High Flyers Column
High Flyers: Laura Toner on the heart of ARI’s brand transformation
Earlier this year, Aer Rianta International (ARI) unveiled a refreshed brand identity and framework after 18 months of global efforts. In this column, ARI Global Head of Marketing Laura Toner outlines how it isn’t just a surface-level makeover but a profound redefinition of the travel retailer’s identity and values.
Driving the recent rebrand at ARI has been an incredible journey, one that has touched not just the surface but the very heart and soul of our organisation. As the Global Head of Marketing, I’ve had the privilege of witnessing the impact this change has had on our business. I must admit, it’s not just professional fascination but also a personal passion that drives me.
Brand isn’t just a logo or a catchy slogan; it’s the essence of who we are. It’s how we present ourselves to the world, how we want people to perceive us and most importantly, what we aspire to achieve. At ARI, we know that forging emotional connections with our customers is paramount. It’s about going beyond transactions and tapping into the human experience.
ARI Global Head of Marketing Laura Toner
Earlier this year, after more than 18 months of global efforts, we unveiled a strategic brand identity and framework for ARI. It wasn’t just a fresh coat of paint; it was a redefinition of our identity, a recommitment to our values and a reaffirmation of our vision. It was about aligning every facet of our business with a single purpose – to bring joy to our customers on their journeys.
ARI is so much more than a travel retailer. We are curators of bespoke experiences, creators of a deep Sense of Place authentic to each location, and dedicated partners for our stakeholders. Our brand is the ‘what’ – the foundation upon which we build. Our Customer Value Proposition (CVP) and our exceptional team are the ‘how’ – the dedicated talent which brings it all to life.
The driving force: The ARI Global Marketing team pioneered the customer-centric brand revamp to form the bedrock of the organisation’s growth strategy
Our brand principles are the building blocks of our culture. We’ve worked hard to integrate them into every nook and cranny of our business. It’s not about plastering our logo on every wall, it’s about living our brand authentically. ARI has never been a company that cuts corners or overpromises. We’re about delivering on our commitments and exceeding expectations.
Six months in, we’re determined to ensure that our new brand framework isn’t just a strategy gathering dust in the marketing department. It’s a philosophy that permeates every level and corner of our global business.
“We’re all part of the journey to bring joy on your way”
Creating this brand involved collaboration across the organisation and with ARI partners. We knew that for this to succeed, every member of our team had to feel a sense of ownership and every partner had to believe in it. So, we engaged internal and external stakeholders throughout the process. It was true collaboration – they weren’t just bystanders, they were co-authors of our brand story.
To ensure that our brand lives and breathes throughout ARI, we appointed a Chief Joy Ambassador, the wonderful Paula Pryor. She’s on a mission to spread joy through training and development programmes and everyday work life. But as we know, true change starts from the top; our executive team is leading the way in embodying our brand behaviours. Their commitment to understanding the power of our brand, even during the challenging times of COVID-19 when non-essential spending was on hold, is truly impressive. Their leadership played a crucial role in driving us forward in our mission to bring ‘joy on your way’ to every aspect of ARI’s new brand.
The Easter bunny was busy at Cyprus Duty Free as the ARI team put together an interactive experience for travellers in the lead up to Orthodox Easter
But this isn’t just a top-down endeavour. Every single person in our business, regardless of location, department or role – front of house or backstage, based in Ireland, Montreal, Cyprus or anywhere in between – plays a critical role in bringing the ARI brand to life. We’re all part of the journey to bring ‘joy on your way’.
A brand isn’t just a flashy logo; it’s the DNA, the fabric and soul of a business. That’s what has always fascinated me about the power of great brands. I was particularly passionate about ensuring that our brand refresh not only honoured but also elevated ARI’s rich heritage of pioneering travel retail for over 75 remarkable years.
Delivering joy: ARI partnered with Dior to unveil a pop-up at Montréal-Trudeau International Airport in June,inviting customers to discover a summer makeup look inspired by the vibrant colours of Dior Riviera
We’re thrilled with the reception our new brand has received both internally and externally. Our partners, integral stakeholders in our brand evolution, have been impressed with this refresh. They recognise the positive impact it will have on business and on the overall airport experience for passengers. But the true test lies ahead.
While we’ve made significant strides, we recognise that there’s still much work to be done. We are actively developing engagement programmes for our teams, pushing the boundaries to ensure that our colleagues are continually thinking about how to seamlessly integrate ARI’s new brand into their daily tasks and interactions with our customers.
Beauty is along the star performers in the eye-catching retail zone at Bahrain Duty Free
Our commitment to living the brand didn’t end with its launch – it’s an ongoing journey of transformation and growth. We believe that by fostering this deep-rooted brand culture, we’ll create an environment where the brand becomes second nature and all of our actions embody the spirit of ‘joy on your way’.
As we set our sights on the future, we envision our brand – in synergy with our exceptional people, unwavering commitment to our CVP and distinctive partnership approach – serving as the bedrock of ARI’s ambitious growth strategy. This dynamic combination will not only continue to distinguish ARI from other travel retailers but also allow our customers and partners to truly experience the essence of ARI: the remarkable joy that we bring.
The Love Airport Beauty campaign highlights the price point advantage of duty free shopping at ARI’s The Loop at Dublin and Cork airports in Ireland
Love is in the air: To celebrate Valentine’s Day, Cyprus Duty Free customers at Larnaca Airport were treated to in-store retailtainment
At the brand launch in February, (left to right) ARI’s Chief Financial Officer Colin O’Donovan; Chief Joy Ambassador Paula Pryor; and Chief People Officer Siobhán Griffin toasted the start of a new chapter
The event paid tribute to the retailer’s 75-year legacy and was attended by key ARI officials including (left to right) Global Head of Marketing Laura Toner; Chief Commercial Officer & Deputy CEO Anthony Kenny; Global Marketing Manager Nicola Lindsay; Chief Joy Ambassador Paula Pryor and CEO Ray Hernan
The Summer Oasis campaign at Larnaca Airport embodies ARI’s ‘joy on your way’ philosophy with tropical colours and illustrations
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