When we met with Remo Masala, director of corporate branding and marketing at Kuoni Travel, he was leading the 102-year old company through its most major rebranding to date. Sitting down in Masala’s ‘future lab’ – a funky office in the middle of Zurich, the hometown of Kuoni – he took us through the 12 month process which has not only resulted in a distinctive new identity for Kuoni’s, but has also changed the way the travel industry views branding and luxury.
The next level
Travel has changed a lot in recent years – and will change even more in the future. While Kuoni, the number four travel company in the world, has long been a market leader in travel, all at the firm realised that the company needed to change if it was to enter the next level of travel business. “In order to maintain in the long run Kuoni’s status as the world‘s leading travel company in the premium segment, we knew we had to do something rather radical“, Remo said. “The task was to reposition
the brand from product orientation to customer orientation. We decided to get back to our roots by focusing also on the most discerning travellers and provide services that go far beyond conventional travels. It was about new product lines, new fields of behaviour and new cooperations.”
Global branding power
But the brand was also in need of updating in another, basic aspect. Kuoni operated in 30 different countries, but had little uniformity in its branding across its various markets. It even had two different logos. The challenge, therefore, was to mould Kuoni into one distinctive brand speaking one language worldwide. “The goal is building global branding power”, Remo said.
Thinking outside the box
For Remo, brand management is about three basic steps:
1. Define the promise – brand strategy,
2. Deliver the promise – brand engagement,
3. Communicate the promise – brand design.
Remo oversaw an extensive and innovative research program, targeting people within the company, and, more importantly, people outside Kuoni. While speaking to company employees and potential customers is all pretty standard in the field of market research, Kuoni broke the mould by going to speak to creatives and thinkers from different fields as well as to companies it believes best represent the values it respects, such as innovation. Kuoni founded the ‘Future Lab’ in order to find the developments, themes and moods that really shape our time – at present and in the
future. And from there to create the new Kuoni. Moreover, Remo organised joint workshops between Kuoni and people from other innovative global brands, where innovation is the key driver. “These were very interesting sessions, for all parties, since they usually don’t mix with non-industry brands,” he said.
After both internal and external research had been wrapped up, the following brand values emerged: reliability, authenticity and passion. These values surround the core value for Kuoni: Perfect Moments. Kuoni therefore represents stable, timeless values such as reliability and the highest possible quality, which have coined the company for over a hundred years. On the other hand Kuoni stands for authentic, intense experiences while travelling, for innovation, creativity and passion. However, the core value deliberately does not highlight any single aspect of Kuoni but rather the subjective, individual experience of each and every client. This way the core value – perfect moments – will keep its relevance also in the future and under a changing environment.
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