In the eight years after being fully privatized, Turkish Airlines increased its yearly passenger load more than 230% from 17 to 39.5 million, while revenue skyrocketed more than 490% from $2.33bn to $11.4bn. The carrier now flies to 243 destinations, in 104 countries and has been crowned Europe’s best airline 3 years in a row. In an industry plagued by bankruptcy, consolidation and government bailouts, this is a remarkable story to say the least. Yet, to build on this momentum and compete with airlines having larger destination networks, newer planes and higher recognition, Turkish Airlines needed to enhance its brand, its value proposition and its basis for customer relationships.
When the team at Prophet started working with Turkish Airlines, we were curious to learn more about the ambition and business strategy of the company. A key element of this strategy was to draw more international transfer passengers into Istanbul and better compete with other transfer hubs in the region. Through our research we also started to build a picture of how the aviation industry might evolve in the future. What quickly became apparent was the idea that cities would become as, if not more, important than countries – it was the London 2012 Olympics, not England 2012. The reason was simple - in the future more and more people would live in cities and this increased urbanization would lead to more air travel.
Combining these two insights, we realized that although Turkish Airlines is the proud national carrier of the Republic of Turkey - the opportunity for the brand was to highlight its urban credentials. Further, it has a natural asset, namely Istanbul, a city with a rich heritage that is charming, fascinating and culturally rich. At the same time it had modernity, a vibrant start-up and entrepreneurial community, up-to-date facilities and a hip music, fashion and design scene. Compared to the cities of competitor airlines from Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha - a huge advantage. The challenge was to find ways to leverage this asset.
Once the brand idea was agreed, the next step was to communicate it in a clear and memorable way. Having immersed ourselves in the sights and sounds of the city we knew that, above all, Istanbul was a place of contrasts. A city that dates back to antiquity now with a thriving start-up and design scene. Istanbul has tradition and modernity, change and continuity, different cultures, people and perspectives all mixing in one place. Nowhere in the world, did we witness so many different aspects of life sitting side by side - living together and working together. This infinite variety resulted in something amazing, unexpected and new. We captured this spirit and the essence of the new Turkish Airlines brand as being “Delightfully Different.”
Delightfully Different was the starting point for developing a better and more unique customer experience for Turkish Airlines. This involved exploring the customer journey before and after the flight in precise detail, highlighting current strengths and weaknesses, areas for improvement and opportunities to create special moments that surprise and delight. Whether it is serving traditional Turkish coffee and tea at 35,000 feet with Flying Chefs or making the arrival lounge at Ataturk Airport as special and relaxing as the flight, our ambition was to create memorable occasions that reminded passengers why Turkish is different.
Our work didn’t stop there. We also wrote briefs using the new positioning for a new visual identity and corporate design, advertising, PR and digital campaigns, along with sponsorship opportunities for the brand. Rollout of the new concepts began with a new advertising campaign featuring Kobe Bryant and Lionel Messi (already viewed over 140 million times on Youtube) and the launch of the new in-flight catering concepts and the arrival lounge at Ataturk Airport in Istanbul.
Turkish Airlines is continuing to soar. In the first nine months after launch, passenger numbers increased 24%, revenue 28% and operating profit 12%. In the often-turbulent business of airlines, that's some Delightfully Different news we can all toast to.
Learn how Prophet has helped other companies develop a stronger brand identity by checking out our case studies.