At Long Beach Airport, you’ve arrived
Capturing the spirit of Southern California in a better airport experience
In 2012, Long Beach Airport completed a major renovation designed to create a “first-class experience for all” – one that’s welcoming, convenient, and a step above what most air travelers encounter. Tenet Partners was asked to craft a new brand for the airport, helping attract passengers by capturing the spirit of the new airport and its accessible location, providing convenient access to all of Southern California. The brand was built to evoke the relaxed feel of Southern California and the airport itself – but first, the team had to find out what made that experience so special.
Complementing the environment to change how travelers feel
All too often, airport terminals are designed with a utilitarian eye. Travelers are hard-pressed to tell the difference between departure and destination; most concourses look the same and the businesses people encounter are identical. Travelers don’t really feel they’ve arrived in a different place until they leave the airport.
As part of its terminal renovation, Long Beach Airport took a different tack by deliberately making elements of the local environment and the community part of the airport experience. The ambitious project encompassed a 35,000-square-foot concourse with an open-air, palm-tree-lined esplanade, concessions that featured local businesses instead of generic nationwide franchises, native plant life, fire pits and historical art exhibits. The stunning architecture complements its surroundings; it feels like part of the city and the region.
Building consensus across the board
As a municipally-owned airport, Long Beach has a broad range of stakeholders and members of the local government and the community highly invested in it. To build the brand and gain consensus around the new direction, the Tenet team first needed to find out if the renovation was delivering the transformed experience that the airport intended.
Tenet strategists conducted more than 100 interviews with a broad range of people who use, work at, and are interested in the airport – outbound travelers and people arriving from far away, airport and TSA employees, businesses located at the airport, government officials and members of the community. The reactions among business and leisure travelers were overwhelmingly positive, for those familiar with the airport and visitors arriving for the first time, proving that what Long Beach set out to accomplish was in fact made real.
Clearly, the alterations had their desired effect. Statements like “I felt as if my vacation had already begun” and “what pride I felt walking through both terminals and seeing all of my favorite Long Beach-based restaurants” were common in reviews.
For all audiences, there was a clear thread running through the reactions: the experience at Long Beach Airport was more human than travelers had grown accustomed to. There’s a feeling that people have “arrived” when they come to the airport, thanks to a sense of heightened luxury and service that hearken back to a time when air travel was more of an adventure to be savored than a chore to be endured. It’s the first-class experience that Long Beach had made a primary goal of the renovation.
A new brand distills the essence of the Long Beach experience
In building the brand platform, the Tenet team focused on the human-centered elements that defined the airport experience, to bring out those factors that would encourage people to choose Long Beach Airport:
- Balance – A mix of new and old, bringing modernity while honoring the airport’s heritage and Long Beach’s aviation history, to deliver up-to-date service while hearkening back to the days when air travel was a real pleasure.
- Convenience – The ease of navigating through the airport, and the ease of getting from the airport to anywhere in Southern California.
- Service – A first-class experience for all, built from attention to detail and time spent partnering with and training those who bring the experience to life.
- Scale – A neighborhood airport experience that will never get too big, despite being in the center of a vital metropolis.
- Connection – A genuine connection to the Long Beach community and the Southern California region, with a sense of place that lets travelers know exactly where they are.
Long Beach Airport has some key advantages compared to the hustle and bustle of larger airports, giving it a flavor all its own. The physical environment is delightfully Southern Californian, with travelers able to relax in the open air, surrounded by reminders of where they are. These two thoughts found their way into a new tagline for the airport – “Where the going is easy.”
The “easy going” concept was extended into the new brand’s visual language, which uses the calming palette of the Long Beach shoreline – the warmth of the sun, the cool of the air and the calm colors in between – to capture what it’s like to walk off the airplane and arrive in Southern California. The symbols echo distinctive elements of the airport’s architecture and environment – the palms in the airport and the region, and hints of both the modern terminal and this historic building. There’s a clear sense of the airport as a destination in tune with its surroundings and the people it serves.
The successful combination of brand and experience
The airport’s new and improved experience are gaining notice, positioning Long Beach Airport in the way its management intended – as a gateway to the whole Southern California region, and a place that is more than just a conduit for airline passengers.
In early 2016, the airport’s local-business-based dining concourse garnered national recognition in a USA Today 10 Best readers’ poll that named Long Beach Airport the best in the nation for dining. What’s notable about the award is that Long Beach was the smallest of the 15 airports nominated – a testament to the first-class experience and attention to customers that the airport delivers.
Bryant L. Francis, former Director of Long Beach Airport, reinforced how important it is to deliver on the airport’s brand promise, and the role that the new brand plays. “Long Beach Airport is woven from the fabric of our city and is deeply connected to our customers, our neighbors and our community. Our new brand is a reflection of who we are today and part of our strategic investment in our future. Tenet Partners helped us capture the emotional essence of our identity and I’m proud of the image we have to convey to the world.”