Ryanair show power of being proud

A common problem I come across is teams working on brands that they don’t love, or even like. But how can you have a hope in hell of persuading consumers to buy you and retailers to stock your brand if you are not personally engaged with what you are selling? And as I covered in a previous post, research has shown that pride is an important driver of growth in a business.

I saw this on a leading brand of dry cooking sauces. The marketing folk longed for the brand to be more aspirational; more like the brands they themselves consumed, such as Pret a Manger, Ben & Jerry’s and innocent. They weren’t proud of the brand. In fact, they were almost ashamed of it. When they came to work they hung up their real selves along with their coats, and went into work mode.

Well, Michael O’Leary, CEO of budget airline Ryanair, has no such qualms based on the recent interview in Brand Strategy. He’s proud as hell about his brand. OK, Ryanair is far from the most glamorous of brands to work on. But boy is it successful. It now has a market capiltalisation bigger than British Airways and has twice their traffic, with one million passengers a week. What can we learn from Ryanair?

Be crystal clear about your offer
No doubt about that with
Ryanair: "Lowest price flights, guaranteed". You might not like it. But
you can’t get clearer than that.


Get the basics right
O’Leary is justifiably proud of his airlines performance. For example:
– Most on-time airline in Europe
– % of luggage lost: 1/2 bag per 1000 vs. 30 per 1000 for BA

Focus on your core customers
O’Leary doesn’t try to please everyone. And he doesn’t care that a significant group of people hate flying with him (me included). Instead, he worries about his core customers, and focuses on doing what they want: lowest cost flights with no frills. At all.

Un-relenting drive

Ryanair are un-relenting in their drive to take out cost from their business. Two examples from O’Leary that I love:
–  He found that the set-back pockets on his planes were slowing down the turn-around time, as flight attendants had to empty them. Solution? He asked Boeing to remove them!
– He also found that breakages in reclining seats were costing him £2million a year. So again, he went to Boeing for a fix, and Ryanairs seats no longer recline!

Buzzable marketing
Ryanair get loads of mileage from their marketing by making it controversial and impactful. Take their Winter flights sale. Not low priced. FREE. Yup, no ticket price, no taxes. Nothing.

Embrace the PR, don’t fight it
O’Leary loves the negative stories that are written about Ryanair as they mostly serve to reinforce the brand’s image as the lowest of low cost. So when journalists wrote (incorrectly) that Ryanair staff were banned from charging mobile phones at work as it cost the company money, he started spreading the same rumour himself!

O’Leary loves his brand and business, and has made millions by growing it. And for that he’s an inspiration for all of us.