WEDNESDAY 22 JAN 2014 4:25 PM


The past two weeks have been rife with news of Twitter’s favourite love-to-hate discount airline Ryanair trying to revamp its image. The low-price carrier launched an ad campaign asserting that it is changing. It has introduced an easily-navigable website and it has struck a deal with Google – the first ever for the airline – allowing its prices and routes to appear in comparison to others.

All of these customer-facing incentives are essentially responding to two things: customer dissatisfaction – Ryanair was the worst brand in Which?'s customer service report – and reputation. The Ryanair brand itself has done nothing to help its reputation in recent years.

In Siegel+Gale’s 2013 Global Brand Simplicity Index, Ryanair was ranked dead last in the UK for the second year running. The report says that the company had drawn in record profits but that it is viewed as a complex brand with sneaky tactics. In comparison, Virgin Atlantic ranks 9th, though it has reported huge losses this year. Competitor easyJet came in at 94, a 14-spot drop from 2012 largely due to hidden fees.

Other brands who have similarly poor reputations have pursued similar customer service-focused responses as a means to reviving an ailing brand. Talk Talk, for one, was in the 123 spot in 2012. It has since attempted to reposition its brand as a TV platform, rather than a broadband supplier. In Siegel+Gale’s survey, it climbed to 106.

The correlation between reputation and customer satisfaction thus lies in service and communications. Rana Brightman, senior strategist at Siegel+Gale, said in October, “What we’re finding is when it comes to reputation, it has to be all of those things. You cant put a great message out there if your service isn’t backing it up and vice versa.” Time can only tell if Ryanair’s service-focused approach to reputation building will pay off.