A discussion posted on FlyerTalk suggests that Delta Air Lines is the least-respected brand in the United States.
I found that somewhat difficult to believe, so I did a little research.
First, a report was published by a company named CoreBrand, which reviewed the top 100 companies considered to be the most well-known from the greater than 1,000 companies which they track. This is the brand respect report of 2012, which is available in .pdf format — although you might have to subscribe to obtain a copy of the report, which is free of charge.
Second — of the 1,025 companies tracked by CoreBrand in 2012 — Delta Air Lines ranked 215, which is hardly the “worst” company. Sure, Delta Air Lines slipped from a rank of 181 in 2011 — but that is not exactly a precipitous drop…
…which leads to third: CoreBrand itself states that “quite a few of the less respected companies are on the rise (such as Delta and Best Buy) showing that branding efforts are starting to pay off.”
More specifically, this is what CoreBrand states in their report on brand respect for 2012 pertaining to Delta Air Lines:
“Delta came in as having the lowest Favorability score of all 100 brands we closely examined. However, both Best Buy and Delta both seem to working at closing the gap between Familiarity and Favorability after clear brand crises (when Familiarity rises while Favorability falls – typically due to negative press). The progress has been slow, but they are showing some results from their rebranding efforts and have been gaining traction. Familiarity and Favorability are rising for both companies. There is still quite some ground to cover before they will move out of the bottom positions on this list.”
The methodology of BrandPower by CoreBrand is a measure of the following two factors which are combined into a single BrandPower score:
Familiarity, or Size
A weighted percentage of survey respondents who are familiar with the brand being evaluated. Familiarity is rated on a five point scale, respondents are considered to be familiar with a brand if they state that they know more than the company name only.
Favorability, or Quality
Those familiar with a corporation are then asked favorability dimensions, overall reputation, perception of management, and investment potential. Favorability attributes are evaluated on a 4-point scale.
Although I have experience with branding, I am not certain what all of that specifically means — and with all due respect to CoreBrand, I am not sure I even care.
A quick perusal of the airline forums on FlyerTalk generally suggests that “the grass tends to be greener” elsewhere. Sure, some FlyerTalk members have threatened to never step foot on an airplane operated by Delta Air Lines ever again. Other FlyerTalk members have also threatened to never step foot on an airplane operated by United Airlines ever again. The same ultimatums have been posted about Air Canada, American Airlines, Air France — and many of the other airlines — on FlyerTalk. So what? I have read those ultimatums year after year after year on FlyerTalk. There are only so many commercial airlines to which one can run.
Furthermore, respect for a company can be fragmented. While there has been some sharp criticism — and perhaps deservedly so — pertaining to the SkyMiles frequent flier loyalty program and the Delta Sky Club concept in general in recent months due to what are perceived to be devaluations to those two entities of Delta Air Lines, one factor which seems to garner consistent praise on FlyerTalk is the service from the front-line employees such as flight attendants, reservations agents and those employees of Delta Air Lines who interact with customers via social media channels…
…and with that last point, I must concur. While I have generally not had bad experiences as a customer with other commercial airlines, the service by the front-line employees at Delta Air Lines in general has mostly been favorable to me — and that certainly does not qualify it to be the “least-respected brand”, in my opinion. I can think of many other brands off the top of my head which are less deserving of my respect than Delta Air Lines.
What do you think? Does Delta Air Lines really deserve to be considered the “least-respected brand”?