An interview with Holger Hätty, Chief Commercial Officer of Swiss International Air Lines
Mr. Hätty, SWISS is currently doing very well. Why the need to sharpen the current brand profile? And why now?
Past successes count for very little in today’s competitive environment, and we can’t afford to get complacent. We need to lay the foundations today for the successes of tomorrow. And it was with this aim in mind that our Board of Directors and our Management Board took a long and careful look at our present business strategy to determine if it was still optimally suited to our aspiration of being and remaining Europe’s leading airline. We came to the conclusion that the course we are currently pursuing is indeed the right one. So in this sense, we are not repositioning SWISS; but we have decided to pursue our present path with an even clearer focus and even greater resolve.
While many of us have developed a strong affection for the present “cube” design, our new logo, which shows a SWISS tailfin with its Swiss-cross emblem, is much more clearly aligned to our positioning as the airline of Switzerland. And, together with a new advertising look, the new logo will enable us to be far more consistent and effective in communicating our “Airline of Switzerland” credentials. With the choice of the Swiss-cross tailfin, the new logo makes our Swiss roots and character abundantly clear – at first glance, even from afar and with no need to add our SWISS name. And that, we feel, is a major step forward.
What does this “step forward” mean for SWISS?
There are no two ways about it: our results are becoming increasingly influenced by external developments and events. Added to this, we have seen a steady increase in the competition we face over the past few years, and this will only intensify further in the years ahead.
We have every intention of keeping to the SWISS vision of being Europe’s leading airline in product and service quality and in profitability terms. But if we are to do so in the face of today’s ever-increasing mass of air travel service products, we must maintain a clearly-distinguished positioning in the market arena and the competitive environment, along with a stronger profile.
The key elements in SWISS’s profile and positioning are our credentials as the airline of Switzerland and our traditional Swiss values. These are what we strive to embody and convey in everything we do. We are genuine; we are close to our customers; and we are totally devoted to delivering optimum product and service quality.
Our personnel have already assimilated these values. What we now need to do is communicate them even more to our customers, so that we are seen and felt – for all the personal touches and character that we each bring to our work – as a single team with a shared and common purpose.
By doing so, getting even closer to our customers and offering them an even better-quality service, we can address a market segment that still offers sizeable potential; and we can appeal to a genuine present-day need in a world that is becoming increasingly impersonal, anonymous and hard to comprehend.
The Swiss cross, which our brand will now be incorporating even more, stands for our commitment to delivering consistently high quality – Swiss quality, in other words. If our standards ever fall below this, we won’t just be missing a major market opportunity; we won’t remain successful in the longer run. In short, then, we want to make SWISS even “Swisser”.
And what will this involve?
Our new brand concept extends to a bold and distinctive new advertising look that will be focused on our aircraft, and on their Swiss-cross tailfins in particular. Our aim here is to create a truly individual profile that will enable our advertising – and thus our company and its products – to stand out in the market and the competitive environment.
The new logo, which will be better aligned to our strengthened market positioning and our sharpened brand profile, will be gradually adopted from October onwards. In design terms, the new look will mean hardly any changes to our aircraft’s current livery, since the new logo has been derived directly from our existing tail design. All that will be needed for our aircraft fleet is a slight modification to the overall colour scheme.
The new concept will be rounded off by a new claim, too, in which we have distilled our quality aspirations and our commitment to our customers into a few simple words: “Our sign is a promise”. We’ll be using this claim in our advertising, in combination with the new logo.
And how will all this be put into practice in concrete terms?
We’ll be adopting a three-step approach. The first is preparing our new internal and external look, which will be rolled out from October onwards. This will include a new advertising campaign and a new look for our various communications channels, such as the SWISS website. In Phase Two, from December onwards, we’ll extend the new look to our airports in Switzerland.
In Phase Three, in the New Year, we’ll be gradually spreading the new look and logo to our other airports and locations worldwide. This will, incidentally, also include those parts of our company that don’t deal directly with our passengers, such as Swiss WorldCargo. The whole process is likely to take several months. And 2012 will also see the new look and layout extended to other media and communications tools.
Dr. Holger Hätty: a brief résumé
Holger Hätty, who is 53 years old, has been Chief Commercial Officer and a member of the Management Board of Swiss International Air Lines Ltd. since 1 July 2009. In this capacity he is in charge of all SWISS’s marketing, product and sales affairs.
Holger Hätty began his professional career as a project manager at Roland Berger & Partner, Munich, before moving to Sixt AG, Munich to become Head of Marketing in 1992. Three years later he joined Lufthansa German Airlines in Frankfurt as Head of Product Management. In 1999 he became Head of Group Strategy; and four year later he was appointed to the Executive Board of Lufthansa Passenger Airlines, before joining SWISS in 2009.
Holger Hätty is a member of the Board of Directors of bmi British Midland plc and a member of the Executive Board of Germany’s Committee on Eastern European Economic Relations. He holds a diploma in commerce and a doctorate from the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg (Germany), and has completed a senior management programme at the Harvard Business School, Boston (USA).
He is married and has four children.