Ways for Delta to Protect the Northwest Name

Northwest Airlines Timetable CoverNow that the Delta/Northwest merger has been completed, the work of re-branding the two airlines begins. Rebranding is needed for obvious reasons; you have two very different airlines, with very different traditions.

If Northwest has a midwestern and West Coast feel, Delta is all about the South. Like a Southern country store, Delta now distributes Lance crackers with its signature Coca-Cola. That’s Deep South, though folks not from the South won’t realize how Deep South it really is. Might as well give the passengers a packet of peanuts to soak in the Coke too.

But back to the merger. While Delta becomes the dominant airline, officials in Atlanta need to consider the history of the Northwest brand and try to preserve elements of it, if only to protect the brand (you have to use a brand to keep it).

While there are many small ways to keep the name alive (including using it for subsidiary companies), it would be smart for Delta to use the Northwest brand across the Pacific, where Delta faces intense competition. On the Pacific, Northwest has decades of brand equity, particularly in countries like China and Japan, where Delta is not well known.

Go back and read our previous posts on the issue. There is significant intellectual property in the Northwest name and Delta needs to figure how to use it, and keep it viable. Just licensing it on some little model airplanes isn’t enough. But that is a start.

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