South African Airways is not only the flag carrier for the country but represents the continent across the world. Through the deliberate design of every touchpoint we have been able to get customers to re-assess their view of Africa as a lost continent to one of premium experiences and warm hospitality.
One of the oldest airlines in the world, South African Airways (SAA) is a consolidated airline group operating in a highly competitive global market, but also domestically and regionally. Over the years, the brand has grown into a 4 star-rated carrier, flying to 38 destinations worldwide using a fleet of 54 aircraft. It is a carrier for Africa, serving 26 destinations across the continent, as well as being South Africa’s national carrier.
Our brief was to refresh the brand. It was time to stop being just an extension of the South African tourism industry and become a globally relevant and more importantly a proudly African brand. The challenge was to create a more relevant, premium brand experience for the entire range of SAA customers and stakeholders and do this without being clichéd, or alienating anyone.
What we did
From our research, we established that SAA is positioned to be one of the only truly African brands that can have a global footprint, and effectively challenge how people see our continent. We felt that SAA could own a new category of luxury: African Luxury. In order to do this we created a brand revitalisation strategy that positions SAA as a catalyst for African growth. To bring this to life, we refreshed their visual identity, re-contextualised their existing brand assets and added a more luxurious colour pallet and photographic style. We have begun to roll out this new look and feel across multiple touch-points (for both staff and customers) including events, airport signage and the A320 fleet.
SAA is currently and historically the only African airline to be classified with the prestigious 4-star airline ranking from Skytrax. Working closely with the SAA team on a new airport way finding system and experience-mapping project, we managed to help retain their ratings as well as improve certain Skytrax criteria in 2012. This was a big success story at SAA as it meant that they retained their status as best airline in Africa.
The interiors of the new A320 fleet are a great example of how we have moved the SAA brand language beyond just a visual identity but into a more sensory experience for the customer. The fleet embodies a new type of African luxury that will differentiate SAA over the coming years while remaining timeless and sustainable.