Corporate Eye

Delivering Brand Experiences the Southwest Airlines Way

southwest airlinesSouthwest Airlines has been a leader in integrating social media into its corporate culture for years. The Nuts About Southwest blog achieved notoriety years ago as a great example of employees being given the opportunity to advocate a brand. As a result, Southwest Airlines developed a well-known reputation as the “anti-big” airline. The brand is fun and more approachable than larger competitors, and that brand image is carried through both internally and externally. Just spend some time on Southwest Airlines’ social media accounts and you’ll get a feel for the brand’s personality very quickly.

With that reputation in mind, it’s not surprising to find that a recent video of a Southwest Airlines flight attendant energizing the pre-flight safety announcement with humor was recorded and went viral. Consumers who were already familiar with the Southwest Airlines brand image felt more connected to the brand. It reflected the brand experience they’ve come to expect from Southwest Airlines. For consumers who were not familiar with the Southwest Airlines brand, the video introduced them to the airline’s unique brand personality by giving them a front row seat to the real Southwest Airlines brand experience.

You can watch the video below. After you watch it, ask yourself how closely your brand image and personality are integrated into your company culture? Is the integration strong enough that employees are able to and encouraged to live that brand personality and deliver the promise of the brand in every customer interaction and brand experience? Today, brands that leverage their employees as brand advocates are at a significant advantage in the competitive marketplace. However, you can’t simply tell employees what your brand personality, image, and promise are and expect them to support the brand and live the brand promise. They need to believe in the brand enough to want to advocate it just as consumers have to believe in the brand enough to want to buy it.

Give your employees a reason to believe in your brand by developing a corporate culture that delivers the 3 Es:

  • Educates them about the brand promise, image, and personality.
  • Encourages them to live the brand promise by integrating it into your corporate culture and code of ethics.
  • Enables them to advocate the brand through online and offline interactions.

Image: Aero Icarus

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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for Entrepreneur.com and Forbes.com, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as MSNBC.com, BusinessWeek.com, TodayShow.com, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.
 
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