The challenge facing us with this branding initiative was how to unite five independent carriers – AVIATECA (Guatemala), LACSA (Costa Rica), NICA (Nicaragua), TACA (Honduras) and TACA (El Salvador) - that at times were considered competitors – into a single airline.
For both political and regulatory reasons it was decided that a strategic first step would be a regional alliance. We created the name Grupo TACA for two reasons. One it was easily understood both in English and Spanish, and two – since ultimately the brand identity would become a single brand, TACA - it allowed for a very carefully planned and pre-designed "transitional branding program".
After an extensive Aerobrand platform development process we created the Grupo TACA "anchor" brand identity design – the five golden macaws – which was applied to the tails of all aircraft in the alliance fleet. (The Macaw is a well-known and very symbolic bird of the Central American region and is common to all of the countries served by each carrier.) This anchor united the five carriers and immediately created a sense of a much larger airline as it gave tremendous airport presence to the new Grupo TACA.
In keeping with the transitional branding programme, at first each carrier retained its own identity but used a common alliance typestyle on the forward fuselage. This gave each carrier familiar airport gate identity, yet started the move towards a common brand. It was a simple and inexpensive matter later on in the program to replace these names with that of the single brand – TACA.
The corporate identity also had this "built-in" transitional design capability that allowed for each carrier to be incorporated at the start of the program, eventually being removed in adherence to a carefully planned timeline. The overall brand identity, however, was never impacted negatively by these systematic changes that occurred and, furthermore, proved to be an enormously cost-efficient solution.
We then designed and implemented a wide-ranging branding program for all of the airport environments that included signage, counter designs, lounges and concourses that was an integral part of the brand transition.
The next phase was to design and supervise the production of all interior elements for the Airbus A320 cabins: this included carpets and seat fabrics for both the newly-created business class – Clase Ejecutiva – and the economy cabin, as well as lighting and cabin branding. We also went on to design and produce the new Grupo TACA uniforms for all departments including, flight attendants, airport staff, crew and service personnel.
And, as part of the brand introduction, we were responsible for creating and producing the launch television advertising campaign.
Ultimately the TACA brand became a system-wide identity. It was incorporated into every facet of the organisation in each of the countries served. TACA is now a single airline - and a tremendously successful world-class brand.