Branding is fun to experience, particularly when done well. And I will admit, I was pretty sucked into the Aloha mentality by the successful expression of the Hawaiian Airlines brand.
As soon as you walk onto a Hawaiian Airlines plane, you are greeted by the relaxing, transporting sounds of native birds, the ukulele, and the Pacific Ocean. It’s almost as if you have already arrived. Forget that you were just felt up by a 300-pound security agent, or that someone got on the moving walkway to just stand there while you were racing to your flight. The flight attendants greet you with, “Aloha!” and “Mahalo.” You’re welcome, Hawaiian Airlines attendant; you’re welcome.
The video playing on my little personal screen includes hula dancers, beach views, and pictures of happy people loving their vacations. You’re so close, you can feel the sand in your toes!
Next stop is the security video, where attractive men and women of what surely must be the world’s most attractive flight crew tell you how to fasten your seatbelt in the nicest possible way. It reminded me of my first trip to Hawaii with my parents a mere 12 years ago, when we just couldn’t get over how nice everyone was. We had a running joke of the constantly cheery Hawaiian, “Oh, you just hit me with your car — Mahalo!” This is more like, “In the event of a crash, you’re in the middle of a giant ocean, so your chances at survival are slim. Aloha!” I wonder if, as the plane descended to its watery demise, the acoustic ukulele version of “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” would be playing in my head.
After we get oriented, and I delight in discovering that I may now use my electronic device whenever I want (first flight since they changed that rule – Mahalo!), we receive a small breakfast. But instead of bread and some kind of gross egg thing, it’s fruit, fruit juice, and a Macadamia nut candy. Macadamia nut candy and Hawaii are so synonymous for me now (read: really well marketed) that I’m pretty sure the candies actually grow on trees as they are, no need for processing.
Top that all off with Kona Longboard beer and Kona coffee, and you have happy customers and a pretty pleasant flight that would otherwise be, well, a 5 hour flight. A well-executed brand experience here reminds you that vacation starts as soon as you get through the boarding process. In my case, even though I will only be in Honolulu for an hour en route to other slightly more exotic destinations, I’m firmly ensconced in the Aloha spirit. The only thing I’d add for that fun festive flavor is a lei. Plus, then your passengers could start making “We just got lei’d” jokes that much sooner.
Mahalo, Hawaiian Airlines!