Southwest Airlines better be careful. They have been a great example of how the best way to build a brand is with product advertising. They are now on the road to proving how the best way to kill a brand is with "branding."
Here we have an airline that offers the worst flying experience in the nation. But they haven't wasted their money trying to make us love them. Instead, they have wisely spent their money getting us to fly them.
They have given us specific, concrete reasons to fly with them: lower fares, more flights, more convenient destinations. As a result, they have actually built a meaningful brand—a brand that stands for something concrete and discernible—while United and American, et al, with all their "brand" advertising, stand for nothing.
But lately Southwest's advertising has the smell of "branding" all over it. They are trying to change our attitudes about them. Good luck. Here's a tip for the head marketing honcho: No one gives a shit which airline they fly. They fly the one with the best price at the best time. End of story.
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