11 February 2023
Is KLIA’s proposed new name unique, distinctive, memorable, authentic, and enduring?
From Ibrahim M Ahmad
Transport minister Loke Siew Fook is generally regarded as one of the better-performing ministers in Cabinet, so his announcement about an upcoming rebranding exercise involving the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) turned out to be quite a disappointment.
To be fair, his was nothing more than a general statement to the effect that the Cabinet has agreed in principle to “rebrand” KLIA and klia2 into “KLIA Terminal 1” and “KLIA Terminal 2”, respectively.
Loke explained: “The proposal to rebrand KLIA and klia2 is important for the commercial sustainability of KLIA and also the growth of airports throughout the country.”
Fair enough. In that statement, the minister outlined the purpose of the intended exercise, which was to ensure the airport’s commercial sustainability.
Experts tell us that branding involves more than a change of name, but choosing a creative name goes a long way towards building an attractive brand.
An ideal brand name, they say, must be unique, distinctive, memorable, authentic, and enduring.
To some extent, KLIA achieved this when it first opened its doors to the skies back in 1998 by using a simple, crisp name that rolled off the tongue easily and avoided the usual linkage to prominent personalities complete with attendant honorifics.
The more recent “klia2” (stylishly set in lowercase) was a cute latter day variation of its big sister’s name.
Many years later, the world has changed quite dramatically, and a rebranding is warranted.
Yet, rebranding from “KLIA” and “klia2” to “KLIA Terminal 1” and “KLIA Terminal 2” is almost laughable as it exposes a lack of creativity.
How is the proposed new brand unique, distinctive, memorable, authentic, or enduring? How does the new name refresh the brand?
In fact, adding the word “Terminal” to the brand renders the name terminally flawed. In the context of air travel, “terminal” is such a dated reference. Is that the best we can do?
When Singapore reinvigorated her airport with an awesome new, 21st century feel recently, she called her “Jewel” – a name many will agree is as precious as the product and the experience.
How can we expect to be competitive with our uninspired brand name?
Ibrahim M Ahmad is an FMT reader.
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