Air New Zealand

Air New Zealand

As the winner of the Best Effect Purple Pin for 2018, Air New Zealand has demonstrated over and over again that a sustained commitment to world class design can transform the way a brand is experienced by customers, strengthen a company’s internal culture and have a positive impact on the its bottom line.

The journey Air New Zealand has taken over recent years is a brilliant illustration of the impact design can have on a business. A commitment to the design process, led from the top down, has been instrumental in transforming the Air New Zealand experience for customers and employees across almost every touch point.

Like any transformation, it has taken time and work. Even though the airline’s successes have often come from world class design, that design excellence was still the exception rather than the norm. Individual business units and their agencies were able to design in isolation, using multiple identity systems, bespoke approaches and with little alignment to how their particular project fitted in to the wider customer experience.

That changed in 2014 with the adoption of a ‘one brand’ strategy, developed to bring design cohesion and strategic capability to Air New Zealand and its agency partners.

The first step was creating a simplified set of universal tools and frameworks. Central to this was a single organising idea, of liberating travellers from the ordinary, making travel easier and more enjoyable. This involved removing the pain points of air travel and replacing them with moments of empathy, seamlessness, innovation and delight.

The brand’s identity system was also refreshed, a new brand architecture system established to cover over 50 sub-brands, and new brand expression pillars developed: Very Human, Be Stand Out, Passion for Detail. Particular focus was given to journey mapping the customer and employee experience, to gain real insight into how people engaged with Air New Zealand at every point.

Over the next three years these tools and frameworks would be used to redesign almost every product, service and communication through the lens of both customer insight and what best defines a ‘liberating’ Air New Zealand experience.

Seamless customer experiences were created including the coffee app, Elite Priority One, Airband™ and Oscar the Chatbot. Key existing experiences were also improved including Inflight entertainment and a $100m dollar Lounge refurbishment programme began. The airline 75th birthday become an opportunity to create an award winning exhibitions at Te Papa, Auckland War Memorial and Canterbury Museums. The employee experience was also rethought and redesigned.

Taking a deeper more strategic view of design and its role in shaping the airline has quickly shown its worth, and set a world class platform for the future. In 2017 Air New Zealand announced its second-highest earning result ever, and holds the number one spot in Colmar Brunton’s Corporate Reputation Index and in AMR’s 2017 Corporate Reputation Index in both New Zealand and Australia.

In awarding the Best Effect Purple Pin to Air New Zealand, the judges noted that the airline has evolved into a showcase for design, never shying away from the long journey required to create a truly design-led culture. They saluted the airline for being a company that has innovated its way to success over the last 16 years, and gave due respect for the commitment shown by three consecutive CEOs and the Air New Zealand board for believing that Kiwi culture could be a true differentiator on the global stage.

Easterbrook Words & Ideas
-Mark Easterbrook