Back in late 2017, London City Airport went through a new branding exercise that introduced a softer, lifestyle approach stripping away its hard-faced business image that reflected the city worker demographic looking to hop to and from Europe, New York and the rest of the UK.

Brought to life by The Allotment, the new brand strategy was perfectly timed to coincide with the burgeoning leisure routes. Pre-COVID you were just as likely to be headed to the Greek Islands or Ibiza as much as Rotterdam or Milan. In a bid to grow pride and affection for London City Airport, fresher, vibrant colour palettes, more dynamic and playful imagery and type use were deployed to create a sense of warmth.

“We saw something different and more meaningful for London City Airport. With the brave support of London City Airport’s leadership team we created a new brand for the airport that celebrated the vibrancy of modern London and reflects the love that both passengers and employees have for the airport,” states James Backhurst, Co-Founder and Creative Director for The Allotment.

Working with the leadership team at London City Airport the studio developed a research programme to understand the personality of the airport, its challenges and story of transformation. Interestingly, the Airport staff – many of which were locals – felt a genuine affection for the airport and were rightly proud of the warm service they provided, often against a challenging backdrop of infrastructure, resource and regulatory constraints.

The new logo encapsulates the idea that London City Airport is ‘at the heart of London’ and is a gateway to great experiences in London and for Londoners to see the world. Using a clever typographic layout of the ‘London’ logotype, The Allotment created a central ‘O’ device. This would become a bold and recognisable logo over time and would be used as an interactive window to amazing experiences and destinations. The possibilities for the logo across digital, moving image and print are endless.

Interestingly, the brand logo also became the core of the advertising campaigns over the past few years, which featured leisure-like imagery. It’s this imagery that might have been a part-stroke of genius and part-stroke of luck which will help cement London City Airport as a preferential departure point once COVID starts to abate.

While the airport had always been reliant on business travellers, its clear that this demographic will be badly hit post pandemic, as new ways of working are more accepting of remote work and video conferencing rather than face-to-face meetings. That combined with Brexit naturally reducing the deep-rooted connections to other European cities means that London City needs to be just as reliant on leisure traffic as it does European city pairs. We’ve already see BA drop it’s unique LCY-JFK connection.

It is still a few years until London City Airport’s vision is fully realised, by way of a new terminal and infrastructure, so it is vital that brand investment continues as there will be a future beyond the pandemic. Surely London City Airport’s recovery will be faster and more sustainable with the brand platform they have created in 2019/20 and its clear, like Heathrow, Luton and Gatwick, these four major airports have created a clear concise brand position that’s different to its rivals.

“Along with the design of our new airport, our new brand identity will help us reflect everything that is great about London, celebrate its preeminent position as a truly international city, broaden our appeal to different types of passengers and make the experience of London even better for those visiting the capital, for business or leisure,” says Robert Sinclair, CEO of London City Airport.

Interestingly, the branding hasn’t stopped there though. In a clear bid to appeal to the UHNW market, of which LCY is appealing due to its central location, the brand created a offshoot vertical for its Private Jet Centre. The Private Jet Centre is the only airport where executives, celebrities and high net worth individuals can land or fly from the very heart of the city from their own private lounge and aircraft. Exclusivity, efficiency and convenience are essential for the audience. With arrivals and departure processing taking just 90 seconds, it lives off of its efficiencies.

As such The Allotment created a slick premium look and feel, with every part of the brand focused on exceptional services, facilities and efficiency. “Premium services aren’t something you sell, they are something you can feel. Every aspect of the Private Jet Centre’s service is an opportunity to create a passenger-centric, highly efficient and exclusive experience.”

With a ‘At the heart of luxury flight’ proposition, The Allotment created a warm, indulgent and welcoming brand that feels exclusive. This brand requires clarity and cut-through for a time poor audience – using a little wit and lots of creativity the agency managed to connect the exceptional levels of service with private flight – together these create a suite of highly relevant and memorable images that form the main visual language of the brand communications.

It’s this clever approach to both UHNW and Leisure travellers that have sparked our interest, and is perhaps the only example of an airport’s repositioning that will already help it build brand preference in a post-COVID world. No doubt other airports across the world will perhaps take note, shaking off the corporate sterile imagery, instead opting for a familiar, warm, and friendly approach in a bid to lure more passengers through its doors.

The Big London City Picture

Posted by:Jonny Clark

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