The FAA has cleared Delta to operate Northwest Airlines as a single carrier with its namesake service, according to ABC News. Having acquired Northwest for $2.6 billion in stock last October, Delta has spent the past year combining various aspects of the two companies, which now make Delta the largest operating airline in the world.
With the newly received operating license, Delta can complete its re-branding of Northwest Airlines. Delta hopes to have Northwest fully transitioned in the first quarter of 2010, renaming planes, gates and the like. Yet Northwest employees had already begun wearing their new Delta uniforms, and customers of Northwest can already use their frequent flier miles to be applied to Delta’s SkyMiles rewards program.
In an era where companies are faltering, merging out of necessity, or using the current economy as an opportunity for re-branding, a corporation’s ability to implement various tasks in a reasonable amount of time can be key to a brand’s ongoing success. Change is often difficult for the brands and consumers alike. This is because the relationship built between a company and its consumer base becomes codependent in some manners, making future changes an often slow and painful process.
Dealing with negative press can have its long-term effects on a brand, which can be particularly vulnerable in a time of transition. Such is the case with Delta, as it’s receiving of its new operating license comes days after the airline stood to face harsh criticism after a terrorist attack was attempted on a Northwest flight Christmas morning.
The negative situation and subsequent bad press during a time of transition can invariably spur a company to action, hoping to resolve any issues before customers begin to lose faith in a brand. For Delta, the FAA approval of the unified operating license can help the airline to relieve some of the stress caused by any negative press.
For consumers, this means the decision to abandon a brand all together may have been saved. A consumer’s decision to use one product or another is a necessary factor in the ongoing existence of our economy, meaning Delta should be rather aware of how consumers feel about its brand at this particular point in time.
Social media can still offer a powerful tool for Delta to handle consumer feedback, whether good or bad, during its continued time of transition. For the most part, Delta has had early interest in the possibilities offered by the ways of social media, being among the first large corporations to begin blogging. Additionally, as mobile phones become more like our personal assistants, Delta has increased opportunities to leverage new and social technology for re-branding purposes.