Re Branding
British Airways


When British Airways went through an expensive re branding exercise in 1996, it couldn’t have picked a worse time. The media contrasted the costly makeover with the ‘cost-saving’ redundancies announced shortly afterwards.

There was also criticism about the nature of the new identity. The airline had abandoned the Union Jack colors on the tail-fin, and replaced them with a series of different images representing a more international identity.

Many saw this move as unpatriotic, and Richard Branson, boss of the company’s arch-rival Virgin Atlantic, was quick to rub salt in the wounds by painting Union Jacks on its aircraft and using British Airways’ former ‘Fly the Flag’ slogan. It wasn’t long before British Airways scrapped the new and expensive tail-fin designs. Ironically, US customers and partners had stated to complain that they wanted Britain’s flagship airline to look more British.

Lessons from Rey

  • Co-operate don’t aggravate. If Procter & Gamble had co-operated with the health authorities from the start it would have been able to limit the negative media coverage.
  • Kill the brand, save the company. For companies with numerous brands it is often better to admit defeat early on and terminate a brand for the sake of the overall reputation of the company.

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