Awareness Soaring, Malaysia Airlines Vows to #StayStrong and Not Rebrand

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Although Malaysia Airlines had two major crashes that made global news last year, there is no rebranding under way. In fact, the carrier’s brand recognition has never been stronger. But how to leverage that is a delicate balance.

“Name recognition is now in the range of Coke and Pepsi,” Dean Dacko, the airline’s head of marketing, told Mumbrella. “That kind of awareness takes decades and billions of dollars in investment to build. To abandon that, from a commercial marketing perspective, would be a tragically bad mistake to make.”

The phrase “tragically bad mistake” might be one the marketing department would prefer to avoid altogether, considering the airline lost 510 passengers and 27 crew members a year ago. Still, the numbers do support Dacko’s claim. Brand awareness, which was in the low single digits before the crashes, has now reached 86 percent.[more]

Dacko also pointed out that the airline, which today tweeted its sympathy to Lufthansa Airlines in the wake of the Germanwings crash in the French Alps, would be letting down all the supporters who told it to “Fly High” and “Stay Strong” after its tragedies. A rebrand would not be “honoring that message,” Dacko told Mumbrella.

The message that the airline needs to send, Dacko conceded, is that it is taking steps to make itself safer, and doing so in a meaningful way that will regain the trust of the public. “This won’t be about cheap flights to Bali,” he said. “It will be about images and content that remind people we’re still strong and healthy, and we’re moving forward.”

Perhaps to help offset travelers’ wariness toward Malaysia Air, the Malaysian government just unveiled a new airline, flymojo, adding to the six carriers that already fill the nation’ skies: MASwings, Malaysia Airlines, Firefly, Malindo Air, Rayani Air and AirAsia—which had its own accident late last year that killed 155 passengers and seven crew members.

Those incidents are going to linger over the Malaysian air industry for years to come, in many different forms. The most recent manifestation is the public outcry of an Australian mother whose son died on Malaysian Air flight MH17. She was upset when the airline asked to see her tax records, pay slips and mortgage payment info, according to the Daily Mail.

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