Air France launches Joon – An airline built on brand strategy

Airline branding

Much more than brand spin – hopefully.

Air France have announced to launch of Joon, an airline positioned for the European Millenial market. So what does that mean exactly and why should we believe this is more than just another low-cost airline brand entering the already crowded and undifferentiated low-cost market?

Reading between the lines of the press release, it appears Joon is a brand built upon a clear purpose. In their own words, Joon is ‘designed for today’s generation: spontaneous, keen on new experiences and absolutely digital. An impromptu city break or a fun roadtrip halfway around the world? A co-working session only 2 hours away from Paris, or a sunny getaway? JOON knows how to please those for whom travel is part of their everyday life.’

Joon isn’t the first brand to position itself as being more than just an airline. In the vernacular of the ‘lifestyle brand’ Joon claims to provide ‘a complete, innovative and offbeat experience to those who believe travel extends beyond the aircraft.’

A boldly customer-centric brand strategy.

In just about any other category my professional cynicism would amount to straight-up disbelief that the brand experience will ever match the brand promise, but in this case I’ve parked my raised eyebrow. What interests me about Joon is that the proposition just makes so much brand sense. In a category filled with serious, full-fare national carriers and zany, discount carriers, the potential for an airline brand with a value proposition built around the way a new generation think, breathe, buy and travel is significant. I respect that Joon are boldly positioning themselves as not a budget airline. If they can deliver on what they are promising in their brand story, they may signal a new, customer oriented disruption of the airline category.

We love a brand with the courage to focus every aspect from product to design on a core audience. In a category that seeks to appeal to everyone and anyone who can afford a seat, this approach is refreshing, but not without risk. Our experience has been that even the strongest, most focused brand strategies can crumble quickly if sales fall short of required targets. We hope Air France stays the course and backs this concept through an extended and extensive proof of concept process. Failure of the concept will be horrendously expensive, but success could change the way people travel in the same way that Apple’s iPod and mp3 formatted music changed the way people purchased and listened to music.

airline branding agency

brand naming
A quick Google of Joon turns-up this definition on Urban Dictionary. Short, punchy and international, the name Joon is designed to address a worldwide audience.

“We started with our target customer segment, the millennials, to create this new brand that means something to them. Our brief was simple: to find a name to illustrate a positive state of mind. This generation has inspired us a lot: epicurean and connected, they are opportunistic in a positive sense of the word as they know how to enjoy every moment and are in search of quality experiences that they want to share with others. Joon is a brand that carries these values”, said Caroline Fontaine, VP Brand at Air France.

“With Joon, we have created a young and connected brand that will give the Group a new impetus. Designed for our millennial customers, it will offer more than just a flight and a fare, it will offer a global travel experience. We’ll provide a further update in September, with more details on the brand’s content, products, services, destinations and range of fares!” said Dominique Wood, EVP Brand and Communications at Air France.

Joon’s visual identity is based on an electric blue colour code symbolizing the airline’s dynamic attitude, as well as the sky, space and travel. The uniform of Joon’s flight attendants will be inspired by the new fashion codes, basic and chic, reflecting the design aesthetic of their core customer.

The dimension of the brand I find puzzling is the quality of the brand imagery designed and distributed for the launch. From the aircraft renderings to the uniform design and secondary visual language, the brand looks and feels like the discount carrier they are promising not to be. We know too well that brands only get one chance to make a first impression, and with the amount of time, energy, passion and budget that will need to be invested to launch Joon, the underwhelming brand identity design has not done them any favours. Joon’s launch was the first and most critical opportunity to capture the imagination of their market, connect with their potential audience and create the level of buzz the concept deserves. Unfortunately for them and the success of this bold brand, the quality of the design, renderings and launch video have let the side down.

Dave Ansett
David is the founder of Truly Deeply, a brand agency with 25 years experience working with brands to position them for growth. His deep expertise is in the creation of high engagement brands that attract the attention of their audience and stand out from their competitors. David has extensive experience working with corporate, retail, food & beverage and entrepreneurial clients. Find out more here
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Pics courtesy Air France and Joon.

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