Preussag launches £57m rebrand to put a smile on Thomson Travel

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The Independent Online

Thomson Travel, the UK travel company that Germany's Preussag acquired last year for £1.8bn, will today embark on a three-year project to rebrand its operations under the name "World of TUI".

None of Thomson's existing brands, which include Thomson Holidays, Lunn Poly and Britannia Airways, will change their names. Instead, the new logo will be emblazoned across shop fronts, aircraft tailfins and holiday brochures in a move intended to consolidate Preussag's tourism activities.

Charles Gurassa, chief executive of Thomson Travel Group, said Preussag's aim was to create a tourism master brand. "It's a bit like the Nike swoosh," he said, commenting on the smile-shaped logo. "The idea is simple ­ our mission is to put a smile on the customer's face. The look and feel for our brands will be that they are clearly from the same family."

The rebranding exercise ­ across more than 70 tourism brands in 12 countries ­ will cost Preussag 30m euros (£19m) a year for the next three years.

Most customers will have their first contact with the new master brand this autumn when the 2002 summer brochures are published, although the first aircraft to carry the new logo arrives in the UK today. The brand name and logo is based on the German travel group TUI ­ bought by Preussag in 1998 ­ which stands for Touristik Union International.

Not all attempts to create a new brand have been successful. It required HSBC several years to persuade its Midland Bank customers to fully embrace its makeover.

John Williamson, at the brand consultancy Wolff Olins, said: "At least [Preussag] hasn't made the mistake that British Airways made of going too far." Earlier this year, BA admitted it had made a mistake when it decided to replace its traditional Union flag tailfins for a mix of "world" symbols.

Mr Williamson said: "[Preussag] is using brand to lock out the competition as the travel industry goes from being a national to an international business. It will help Preussag to manage its business more effectively, giving it more presence in the travel industry." However, he doubted that the exercise would make any difference to the customer.

Preussag's rebranding move came as Europe's biggest leisure group and tour operator reported a 1.5 per cent rise in net profit for the first six months to 134m euros compared with a year earlier on sales up 11 per cent to 10.9bn euros.

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