,” he explained.
Why the move to green?
A former aviation industry marketer, Sagar Paranjpe, now managing director at Bonsey Jaden, said that brands should stick to the colours it is largely associated with unless it is changing it to make a stand. His take on the AirAsia’s shift in colour is that the decision comes
with a degree of confidence that the airline’s branding is strong enough for people to associate it with anything else.
“After a couple of years of trying, the team probably realised that the AirAsia branding is too strong a branding for people to associate it with anything else,” Paranjpe explained. Quoting the example of “Journify”, a Superapp created by Malaysian Aviation Group during his time with the brand, he said, “We didn’t use the name, the colours or the personality of Malaysia Airlines because we weren’t confident that the audience would associate the eCommerce site with the airline.”
While the change in colour is drastic, it doesn’t necessarily make it a bad thing, argued Ambrish Chaudhry, the head of strategy at Design Bridge and Partners. He said that the change is a classic case of endorsement branding. Given MOVE’s OTA+ ambitions, he believes that:
A certain amount of distance from AirAsia’s famous branding is strategically useful.
“First off, it puts competitors who might be open to being a part of the platform at ease. Secondly, it sends the message to customers that the MOVE offer is varied, lifestyle-oriented and broader than airline tickets,” he added. With that intent, moving away from red works for the brand, he explained.
Was the rebranding needed?
AirAsia’s choice to go green with Move also mimics the existing trends in the ride-hailing space with the likes of Grab and Gojek cementing green as their colours – albeit of slightly different shades. So, why enter a space where green is already evocative of another brand?
Paranjpe believes in the philosophy, “If you can’t beat them, join them”. If audiences have now associated the colour green with trusted rides and deliveries, there is not much value in fighting the wave. Instead, brands should thank the likes of Grab and Gojek for setting the precedent and ride it.
If you have deep pockets like airasia, then differentiations can be made over time. Right now, it’s just about grabbing the market share.
He added that it was smart to get consumers to try out the app, use it and then over a period of time, the differentiations will create loyalty. Moreover, rebranding also works best when a brand needs to catch up with the times and become more relatable to the decision-making audience. One classic example of this is when Coca-Cola changed up its tagline, which saw a refresh after 17 years, from “Open happiness” to “Taste the feeling”.
According to him this change clearly shows the difference between an audience that is more emotional such as Gen X or early Gen Y and an audience that is a lot more functional such as late Gen Y-ers and early Gen Z-ers.
The way Chaudhry sees it, any good rebrand is a balance of hard-earned past linkages and a new message. The degree of change in the business is usually a marker of how much the brand should shift, he said.
In the case of Move there seems to be a significant restructure within the group and independence in operations. The shift away from the Air Asia brand is a strong marker of this change.
However, while a rebrand marks a shift for a company, it also needs to keep the consumer as the central tenet of its transition. Tan explained that rebranding is ripe for failure when it is not thinking about the customer, but just aims to undergo a change due to managements direction or a desire.
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This content was originally published here.