Stephens marketing firm to rebrand Columbia Regional Airport

Columbia Regional Airport completed two maintenance projects this year.

By the beginning of next year, Columbia residents will see a new, updated Columbia Regional Airport.

The airport recently enlisted the help of Creative Ink, a Stephens College student-run marketing firm, to create a new logo, tagline and style sheet for the company.

“What happened in this particular case is last spring, we started working with the Office of Cultural Affairs for the city to redo their logo for a number of reasons,” said Kate Gray, adviser to Creative Ink and an assistant professor of strategic communication design at Stephens. “They needed to have a new presence.”

The Columbia Regional Airport also needed a new presence, said Columbia spokesman Steven Sapp.

“Columbia Regional Airport is going through a rebirth of sorts,” Sapp said. “We are looking for some fresh and new ideas for our branding assets.”

The airport is going for a “40 in 20” goal, meaning 40 percent of potential customers will be using Columbia Regional Airport in 2020. Things are changing in the airline business, Sapp said.

“For many years, we had true regional service, meaning you hopped a flight from (Columbia Regional Airport) to St. Louis or Kansas City, then flew to the next hub or your destination,” Sapp said. “With daily direct flights from (Columbia Regional Airport) to (Dallas/Ft. Worth) and (Chicago), one can skip the first leg of (the) journey.”

After seeing the Office of Cultural Affairs logo and hearing recommendations from others, Creative Ink was chosen to represent the airport.

“After an initial meeting with Kate Gray and the Creative Ink team, we found the youthful enthusiasm contagious,” Sapp said. “We felt that the team understood our needs and was ready to tackle a project that a professional ad or marketing agency would be proud to work on.”

There are parallels between Stephens College and Columbia Regional Airport, said senior Michelle Niewald, Creative Ink firm director.

“I see a lot of similarities between the airport and Stephens,” Niewald said. “They’re both smaller, and they stand in the shadow of other major (institutions). They know why they’re so special, but they have to show the rest of the world why they are so special.”

The companies have had one meeting together, an intake meeting to come up with ideas for the creative aspect. These ideas will be presented to the airport Oct. 15.

“From there, we’re moving into logo ideas and how to develop the identity of the Columbia Regional Airport (at) this really critical point in its history,” Gray said.

“Why drive when it’s so easy to fly?” will be replaced with a more timeless tagline, Niewald said. The airport is in need of a new one, Sapp said.

“Our branding asset, our logo, was created in the early-to-mid-‘90s,” Sapp said. “While it has served us well, it was created before digital marketing opportunities existed…. It's time for an updated look and for multiple branding assets. Not to mention the need for a style guide to protect our branding assets.”

The redesign should be finished by Creative Ink before the end of the semester but will not be revealed by the airport until early next year. On top of this, many other renovations to Columbia Regional Airport will come in the upcoming years, Sapp said.

“In 2014, we hope to reconstruct the intersection of the main runway and crosswind runway,” Sapp said. “A year later, we hope to rebuild, realign and lengthen the crosswind runway. The year after, (we hope to) extend and improve the main runway which will require re-aligning two roads, Route H and Rangeline Road. With airfield improvements complete, we can focus on a new terminal.”

Two renovations were completed this year, the replacements of the main taxiway and the wildlife incursion fence.

This is all part of a master plan for the airport, Sapp said.

“As mentioned, as the airport grows, we want to meet our marketing goal of ‘40 in 20’ and that requires a new approach to marketing Columbia Regional Airport as the first choice a person would turn to for their air travel needs,” Sapp said.

Creative Ink is excited to help the airport reach its goals, Gray said.

“We’re just excited, and we’re honored to work on something that is this important for the city of Columbia and for this entire region and to support the city,” Gray said.

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