Those involved with aviation services and product manufacturing pride themselves on providing flawless products that perform to the highest of specifications. In their eyes, the functionality and reliability of their products define their brand promise. However, looking through the perspective of the purchaser reveals a different picture.
As the purchaser, the product’s true “reason to be” is revealed by looking past the distractions of technology and engineering, and instead looking through to the core reason the product was invented. Each product was created to help the customer solve a problem, or make their life simpler, safer or more efficient.
People-to-people aviation marketers understand that the inspiration of the product’s development greatly attributes to the feel of the brand story. This can be the point of differentiation that is remembered by the customer, and thus gains the potential to be passed onto their circle of friends.
Competitive advantages gained through functionality are short lived. Telling the brand story through the perspective of the designer, engineer, or service representative brings emotion and recall to the brand story.
As I write this, I am currently waiting on a Southwest Airlines flight to LAX. It is the first flight out for the day, and the airport is packed with college students and families trying to squeeze in vacation during the last weeks of summer.
The baggage check line was overburdened with strollers, car seats, and other necessities of modern day family travel. The kiosk attendant was hefting big suitcases with a smile on her face. As I scanned my boarding pass, the attendant confirmed my destination and lightheartedly told me she wished she were going somewhere. I told her of my reason for travel was to assist my son move into his new apartment, but that really meant I was going to help assemble IKEA furniture. She related to me, telling me that her last trip was with her daughter to perform the same function. She shared with me first hand knowledge about assembling the bed frame and how to do it right the first time.
I thanked her for the insight and continued onto the security line check-in. Thirty minutes later, I arrived at the gate with a good attitude, ready for the journey ahead. Traveling on Southwest can be challenging under high load conditions. However, the baggage attendant articulated, and thus emphasized, SWA’s brand promise by sharing her experience in an effort to make my life a little easier.
An empty airline seat is a commodity that instantly loses value when it leaves the ground. SWA does an excellent job of communicating their brand story through their employees, ensuring that when I need to travel again, their airline will be one of the first considered.