I have been flying Southwest for several years and have always enjoyed their humor on board and at the gate (this last trip to see grandkids they staged a paper airplane contest with a bottle of wine to the winner). Even going down the 'gangplank' there are posters of witty SW ads.
The paper airplane contest:
Four days ago I got on board and was immediately bored after I quickly leafed through their in-flight magazine. It was a 38 minute in the air flight to Ft. Lauderdale. Staring ahead blankly... I saw this mounted on the bulkhead (at right).
I don't know when they came up with this metallic heart with the three primary colors, but I couldn't help from gazing at it on and off during the entire flight. So I thought to myself, ha, their secondary message has been 'love', so this is really meaningful. Almost like a Valentine. There it was mounted out in front just above everyone's head... nothing else around it. A glimmering object in three colors, a 3-D heart, hovering on a background of gray vinyl.
Then I started thinking about how they got 'love' into their message. SouthWest is based in Dallas at Love Field. hmmm. (This 'ah-ha moment' is my second following the great professional information provided by Ron and Alexandra Seigel, which also prompted this observation.)
Southwest achieved a totally brilliant marketing and branding coup. A pendant that hypnotizes you, branding their image on your brain!! Like a shiny watch or amulet that glitters capturing your imagination. There are no letters, no inscriptions. No distractions. You just 'get it'. Amazing. Somebody needs to get an award for this.
As I ordered my free drink (for upgrading) I was handed a plastic cup and napkin. I took a sip. And then... there it was again. Another heart on the swizzle stick. There has been a marketing onslaught for years by Southwest, but this is due to high competition for customer retention in the skies.
Here is how the heart emblem looked from my seat, and come to think of it, this is how many automobile manufacturers keep their product in your mind even after you've purchased their car! The marque logo is mounted on the hood of the car (Mercedes is most memorable) and you are constantly staring through it. Often that logo is on the steering wheel center as well. If you trail any car, you know what it is because the logo is on the trunk as well. Truly genius.
[aside: as I paused halfway through this blog to go to my favorite sweet shop in Winter Park I almost fell out of my chair seeing the following reflection in a store across the street! It couldn't be! I took this snapshot after I got closer -- of a sticky label logo commemorating the horrible nightclub shooting two years ago here in Orlando. Sharon Anderson, the owner of Arabella (a very nice women's clothing and accessory shop) was kind enough to let me take it. You can see her lines on Facebook and Instagram.]
1. Logos and symbols are very important. They are a shorthand way of keeping a company or even a political party in mind. The more you see them, the more effective they are in reminding you. What they stand for stays in your thought processes. An effective branding statement means that people will tend to choose that particular brand over another. Consider trademarking or registering your logo, especially if you think it is so good it may be copied by others. Do it anyway!
2. The logo or symbol should make an emotional connection. In the case of Southwest, how can you possibly forget a heart? What a connection! There are no words attached, only the geometry and color of the symbol. Southwest's heart must be trademarked for their colors as well. Tag lines are also protected by law.
3. Logos and symbol branding should be found on all product and service literature, promotional trinkets, videos, webs, and social media. The more visible and more often viewed, the more retention in your potential buyer or user. The more likely they will think of you and contact you for your services or product.
4. Creating the graphic/design. In some cases, you will be able to find a related object that can be paired with your product/name. Shell oil has an actual seashell; Texaco had a flying horse - Pegasus - that had absolutely nothing to do with petroleum. So any recognizable object or motif can be associated with your company. If not possible or practical, you need to rely on a graphic logo which is based on the actual name of your business. In either case corporations spend millions coming up with the ultimate logo and can spend years refining it. Do a search for Coca Cola's logo and you will see changes in the script over and over. A graphic should be simple and easy to recognize. A script is dependent on font type and manipulation. Both should be professionally developed.
5. You should develop your own branding, tied in with your overall marketing and niche approach. You may wish to test an idea, like a tagline for example, to see how it works. This is something best left to professionals although you may have some great ideas from which to start a campaign. Your branding should be distinct from your competitors. It must be something easy to recall and identify.
6. Customer Satisfaction. Noting the example of the paper airplane contest, keeping your customers informed and even 'distracted' if a negative situation arises is a positive marketing tactic. By offering the customer a 'freebie' or some other discount, you come out better in the end. A negative has turned into a positive and your company gains further credibility in its ability to handle a 'crisis'. My personal belief is to constantly attend to your client's needs and keep them informed at all times.
7. The effectiveness of a successful brand is that others will be prompted to look at it. People may be amazed and show it to other people. Those who receive your promotional items will show it to their friends and colleagues if noteworthy. They may handle or use it (keychains, pens, notepads, etc.) They may give it away as a good gesture. In this case today, Southwest received free advertising here on AR due to their outstanding marketing!
And speaking of love, here are my grandkids from last weekend: