The Design Feature and Marketing That Made the Wright Brothers the Inventors of the Airplane

David Pflieger explains how Wilbur and Orville Wright set themselves apart from their competition and became pioneers of aviation.


We’ve all heard of the Wright brothers, but do you know exactly how they impacted the field of aviation and why they were different from their predecessors? Wilbur and Orville Wright were actually not even the first people to create a machine that flew in the air, but they are nonetheless credited with the invention more than anyone else, and they were definitely the most successful at it.

According to History, 1903 was the year that Wilbur flew the plane that the brothers had designed. He flew it for only 59 seconds, but he was able to safely land it. This was actually a huge step in aviation. Several other inventors had already been able to get a plane off of the ground, but the problem was that there was no control, and the aircraft often crashed. By observing how birds modulated their wings, they learned that this was the key to creating a flyer that the person flying it would be able to control. And this is also part of the reason why they are credited with creating the first successful airplane.

But having a machine that could both fly with control and land without crashing was only part of the success of the Wright brothers. It’s also only part of the reason that we have so long credited them with the invention of the airplane. When they first made claims in America that they had a machine that would fly, most people didn’t believe them. So Wilbur decided to take their invention over to Europe. The story was exactly the opposite there. In Europe, Wilbur found many people who were interested in their flying machine. By 1909, Orville had joined Wilbur, and they were giving rides to political figures and journalists. The interest grew, and soon after, Orville and Wilbur were setting up contracts both in Europe and the United States. After a few years, they were wealthy businessmen.

So although several other people were able to make machines that flew, the Wright brothers were the first ones to not only make one that could both fly and land without crashing, but they were also the first people to be able to market their invention to an interested public. On top of that, more than 100 years later, airplane designs still feature the modulated wing design that set their machine apart from the others that failed.

Rebranded Fiji Airways Aircraft Reflect Spirit of Fiji

During his tenure as the Managing Director and CEO of Fiji’s National Airline, Air Pacific Ltd., Dave Pflieger implemented a complete restructuring, re-fleeting, and re-branding of the airline transforming it into a highly successful and profitable carrier renamed “Fiji Airways”. Re-fleeting work included retiring and adding several new aircraft types.

In 2012, Fiji Airways (as Air Pacific) chose a day of national celebration to unveil the visual model of its new aircraft, showcasing the updated designs for the first time on “Fiji Day“, October 10th (the day the country celebrates its independence day). The re-fleeting offered the airline its first-ever opportunity to customize aircraft to its own specifications, which it did by purchasing brand new Airbus A330-200s. The A330 offered significantly better fuel efficiency over the airline’s previous Boeing 747 and Boeing 767s, and the new planes also allowed for a much improved passenger experience with lie-flat business-class seats, in seat power, and new Panasonic in-flight entertainment in both business and economy. Additionally, the aircraft’s payload and range created an opportunity for the airline to fly more weekly flights to new and existing markets in the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, and China.

Fiji Airway’s new aircraft livery featured unique, attention-getting Masi artwork and designs that reflected Fiji’s distinctive island culture and history. According to Mr. Pflieger, the company aimed to develop a brand and look that was “distinctive, unique, and true to Fiji” and he viewed the aircraft re-design as the capstone of its transformation into a revitalized, new, and modern airline. Fiji Airways released the details of its new fleet selection, crew uniforms, airport and lounge designs in 2012 in an effort to ensure maximum visibility for the airline and the country’s tourism-based economy. By 2013, the end result was a highly successful three-year turnaround, re-fleeting, and re-branding that had transformed the airline into an internationally acclaimed, award-winning carrier with record profits.

Airbus A330 Unveiled in Rebranding of Fiji Airways

David Pflieger is a veteran of the airline industry. His current role is that of CEO and board member of Hawaii Island Air. Dave Pflieger’s aviation experience dates back to his time in the U.S. Air Force where he served as a B-52 bomber Instructor Pilot.  One of his more notable achievements was his role in the rebranding of Air Pacific to “Fiji Airways” and adopting the Airbus A330 as its new flagship aircraft.

Among the Airbus A330’s distinguishing features are its state-of-the-art design, fuel efficiency, luxurious cabin and aesthetically pleasing appearance. The interior was designed with a wider than average girth to accommodate between 250 and 300 passengers.

The Airbus A330 is also more fuel efficient, presenting a contrast to the airline’s previous aircraft models and bringing a modern quality to the newly rebranded airline. The plane owes its tail design to the Fijian artist, Makereta Matemosi. The design includes traditional Fijian symbols for connection, caring, and welcome.

Why Research is Important in Rebranding a Company

Airline veteran David “Dave” Pflieger joined Air Pacific, Ltd. as CEO in May 2010. During his three-year tenure, Dave Pflieger rebranded Air Pacific to Fiji Airways, which resulted in significant improvement to the company’s financial standing.

With time comes change, and in business, this sometimes includes a rebrand. Rebranding is more than the creation of a new logo; it includes establishing fresh company goals, culture, and message. A rebrand should effectively influence a consumer’s overall perception about a company and its products and services. Additionally, a rebranding campaign should make a company’s brand relevant and answer the needs of its target demographic.

Before undergoing a rebrand, a company should dedicate time and resources to research. An important element, research takes into account how a company is performing in its own industry and how it matches up to successful enterprises outside its sector. Analyzing approaches to marketing and operations, as well as to other areas of business, a company can discern the relevance of its offerings and how it is viewed by consumers to determine steps for moving forward.

For example, Seattle’s Best Coffee learned through research that its industry was saturated with competitor products that were not connecting with consumers due to the elaborate use of names and inaccessibility. As a result, the manufacturer rebranded itself to be a premium coffee supplier that was simple to understand. Today, Seattle’s Best Coffee partners with Subway franchises, movie theaters, and other brands outside its sector to provide convenience for consumers. The logo was also updated to promote fun and optimism, as research showed customers are drawn more toward whimsical brands.