With 150,000 travelers moving through the airport every single day, Dubai’s DXB airport has always been a place to reckon with. In recent years, the airport has repeatedly been named the world’s busiest airport for international travel and the world’s third-busiest airport overall.
As an airport that lies at the crossroads between the East and the West, our clients dreamed of making DXB the most preferred transit airport in the world. And they were committed to making it happen.
Airport brands around the world aren’t typically consumer brands, but we realized that to truly engage travelers, Dubai Airports needed a distinctive and relatable consumer-facing identity. The aim was to turn the airport itself into a rewarding destination.
This goal inspired our unique brand architecture solution: Dubai Airports would be a B2B master brand with two consumer-facing destination brands under its umbrella: DXB and DWC.
We were motivated by the question, “What’s the most memorable transit experience one could have?” Through a series of brainstorms, visual research, benchmarking and meetings with the client, we developed six distinctive experiential concepts. The elaborate prototypes for each were then tested among air travelers to identify the favorite.
Seducing the traveler
Research revealed that a traveler’s curiosity about Dubai would be piqued by what they experienced in the airport. The young city is full of surprises with something new around every corner and an exciting twist to the everyday.
We played with the concept of “a surprise within” as the brand idea. Many things are quintessentially Dubai. It is an open, inviting city with a culture of unmatched hospitality, charming polarities and vibrant imagination. Brand DXB not only reflects, but also builds on these engaging and surprising traits of the city.
To bring alive the flavor of Dubai inside the airport, we defined a range of experiences that included displays of local art and calligraphy (branded Art DXB) and concerts in the airport (Music DXB) that are enthusiastically wowing travelers.
Apart from these big anchor experiences, we recommended small but thoughtful offerings to enhance travelers’ experiences at DXB that reflect contemporary hospitality and showcase the accessible luxury the city is known for.
To further entice the traveler, we chose the persona of the tour guide for the brand’s tone of voice—a respectful and welcoming but also energetic and friendly voice represented across all DXB’s physical spaces and online activities.
A surprising mark
To visually reflect “a surprise within” the brandmark features an X composed of arrows that open up to reveal—true to the spirit of Dubai—a surprise hidden within. The contrasting colors serve to position the brand as playful and inviting, differentiating DXB from major global airport brands.
The interiors of DXB are warm, welcoming and inclusive, reflecting the city of Dubai itself, and avoid the stereotypical Arab forms that designers often rely on. We translated the visual identity into a distinctive environmental look and feel that is decidedly modern, unmistakably Dubai and embodies the theme of “a surprise within.”
Consistent with the brand idea, the visual identity also rolled out across print and digital touchpoints and uniforms.
In addition to brand DXB, we designed the brandmark and visual identity of the Dubai Airports master brand. Sleek and clever, the Dubai Airports brandmark is built from the same “surprise within” idea as that of DXB. Along with the visual identity, we created a comprehensive style guide for Dubai Airports’ employees and internal communications.
Brand DXB is evolving into a destination brand offering a broad range of lifestyle experiences. It has partnered with the Dubai edition of Time Out magazine, acting as a curator of information for Dubai-based experiences within and outside the airport.
DXB was launched with fanfare in February 2019, complete with a skydiver event, a catchy ad campaign, enviable media coverage and a congratulatory announcement from the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed “Today we are making a clear statement that will ensure DXB continues to be one of the world’s most innovative and forward-thinking airports for years to come.”
At the DXB launch, Paul Griffiths, CEO of Dubai Airports, said: “The new brand represents the ways in which we connect the world, not only by physically facilitating access to over 220 destinations around the world but by transporting our customers through their experience of different cultures, food, music and art. This is what DXB, Dubai and the UAE are all about.”