On Tuesday, Alaska Airlines The official notice on the website states: Horizon Air is retiring its public brand and adopting the Alaska Airlines Eskimo. The new Q400 paint scheme prominently features the more widely known Alaska Airlines brand while at the same time retaining the valued Horizon name. Although Alaska Airlines maintains that Horizon is not merging with Alaska, they already are responsible for marketing, pricing and scheduling all Horizon flights. In this sense, Alaska is treating Horizon as its regional airline.
The move is not unusual as brands mature and it’s wise that Alaska Airlines is examining its brand architecture to see what makes sense and to embrace business growth. But the statement that they are “retiring” the Horizon Air brand is not matched by the proposed changes, at least to date. It’s possible that this is the first in a series of steps to retirement over time. But let’s look at what has been decided so far.
The Alaska name and logo will dominate the new signage on the planes, making Alaska Airlines the endorser brand for Horizon. Keeping some of the features of Horizon (complimentary NW beer and wine, Horizon uniforms) means that either Horizon is not really going away, but does have a more defined role within the Alaska portfolio. If Alaska is thinking of extending its regional presence into markets not yet served by Horizon, then taking advantage of the better known Alaskan Airlines makes a lot of sense. It also opens the door for Alska to create other sub-brands, if they choose to so, to service other niche markets. The only confusing part is the proposed signage “Proudly Operated by Horizon Air” next to the forward and aft passenger entry/exit doors. This says that Horizon Air is more of an ingredient brand (ala “Intel Inside”). Maybe it was a concession to someone at Horizon, but it’s confusing.