Ryanair's CMO Is Right -- Brands Don't Need To Be Loved

Marketers always talk about fostering a brand image built on trust that hopefully leads to love and loyalty as smitten consumers become brand ambassadors, getting friends to start off on their own love affair journey with your products and services. 

It all makes perfectly good sense, right up to the point when you question it. Today in Marketing WeekRyanair's CMO, Kenny Jacobs, points out that you don't need to be loved to get on. To paraphrase the interview, the main thrust is that you need to be good at what you do and offer something people need at a price they're comfortable with. It's all about common sense.

It probably makes a lot of sense, doesn't it? Mind you, I would add a word of caution that this is coming from the airline that has put its Chief Executive, Michael O'Leary, on the back seat for a while. He used to pop up all over the place upsetting people and earning lots of headlines, but now tends to keep a much lower profile. Although, come to to think of it, maybe it underscores the point.

He was the one airline executive most people could name, for all the wrong reasons, and still the airline went from one success to another. There was talk of paying for toilets, charging large people extra and a refusal to apologise to rich people with villas who got annoyed when the airline changed routes. It's the airline that has one message: low fares. If you want to fly for less, it really is a toss up between Ryanair and easyJet, and experience has shown me that Ryanair tends to be the cheaper of the two. 

If most people had the choice they would go for BA and a Heathrow Terminal 5 flight, but they're the most expensive tickets and the routes and times don't always fit -- not quite as much as a Ryanair flight, anyway. So without any love for the brand, we all book our tickets.

A former colleague from the Sunday Times also has some wise words this morning in one of his regular columns for The Telegraph. While everyone is getting worked up about videos of people being "deplaned" (Delta is the latest brand under the spotlight here), the advice for brands is to just forget about social media storms in tea cups. Leave a bit of time for the uproar to pass over and another brand will be embarrassed. Only an ardent few will carry on campaigning against a particular brand once the story has moved on.

This applies to United just as it does VW. Despite "Dieselgate," sales of VW cars are on the up and we're also eating ready meals from supermarkets. An odd thing to say, you may think? But cast your mind back four years and you'll recall daily headlines about supermarkets inadvertently selling products that contained horse meat. It was a massive issue, but today, it seems like another world that has been long forgotten.

So, while nobody would say it's not a good thing to have a user base that thinks you're great -- certainly if they are loyal and bring in new adoring fans -- it's not the be all and end all.

The elephant in the room here is not that we all take flights with Ryanair although we have little affection for the brand or the experience it offers. No, it's the fact we probably booked those flights on Google Chrome after a search on Google or being tipped off about a sale on Facebook. These are two brands that come in for constant bashing over privacy, not removing extremist videos, not paying their fair share of tax and doing little to combat trolls. Yet here we are, all using these brands above all others, possibly on an Apple device -- another company that constantly courts controversy over working conditions, massive profits and low taxes.

The proof is right there. You don't need to be loved if you're offering something people need. It could be an amazing product or experience nobody else can match, as fans would say of Apple, or maybe you just compete on price, as Ryanair make a point of reminding us.

I hate to contradict The Beatles, but I think we can safely agree that love it not all you need -- not for a brand anyway.

1 comment about "Ryanair's CMO Is Right -- Brands Don't Need To Be Loved".
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  1. Daniel Soschin from Speaker & Blogger, May 9, 2017 at 12:53 p.m.

    People are upset about the deplaning becuase they feel it was very possible for it to happen to them or someone they know. Repatriation of currency being parked offshore by Google, or Facebook making something less private - people don't care about that stuff. Mainly because they don't understand it. They understand deplaning (sort of)... and that's why that recent incident is a major pivot point in the airline industry.

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