BA lands “most improved” brand plaudit

British Airways’ “To fly. To serve” brand refresh and increased investment in customer service and loyalty initiatives have helped it to become the “most improved” brand in terms of consumer perception, according to a study.

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The carrier was the most improved company across all sectors in YouGov’s Brand Index in 2011, which measures how consumers rate brands in terms of impression, quality, value, reputation, satisfaction and whether they would recommend them to others.

BA’s Index score was 22 at the end of last year, up 10.4 points from 2010 when the airline was embroiled in industrial disputes that reached an agreement last summer and the travel industry suffered the financial effects and logistical strains of an Icelandic volcano eruption.

Despite its dramatic turnaround in Index score over the year, BA was still behind rivals Virgin Atlantic and Emirates in 2011, which scored 29.4 and 23.6 respectively.

BA unveiled a new brand campaign with the motto “To fly. To serve” in September, which the airline said would be a “stake in the ground” for its future growth.

The airline said it would invest £5bn in improving its customer experience offering, including new technology for ticketing, an internal engagement programme to help inspire pride in the brand and the relaunch of its Executive Club loyalty scheme.

Abigail Comber, who was promoted earlier this month from head of brand engagement to head of global marketing, says the refocus on the customer has helped fuel BA’s turnaround.

“[Customers] are seeing our cabin crew using iPads, talking about their journey plans and engaging with them as real customers who we know. They are seeing us live up to the promise that they have wanted for some time. We are putting our [To Fly, To Serve] communications right next to it,” she adds.

BA parent company International Airlines Group, which also owns Spanish airline Iberia, reported revenues of €12.3bn (£10.2bn) in the nine months to 30 September, up 11.6% year on year. Operating profit rose 75% to €383m (£318m).

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