What’s Next: Tony’s Top 10 Tips for Entrepreneurs: Page 3 of 3
By Goh Thean Eu October 2, 2015
7) Focus on one image when it comes to branding
During the early days, there was the word ‘AirAsia’ and a logo of a bird in our branding.
If you look at the top brands in the world, there’s only one image that comes to your mind. When I say “Shell,” you think of the Shell logo. When I say “Coca-Cola,” you think of the word ‘Coke’ in italics, and when I say “Nike,” you think of the swoosh.
So, back to our earlier AirAsia brand, we said drop the bird – we felt it was facing the wrong way anyway – and we used ‘AirAsia’ as our logo. Just one image. Why spend double the money to promote two images?
We also dropped the blue and the green colours. I tried very hard not to go with red, because everyone thinks that I want to be Richard Branson [the Virgin Group founder and Fernandes’ former boss] ... but it was the best colour, so we picked red.
So yes, the colour does make a big difference!
8) Go on the ground
What I used to do – although I don’t do this anymore – was that once a month, I would carry bags, I would be a cabin crew [member], and also at the check-in counter.
I did this for two reasons: The first is that you can’t be an effective CEO (chief executive officer) unless you go on the ground to experience the real situation.
Here’s a true story. The baggage handling team told me that they needed belt loaders. I told them, “No, we can’t buy that as it’s too expensive.”
So one day when I was tasked to carry bags, they put me on one of the Indonesia flights. People who fly with us generally bring their house with them, but people who fly to Indonesia bring their neighbour’s house as well!
So there was a lot of bags. I broke my back in the process, and I told my team that they were right and I was wrong, and let’s buy the belt loaders.
If I didn’t do that [go on the ground] and just sat comfortably in the office, I would have made a wrong decision, damaged a lot of bags, and probably started a union.
The second reason [for going on the ground] is that I wanted to look for talent. I wasn’t looking for the talents from Oxford or Cambridge, I was looking for the Grade 3 SPM [O Levels equivalent] kind of guys who needed a second chance.
9) Never underestimate the potential of your staff
I broke all the rules in terms of hiring people. To me, as long as you have a dream, you can do anything.
There was an ex-cabin crew member – she came up to me one day and told me that her dream was to become a pilot. I told her to go for it.
Then she called me up one day and asked if she could take part in the Miss Thailand [beauty pageant], and I told her okay, as long as I get to use her photographs in our marketing materials.
She won the [Miss Universe Thailand] pageant and recently became a captain – so we are the only airline in the world with a Miss Thailand flying with us.
The moral of the story is that we have such a flat structure that she was able to tell me what her dreams were, and we were able to make a raw diamond into a diamond.
Another one of my boys, a baggage handler in Kuching, told me he wanted to become a pilot. I told him to go for it. He passed all the exams ... he had the top marks in the flying academy. Today, he is a captain.
We have many of such stories at AirAsia.
Your biggest assets, besides your ideas, are your people – because at the end of the day, it is the people who will deliver your ideas.
10) Data is king
We have a huge amount of data that we don’t know what to do with it, but everyone else wants our data ... so we figured it must be something very valuable and there must be an opportunity there.
We are investing in a few ventures. We plan to launch our own version of TripAdvisor, a travel dongle, a new YouTube-type of channel and more – data will be playing an essential role in these ventures. Data will be king.
Other What’s Next Stories:
AirAsia is an Internet company … no, really!
Disruptors will not kill off banking incumbents
Think about zero, or become irrelevant
Traditional retailers do have an edge
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