This is how you do corporate branding


About two years ago, I got the assignment from my marketing professor to take a better look at a Dutch company that, according to her, was doing exceptionally well in the corporate branding department. More specifically, how to reach their customers whilst creating a positive buzz around them on social media. I was relatively skeptic, considering that since the beginning of the social media age, companies have been quite apt at branding via social media.

The company that I am referring to is KLM, or Royal Aviation Company. KLM was founded in October of 1919 and is seen as one of the major Dutch internationals across the globe. Being part of Europe’s leading aviation group, AIR FRANCE KLM, it still is the oldest airline company to retain their original name. So what does this company have to do with branding via social media? In 2010 they started the ‘Surprise’ campaign, which was a wildly praised branding attempt. The idea was that flight attendants would greet travelers at flight gate and hand them a personalized gift. Something that they could enjoy during their trip or when they got back home. They did this by following the social media personas of a set number of travelers and see what they liked and what they were talking about online. They were right where their customers were, and that is admirable. Moreover, this is just one of the many successful campaigns that KLM has initiated

However, there is an obvious downside to this all. Although it is really nice to create an interactive feeling between company and customer, it distracts from problems that still need fixing. Under the Youtube-video multiple reactions were posted concerning luggage problems, payment problems and flight delays. So although KLM tries to engage more with its audience, maybe it tries to do so in a way the audience might not even need all that much. Food for thought.


Airlines, K. R. (2010, December 8). KLM Surprise. Retrieved from Youtube:

Bachfischer, D. N. (2013, February 25). Case Study: Glimpses into KLM’s successful social media strategy. Retrieved from Aquarius:

Holt, D. (2016, March). Branding in the Age of Social Media. Retrieved from Harvard Business Review:


3 thoughts on “This is how you do corporate branding

  1. Wow! That is such a creepy thing for an airline to do! Also probably so time consuming. How long did that branding campaign last for? And what kinds of things was KLM giving their customers? This is a really cool campaign but I find it so funny and weird that they were creeping their customers’ Facebook pages.


    1. They gave around 40 gifts during that period. If you take a look at the video, you can actually see how pleasantly surprised all the people are. They helped people who forgot phone chargers, bag etc. But also just gave extra gifts, such as something of a fitbuddy to a girl who tweeted that she would miss being able to going for a run during her trip to Madrid


  2. I remember studying KLM’s “surprise” campaign last semester and being amazed by their dedication to ensuring optimal customer experiences. Air Canada actually launched a similar campaign a couple of years ago that was inspired by KLM’s campaign and was received with an equal amount of enthusiasm and success. This goes to show how powerful social media is and how it’s very easy for one organization’s successful methods to create new trends among its competitors.


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