[On] Point to Ponder: Effectuation and Iceland Air’s In-Flight Video

Image result for iceland air

When Iceland Air went behind whatever closed-door branding session was held for its executives, truly innovative ideas emerged. I would have enjoyed being a fly on the wall at those meetings. I saw these ideas first-hand when I recently flew them to and from London, stopping briefly in Rejkavik to change planes. I was impressed. The branding was fresh. It was unique. It was exciting. And it was Effectual.

There’s no question – strong branding takes time to develop.  During On Point branding workshops, for example, we help entrepreneurs and management teams dig deep. We invite them to turn off phones, close office doors, and re-visit the big ideas – which always involve great personal stories – that got their companies started. Truth be told, there’s just too much happening on a daily basis – it’s critical to carve out uninterrupted time to think deeply and critically. Out of that investment of time, solid brand messaging is born.

But what does it mean to be Effectual? Effectuation is defined as “a logical thinking used by expert entrepreneurs to build successful ventures.” (Click here to watch an introductory talk I gave on the topic).

One of the five key principles  of Effectuation is called “Bird in the Hand.”  This principle, like steps 1 and 2 of the On Point branding process – is a self audit. Management teams reflect on questions like “Who are we?”, “What are our strengths, skills and passions?” , “What do we have on-hand?” , “Why do we exist?”, “What is our niche?” and ”How are we different?” Iceland Air’s branding – and specifically its in-flight safety video – brilliantly reflects the “Bird in the Hand” principle of Effectuation.

Brainstorming with Effectuation:
Iceland Air’s video, which you can watch here, is exciting to watch. Have you ever seen an in-flight safety video that is exciting to watch? Neither have I. It’s almost as if the executives sat around a table and asked “Bird in the Hand” questions. In fact, I’m sure they did. Questions like, “How is Iceland different? What does Iceland have on hand to share with the world? Are there untapped revenue streams we’re not seeing? What resources are available to us? What types of activities are Icelandic people passionate about doing?” I bet there were a lot of lightbulb moments in that brainstorming session.

Taking Action:
With answers to such questions, the creative and production teams went to work. They crafted a video with stunning outdoor scenes from Iceland. Not only does it address the necessary safety issues, it also highlights Iceland as a  vacation destination. Further still, they seem to achieve a seemingly impossible goal – due to the focus on Iceland’s natural habitat, they diminish the innate fears we all have while watching in-flight safety videos…thoughts of planes crashing, the need to secure a life vest, use a flotation device and oxygen masks. I never even considered that a safety video might ever look different than it has for decades.

By the end of the video, viewers are intrigued by Iceland’s unique place in the world. Its beautiful waterfalls. Whale-watching tours. The Northern Lights. Iceland Air executives- whether they knew it or not – maximized the effectual principle of “Bird in the Hand”. In doing so, they took their brand to the next level.

Expand with Effectuation:
And it wasn’t just the in-flight video that impressed me. Iceland Air has also worked with industry partners in Reykjavik to make it as easy as possible for passengers to explore Iceland.

  • Travelers are invited to stay for up to seven extra nights in Iceland without purchasing a new ticket – think “Longest Layover Ever.”
  • Have a mid-day layover in Reykjavik? Iceland Air can connect to you with bus tours that vary in duration. You can deplane, hop on a bus with other passengers, and take a tour of the local area. They’ll ensure you get back in time to make your connecting flight. The tours are specifically designed with airline passengers in mind.
  • The cabin lighting? It’s reminiscent of the Northern Lights. By design, of course.
  • The above photo – with the aircraft painted so it blends in with the Northern LIghts – is part of the grand brand plan.
  • To complete the Iceland experience, they play unique and beautiful music from some of Iceland’s premier artists – and you can download it for keeps if you want to take it home.

There are bright and innovative individuals heading up Iceland Air’s executive team and its creative agency. They executed a “self-audit” thoroughly, with excellence, and they took risks that paid off. Knowing how hard it is to attract people to their country as a destination – and not ignoring that fact – Iceland played to its strengths. With the help of Effectual thinking, the team did due diligence to identify strategies to entice visitors to spend, in some cases, just a few more hours (and a few more dollars) in their beautiful land. Bravo!

Cindy Skalicky is passionate about developing effective messages. A public speaking coach and branding consultant, she is the owner of On Point Communications, LLC. Learn more at www.onpoint-communications.com or contact Cindy at: info@onpoint-communications.com

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