Heathrow 75: a Lesson in how to Successfully Celebrate a Brand Anniversary

Heathrow 75th Anniversary

We all understand how important anniversaries are, not least if we have ever been unlucky enough to forget one. And no matter the number of years – five, ten, 75 and beyond – there is always cause for celebration.

Internally, a brand anniversary is a moment to reflect on the company’s journey, celebrate their history and plan for the future. Externally, it can, as Andrew Geoghegan puts it, “tap into the sense of reassurance that constancy can bring consumers in a volatile world.”

For Heathrow’s 75th anniversary, our brief was to create a much needed feel-good moment that spreads a message of hope, comfort and confidence to passengers and employees alike amidst a very challenging time.

Key to this was the sense of building upon the past whilst keeping a firm eye on the future – a time where we will be once again reunited with the rest of the world, via Heathrow. Headlines for the campaign reflected this strongly in four central statements: “more connections”, “more memories”, “more adventures” and “more time together”. These are Heathrow’s promises to their customers, in their 75th year and beyond, and capture a renewed sense of hope, camaraderie and possibility with the anniversary celebrations.

Heathrow 75 Anniversary

Here are three reasons why a milestone anniversary plays such an important role in the future of a heritage brand, and especially for Heathrow after a difficult year.

1. Anniversaries are proven to increase brand awareness

YouGov data from 2019 demonstrates that brand anniversary campaigns can lead to a positive boost for customer brand perception, leading to an increase in ‘buzz’ and ‘impression’ scores for the key brands studied. This provides a valuable opportunity, particularly for heritage brands, to restore their influence in the consumer market and equally consolidate employee pride.

Heathrow may be best known as a leader in the aviation industry but it also plays an essential role as the UK’s gateway to the world – and theirs to us. It is undoubtedly a huge part of this country’s fabric, national identity and economy. But, because of the pandemic and various lockdown restrictions, the prospect of travel has been impacted for the last year – because of this, brands like Heathrow can use their anniversary in a powerful way to get back into our collective conscious.

Our approach for the campaign was not to see anniversaries as something just to be marked once and then forgotten, but a committed and actionable statement to engage customers and employees alike.

2. They provide an opportunity to re-galvanise employees and customers alike

It of course has to be said that Heathrow’s 75th anniversary comes after an extremely difficult year, not just for the brand, but also for the world. In April 2021, air traffic was down 92.1%, compared to pre-pandemic 2019 figures, following over a year of restrictions on non-essential travel.

Naturally, as we continue out of lockdown and international travel once again becomes a focus, the spotlight is certainly on Heathrow. Therefore, it could be said that this anniversary celebration actually comes at the perfect time to remind people of Heathrow’s importance, re-installing that all-important brand awareness, trust and loyalty.

An anniversary shouldn’t be celebrated as an isolated incident, just during the day or month itself – and a good milestone logo is one that can be fully integrated and used across a variety of communications. With Heathrow 75, this started with several internal touch points to increase colleague awareness and engagement in the 75th anniversary and increased to billboards within the terminals themselves, as well as on social media.

Our approach for the campaign was not to see anniversaries as something just to be marked once and then forgotten, but a committed and actionable statement to engage customers and employees alike.

A business anniversary is a unique opportunity to re-energise your brand and publicly re-commit to your core values. When executed correctly, a well-thought out campaign will increase your brand awareness and reinstate customer and employee loyalty.

3. Anniversaries are a chance to re-focus

For Heathrow 75, we wanted people to celebrate this major milestone for Heathrow and help set out a clear and positive vision for 2021 and beyond which instilled pride in those associated with the organisation.

Heathrow’s anniversary marque was both unique, but reflected their story.  As a business, Heathrow stands for progress, and therefore the 75th anniversary identity logo needed to reflect that. With Covid-19 changing everything in the last year, the marque provided an opportunity for Heathrow to rebuild trust with long-standing colleagues and highlight positive passenger journeys within the campaign.

Instead of dwelling on the difficulty of the past year, the focus instead was on looking to new places and experiences, time with people we love and the opportunities to grow and evolve.

Heathrow 75

A business anniversary is a unique opportunity to re-energise your brand and publicly re-commit to your core values. When executed correctly, a well-thought out campaign will increase your brand awareness and reinstate customer and employee loyalty.

As with any campaign, know your audience and objectives and build your campaign around them. For Heathrow 75, the aim was to reach both internal and external audiences, including the media, passengers and Team Heathrow colleagues.

But how can you ensure that an anniversary campaign will be memorable and effective?

Create content with credibility

What matters most about Heathrow is not how it changed the British aviation landscape 75 years ago, but how it continues to do so in the present. Heathrow is a brand that continues to reinvent itself and remains not just relevant, but prevalent today.

It’s heritage and history provide it with credibility, thus the anniversary marque prominently features the number of years. Heathrow’s iconic horizon logo already successfully evokes not just the breadth of their service and influence, but their commitment to renewal, growth and improvement – whether you’re arriving or departing.

Therefore, the anniversary marque allows us to revisit, re-commit to and re-install pride in what Heathrow stands for, which plays into the heavy emotional component of the brief.

Use the opportunity to look back, but also forward

It is every brand’s dream to discover new, compelling ways to engage with their employees and audience.

Looking ahead is not new for Heathrow as a brand: it is absolutely at their core and vital to their brand identity. In their 75 years, and all those succeeding them, what shines through is their commitment to the journeys and connections (literal and metaphorical) of the future, across all customer and employee touchpoints.

After an extremely difficult year, it was perhaps even more fitting to focus on the future for Heathrow 75. Whether we travel for business or leisure, to be reunited with family, friends or colleagues across the world, this campaign reminds us how Heathrow enables us to do so – and will continue to for many years to come.

Heathrow 75

Image supplied by Heathrow