A clear destination ahead.

We are always looking to share new insights and fresh ideas with you around branding. And for us, one of our greatest sources of inspiration is our clients.

Across a diverse range of organisations, we’re privileged to work with some extremely talented and experienced marketeers, like Kevin Cullinane who is the Head of Communications at Cork Airport.

Below we talked to him about his experience of developing the new ‘love taking off’ campaign with us. And his advice for fellow marketeers considering embarking on a similar brand repositioning project…

Cork Airport logo

What made you decide your brand needed a refresh?

For us it was a very straightforward strategic decision. It wasn’t because we got bored with our current branding. Or didn’t like it. The decision was driven by business performance.

We are a very data driven company with clear KPI targets and we were falling short of one. We weren’t making the gains we needed in our market share. While we were growing, we weren’t keeping pace with what was happening in the market.

It was obvious that we needed to take a fresh look at our brand and our creatives to make them work harder for us. We needed to get people to reappraise Cork Airport and to be more disruptive.

What was the first step on the journey?

Once we’d decided we needed a new approach, we began the process of putting the project out for tender. And the first step meant us getting absolute clarity internally on what we were looking for.

There’s an old adage…

“If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there”

Before going to market, you must have clarity on your ultimate destination. You need clear objectives and a clear strategy – which we had. I think it’s essential you put these fundamental building blocks in place first.

It’s a process you must go through. You have to know where you are trying to go and what you want to achieve to be able to develop an effective brief, a request for tender and to be able to objectively evaluate the applicants.

With this project, we were within the thresholds to opt for a selective tender process. This involved an extra step of desk research and due diligence as we shortlisted agencies to invite to tender.

We looked at creative executions we liked, like the Waterford Greenway, and organisations who’d recently gone through impactful brand repositioning, like Cork Chamber – both of whom highly recommended TOTEM as an agency.

Because we were able to objectively assess everyone against our tender criteria and had clarity on what we were looking for someone to deliver, in the end the final decision to appoint TOTEM was a straight forward one.

What was the agency induction process like fo you?

The first thing we did, before getting into the project in detail was have a brand essence workshop with TOTEM. It was a day away from the office that really helped us get the project and our relationship off on the right foot.

It gave us the opportunity to go right back to first principles. We were fortunate that we’d done a lot of the heavy lifting a few years ago where we’d gone right back to basics on the brand personality and brand architecture.

This workshop helped validate that work that had gone before but what was really helpful was to be able to identify the opportunities to enhance it. And also, where the brand was not really connecting with our target audience any more.

As well as the emotional side, we were also able to tease through the rational side of the brand – the business issues and communication challenges that needed to be taken into consideration.

I think one of the things that is critical for any agency and client relationship is trust. People must feel comfortable being able to challenge each other’s thinking, whilst still being respectful.
The ability to master that is what creates a healthy creative spark. It is sometimes through gently challenging thinking and the brand truths that are taken for granted, that the real insights and opportunities are uncovered.

Was it difficult to select a final creative route and tagline?

No, it was surprisingly easy to choose the final creative route and the new ‘love taking off’ tagline. We knew from the workshop we wanted a subtle shift in brand archetype and to inject more personality into brand executions.

We needed to reignite the appeal of the brand and the connection customers across Munster have with it. And we wanted to generate a sense of excitement around the new destinations, to get people to reappraise the brand offering.

The tender document had ensured we had a clear brief and objectives and the workshop ensured we were all on the same page in regard to the brand strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities.

When TOTEM initially presented their concepts – ‘love taking off’ immediately resonated with us and was unanimously the creative route of choice for everyone internally.

And that wasn’t just based on subjective opinion and do ‘I like it’ – it hit the brief. It was clearly the strongest option to deliver the business objectives we’d set out for the campaign.
The new tagline was a natural fit in terms of personality. It also had campaign-ability and the visual manifestation really resonated. It was the obvious direction that the brand should evolve in.
And as an advocate of three-word taglines, it also met the litmus test of being succinct and memorable. Something that’s been proven by the speed at which it’s naturally entered the vernacular.

Cork Airport billboard

What advice would you give to a marketeer looking at rebranding?

In my experience the most important thing is to be rigorous with the process. Trust the process and don’t skip steps. You’ll end up with much stronger outputs.
I’ve found when people don’t like something and you ask, ‘why not? What part of the brief did it miss?’, you often find there wasn’t a brief in the first place. I think writing one is critical – it ensures you clearly define your audience and the problem you are trying to solve and what the outputs are expected to deliver on.

This empowers you to base your decisions and your feedback on brand truths and consumer insights – not subjective personal opinions.

You can find out more about our work for Cork Airport and their ‘Love taking off’ repositioning campaign here.