Merging two storied flag carriers to create the premier
pan-Latin American airline
When Latin American air carriers Avianca and TACA merged in 2009, they turned to Lippincott for guidance on how best to manage the merger for growth. What followed was a 3-year journey to unify the two brands with a shared vision, culture and harmonized customer experience, and then to unveil a new world-class brand through a bold visual identity. The result is a unified Avianca – over 15,000 employees delivering “Latin Excellence” in service and style to more than 100 destinations in the Americas and Europe.
In 2009, Avianca, the flag carrier of Colombia and the oldest continuously operating airline in the Western Hemisphere, and TACA, the leading airline in Central American, embarked on an ambitious merger and brand transformation. Based on the aspiration to be the best Latin American airline, Lippincott counseled that a singular brand with a harmonized customer experience would be the most rewarding, albeit challenging, path forward. And not until those elements were aligned should the new brand be revealed.
World-class brand benchmarking, cross-functional employee work-sessions and in-depth customer ethnographies provided the foundation for the brand strategy. As part of the research, Lippincott uncovered a customer growth segment – the "Latino Moderno" – whom the airline would seek to attract in addition to its traditional customers. The “Latino Moderno” is a sophisticated, stylish and tech-savvy frequent flyer accustomed to and willing to pay for a distinct experience.
A shared vision, mission and set of values were developed along with a proprietary customer experience map, which would become the guide for unifying and upgrading the entire passenger experience. This included the union of key touch points across airlines, branding for “LifeMiles,” the frequent flyer program, a new focus on service and a common purpose of delivering “Latin Excellence” to passengers around the world.
Based on the rich heritage already associated with the name Avianca in key Latin American markets, Lippincott also recommended adopting the single brand name Avianca. To activate the brand verbally, we developed brand messaging, positioning, tone of voice and brand sponsorship guidelines, as well as communications strategies and tools.
In creating the visual identity it was important to reflect the heritage and legacy of both Avianca and TACA but also signal that this is a new, pan-Latin American Avianca. This work included a new logo, brand architecture system, livery and visual system. The new identity was built on the symbolic power of the Condor, a symbol long associated with Avianca but now in a modern form that figuratively links South, Central and North America. Additional design elements included aircraft interiors, various mood lighting schemes and other experiential details that brought the new brand life.
Finally, Lippincott advised on the launch strategy, underpinned by the plan to take the time to align internal culture and external customer experience first before the new brand was revealed to the world.
The merged airline debuted on the Colombian stock market in 2011 to unprecedented results. Today, Avianca serves nearly 18 million passengers, generates $3 billion USD in revenue and reaches more than 100 destinations in Latin America, North America and Europe. A vital part of the Star Alliance, Avianca operates 140 aircraft and counts 4 million customers as part of its LifeMiles loyalty program.
As of the official mainline brand launch (which took place in the spring of 2013), Avianca reported a record 9.7% jump in passenger demand over the first two months of the year.
“In Lippincott we found a true, trusted advisor who partnered with us on this complex journey. Beyond developing an inspired new identity, they helped us identify new customer targets, harmonize the overall passenger experience and counsel us on when it was the right time to launch.”
Fabio Villegas, CEO, Avianca