Provenance is Destiny - Market Research, Strategy & Positioning
How does a regional airline with strong brand love move to own the sky? By building on what made them great.
In addition to being one of America’s leading independent airlines serving more than 100 cities across North America, Alaska Air Group has always been an innovator in the hospitality sector. They were the first airline to install check in kiosks, one of the first to offer wifi on board, and an industry leader in home to gate (not just curb to gate!) service, thanks to their early uptake of apps and supportive online technologies. But most potential hires didn’t recognize that; they just knew Alaska employees for being so darn nice.
And Alaska is nice. But it was also on the cusp of an exciting new era. Expansion was on the horizon, and with a consumer brand refresh already in the works. Alaska needed an updated employer brand to help attract top, innovative talent while maintaining its industry leading reputation for excellent, personable service. Positioning needed to accommodate a number of dichotomies: Alaska’s simultaneous commitment to top-tier service (as a member of the hospitality sector) and its precision, pragmatic side (as a member of the highly-regulated transportation sector); a company that serves the small, rural communities of its home region and an increasing number of metropolises farther afield–and feels at home in both. Positioning would need to highlight those distinct attributes that set Alaska apart from an ambitious set of competitors for talent, and would address not only flight crew, but also ground crew and support services ranging from equipment maintenance technicians to software engineers, customer service representatives to baggage handlers.
And the campaign around the positioning would need to fit hand in glove with the consumer brand campaign.
To accomplish this, Alaska selected Evviva to develop its employer brand positioning and strategy, and partner with its consumer brand agency to achieve perfect alignment in creative expression.
Evviva conducted a comprehensive insight process taking into account multiple internal and external perspectives on employment in this highly regulated industry. Insight exercises ranged from in depth interviews with pilots – male and female – to site visits and observations in across Alaska, Washington state, Oregon, California, and Idaho, as well as focus group discussion with Alaska Air Group employees covering a breadth of roles spanning the organization—and with employees from competitor companies in similar roles. We also evaluated top competitors for talent, comparing online messaging and social media strategies with Alaska’s, to identify strategic challenges and opportunities.
Based on these insights, we developed a gallery of differentiating employer brand attributes. We then developed this gallery into an employer brand framework showing ranked equites and messages by employment group, brand and location. This brand architecture enabled alignment between the newly-launched consumer brand and the EVP and message structure we developed. Maintaining a close and effective partnership with the consumer brand agency, both agencies–and Alaska–were delighted with the results of our collaboration.
In addition to a new EVP, we created an accessible style guide for use by in house Alaska employees and external agencies to help keep all internal and external talent communications on brand. We also developed a comprehensive social media strategy to help Alaska increase and refine its recruitment and retention efforts, and reap more benefits from its social engagement.