Rehla Design

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Plane as Metaphor

We were heading to our first company retreat; excited to visit a new island — Turks and Caicos — and eager to map out our thoughts and vision for Rehla Design. It was probably that combined state of being relaxed while still ambitious that made me read deeply into otherwise mundane experiences.

 The flight was one such example.

Most of us have taken flights before. This was not my first flight but I was experiencing it through a brand new set of lenses. I was suddenly acutely aware (and impressed) by the engineering and operational miracle of planes.

At over 30,000 feet above ground, I realised that airplanes (and airlines) are the perfect metaphors to describe brand experiences.

Leadership: Every flight needs a set of well-trained technical crew. They lead the flight safely to its destination. Similarly, for a brand to reach its destination, there needs to be a band of leaders who share a common goal and vision.

Balance: The promise of an airplane's success is dependent on the safety it offers. While there are numerous elements of safety, the most crucial is an airplane's ability to remain balanced. An unbalanced brand, either visually or operationally, is unsettling. It leaves the user feeling short-changed and unfulfilled — a dangerous place to be in an oversaturated consumer market.

Layout: Regardless whether you are boarding a budget or a luxury liner, an aircraft’s layout is always designed to maximize efficiency around their key offering — a seat. The most successful brands are those that efficiently deliver on their vision without getting distracted by other competing elements. What is the one thing that makes a brand great? Find it and relentlessly work on perfecting it.

Strong teams: The cabin and technical crew on every flight are compelled to work together to ensure meals are served, washrooms are neat, walkways are clear and safety procedures are adhered to. No one can do the job alone but certainly, some do it better than others. Every brand is composed of multiple facets. Each component needs to be addressed and communicated to perfection to ensure that the whole experience is seamless.

Visuals: All airlines have an image or a set of images by which we recognise them. It is the most recognisable symbol of an airline, just as a logo would be to any brand. However the visuals need to always be premised on the core purpose of the airline. Domestic carrier, national carrier, trade carrier, etc. As the airline industry expanded, differentiation became essential and some of the better airlines have harnessed this power of strong value proposition based values to gain success.

Plenty of brands create their visuals isolated from the core competency of the brand. The disconnect is palpable. A brand’s visual offerings is a vehicle for its journey. Just like how one would not drive a limousine into the desert, brands need to map out their journey before determining its visual directive.

What are some brands that feel like a seamless flight experience?