MILAN – Families with children had the opportunity to try leather seats equipped with satellite television, video-on-demand, MP3 files, and video games. A healthy cuisine was dedicated to visitors who could sit alongside fuselage windows featuring moving clouds that replicated the flying experience (Casalino, 2004).
They were called “Song in the City”, a kind of shop etched in the memory of a few, set up only for a period of 9 weeks in Downtown Manhattan and in Boston to promote the newborn Song.
The subsidiary of Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines, Song, is a timeless example of a poor branding strategy.
In March 2002, Delta was still facing repercussions from 9/11, including a decline in the demand for air travel, rising fuel costs, and industry layoffs. In the worst period of the industry before COVID-19, the advent of budget airlines was added.
In particular, the entry of Allegiant, Frontier, and JetBlue into the U.S. domestic market, led the giant Delta, which was feeling threatened even in its fortress (Hartsfield–Jackson), to think of a new competitive strategy.
The legacy airline strived to halt the expansion of low-cost airlines as early as 1996 with the no-frills Delta Express, based out of Orlando International Airport. But in 2003 Delta decided to create a budget airline that was in total discontinuity with the parent company.
Song was a name not occupied by any other airline but because, in fact, it didn’t refer to an airline, and this is a marginal issue. There are many companies around the world with a name that doesn’t contain the product (i.e., Apple and Barilla) but they keep a formidable marketing strategy.
If marketing misses the mark, the brand durability becomes a mirage.
As expected, Song’s strategy turned out to be wrong because it never delivered a brand promise, consisting of three essential elements: one’s own strengths, the customer’s desire, and the competitor’s strengths. Let’s imagine these three points as intersected circles.