Do shiny objects mesmerize you? This one captivated me! (a branding moment!)

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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.]


The Takeaway:

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:




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Gwen Banta
Sotheby's International Realty - Los Angeles, CA

I LOVE this post. Thank you for making me thinking about branding. (And the grandchildren are precious, John!)

Nov 19, 2018 12:24 PM #1
John Henry, Florida Architect
John Henry Masterworks Design International, Inc. - Orlando, FL
Residential Architect, Luxury Custom Home Design

Gwen Banta Hi Gwen, congrats to be the first to comment! I started thinking about branding seriously only when I read Ron and Alexandra Seigel's posts on the topic.  Now I can't help notice what works and why. Thanks very much.  And also that you find the grandkids acceptable....

Nov 19, 2018 01:12 PM #2
Gabe Sanders
Real Estate of Florida specializing in Martin County Residential Homes, Condos and Land Sales - Stuart, FL
Stuart Florida Real Estate

Love the picture of the grandkids.  They could make for a branding moment.

Nov 19, 2018 03:04 PM #3
James Dray
Fathom Realty - Bentonville, AR
Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results

Morning John.

What a truly branding moment, I'm sure Ron and Alexandra Seigel, will notice it next time they fly.  

Nov 20, 2018 02:11 AM #4
John Henry, Florida Architect
John Henry Masterworks Design International, Inc. - Orlando, FL
Residential Architect, Luxury Custom Home Design

James Dray Hello James, yes, I think R/A have probably seen this.  I don't know how long Southwest has had this heart object in their planes.  Thank you.

Nov 20, 2018 03:41 AM #5
Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224

John- you reminded me of a flight we once took on Southwest. It may have been during one of the holidays. It was so fun and festive that I didn't think of the hassle that flying can be!!   Be memorable!

Nov 20, 2018 11:23 AM #6
Sally K. & David L. Hanson
EXP Realty 414-525-0563 - Brookfield, WI
WI Real Estate Agents - Luxury - Divorce

Ahhhh haaa moment...more to the symbol than initiallu meets the eye !

Nov 21, 2018 04:33 AM #7
Gene Mundt, IL/WI Mortgage Originator - FHA/VA/Conv/Jumbo/Portfolio/Refi
NMLS #216987, IL Lic. 031.0006220, WI Licensed. APMC NMLS #175656 - New Lenox, IL
708.921.6331 - 40+ yrs experience

A great message, John Henry ... your logo and marketing should elicit an emotion.  You've given me some food for thought ... thank you ...

Beautiful grandkids, grampa ... be proud!  And enjoy, of course ...



Nov 21, 2018 10:27 AM #8
Grant Schneider
Performance Development Strategies - Armonk, NY
Your Coach Helping You Create Successful Outcomes

Good morning John - you really make a compelling argument about branding.  This post really has me thinking.

Nov 28, 2018 08:12 AM #9
Patricia Feager, MBA, CRS, GRI,MRP
Selling Homes Changing Lives

John Henry - What a great invitation to figure out branding that works for you. I love how you told this tale. The next time I'm at Love's Field flying SW Airlines, in Dallas, I'm going to look for the SWA Heart. But until then, I'm going to study this topic of discussion further and make some of my own improvements for marketing. The logic sequence of events you told have been a great inspiration to me. Life is better when you're a Henry. 

Congratulations on becoming a great dad who has a handsome son who created these beautiful children!

Nov 29, 2018 06:45 PM #10
Joyce Marsh
Joyce Marsh Real Estate LLC - Daytona Beach, FL
Joyce Marsh Real Estate LLC - Luxury Real Estate

Your message is right on point, and I'm reading this at the perfect moment since I am currently working on a new logo and branding.  You've given me a lot to think about. Love the grandkids photo too...

Dec 05, 2018 01:56 PM #11
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Thanks for the nudge. Branding is something I really need to think about more seriously.

Dec 18, 2018 02:07 PM #12
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Residential Architect, Luxury Custom Home Design
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