The Southwest Airline brand has its positives, but is lacking in the most important element.
Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share
15 October 2014
The new Southwest brand: Not enough
It’s easy to rag on airlines, so let me recognize something positive – to a point.
Southwest Airlines, as you may have seen, has rebranded with a new logo and a new look for its airplanes, and a “heart” position that says the airline cares more than the other airlines.
First, the positives. The look is different than the competition and, based on its promises of low fares and no baggage fees, Southwest may be the only airline capable of taking that “caring” position. (United’s “Friendly Skies” is no longer believable.)
In addition, we live in a time when most of us believe airlines couldn’t care less about its passengers, finding every which way to charge us a new fee and slamming us into tight spaces on the airplane itself. You could argue that the new brand is aligned with that belief.
However. All that is terrific, but the new brand is all about the airline, not about the passengers themselves. It doesn’t say who the Southwest travelers are or why they are different from other travelers.
I suppose you could say that the Southwest traveler is the one that’s cared for, but, by emphasizing what Southwest does, that brand face becomes less emotional.
Also, I’m not so sure the “heart” position really captures what travelers are feeling. We’ve taken a look at the airline industry several times over the last few years and what travelers are feeling is not the desire for the warm and fuzzy. They are angry.
If an airline tapped into that emotion, making the choice of airlines a sign of passenger revolution, that airline would have achieved the right tone and would have superseded the new Southwest brand.
So, I guess, in the end, I’m not all that complimentary of something in the airline industry. Too soft, too banal, and not enough about the angry passenger.
Guess it’s not that different after all.
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