Image: British Airways

APEX Insight: From towers to cafés, airlines are finding unconventional ways to leave their mark landside.   

Thanks to British Airways, residents of Brighton now have access to soaring views of the English seaside town’s pier and regency-era rooftops. But the views are not offered from an airplane. Opened earlier this year, just in time for Brighton’s bustling August tourist season, the more than 530-foot-tall British Airways i360 treats visitors to sky-high panoramas from the world’s most slender and tallest moving observation tower, designed by the architects of the iconic London Eye.

“Our pilots enjoy spectacular views of the Sussex coastline as they fly in and out of Gatwick, and now Brighton visitors and residents will also be able to from this fantastic new landmark,” explains Lynne Embleton, British Airways’ director of Strategy and managing director for Gatwick. For British Airways, the tower lends the airline’s brand to a tourist landmark near Gatwick Airport, from where it flies to 67 destinations worldwide.

“Brands can greatly benefit through smart, well-chosen associations or partnerships,” says Peter Knapp, chief creative officer for brand consulting firm Landor, in an article he penned for the Huffington Post. “The [British Airways i360] partnership works because it brings something new to British Airways’ current brand story, adding the fun factor to a sector which often lacks emotional attachment for consumers, with too much emphasis on the functional.”

“Brands can greatly benefit through smart, well-chosen associations or partnerships.” — Peter Knapp, Landor

In a different part of the world, Bangkok-based low-cost carrier Nok Air is brewing up its own way to cement its airborne reputation with prospective customers. Popular for its colorful and cartoonish brand antics, the airline hopes to land its Nok Sky Café in-flight product on the ground.

“What we’re trying to do is bring the cafés on the ground so there’s day-to-day touchpoints with our customers and Nok Air,” says the airline’s CEO, Patee Sarasin. The airline plans to open cafés in all the countries it flies to, in both airports and urban settings. “The key element is to make sure that people have opportunities to reach our brand outside of the in-flight experience. There will be a close association of the products and services, except that one will be in the air and one will be on the ground.”

Neither of these airlines is the first to fly its brand terrestrially. EasyJet has vastly spread its “easy” brand from jets to easy cars, buses, hotels, food stores, gyms and even real estate. And with an inverted trajectory, Virgin famously turned its record shop brand into a multibillion dollar brand-boosted conglomerate.

“Airlines and Landmarks” was originally published in the 6.5 December/January issue of APEX Experience magazine.

Katie is a writer for APEX Media, based in Toronto, Ontario.