Country of Origin Branding: The Case of Air Canada

University essay from Lunds universitet/Företagsekonomiska institutionen

Author: Brendon Case; Oliver Jones; [2018]

Keywords: Business and Economics;

Abstract: Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to research how Air Canada uses their country-of-origin as part of their identity and branding strategy and to find out how a global customer base perceives it. Air Canada was chosen for the main focus of this research, as the airline is leveraging their Canadian country-of-origin as the primary factor in differentiating themselves in a highly competitive market. With the vision of becoming a top 10 global airline, Air Canada is using the Canadian country-of-origin as part of their identity and brand strategy to achieve this. Design/methodology/approach: To explore how Air Canada is using the Canadian country-of-origin as part of their identity and branding strategy, a qualitative method research approach is utilised. A single case study on Air Canada and an interview with an Air Canada Brand Design Manager was carried out to establish the internal identity of the airline. The focus groups were then carried out to establish the image of Air Canada amongst the global audience to identify if there is an alignment or a misalignment between identity and image of the brand. The alignments and misalignments were analysed using Kapferer’s (2012) Brand Identity Prism which considers how the identity of a brand is communicated and received as an image by the consumer. Findings: The results of the research highlight that Air Canada is justified in using the strong Canadian country brand as part of its identity and brand strategy. By asking a global audience who had very limited knowledge of the brand, resulted in consumers evaluating the brand based on their associations with Canada. The favourable associations people have with Canada were reflected positively on the brand image of Air Canada. However, using country-of-origin did have some negative impacts on the image, as the global audience believed Air Canada to be an airline for Canadian consumers only. The results highlighted several alignments and misalignments between identity and image and the most crucial finding highlighted that Air Canada needs to improve their communication and brand visibility to build relationships and engage the global audience they are trying to target. Research limitations/implications: The study was limited to Lund University Students which will influence the generalisability of results. Also, by focusing only on Air Canada for the case, the results may not applicable to the whole industry, given the fact Air Canada has unique characteristics. Originality/value: This research will provide valuable insight to brands who use country-of-origin as part of their branding strategy. Keywords: Country-of-origin, Air Canada, brand identity prism, brand identity, brand image, differentiation,

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