By Ethan Lyon, Senior Writer
Southwest Airlines is not just an airline, it is “THE low-fare airline.” For Southwest, its motto gives internal direction and guidance. It serves as a practical tool for employees and executives to make decisions that are in-line with the brand.
Rallying your team around a single mission builds a cohesive brand identity that will differentiate you from your peers. It’s not just reciting “we are the low-fare airline,” that will make you “THE low-fare airline,” however. It has to be the essence of your brand. Your empolyees must know it, live it and do it. Before a flight attendant asks her manager whether she can serve chicken salad, she has remember, she works for “THE low-fare airline.” That means if chicken salad does not make them the low-fare airline, she cannot serve chicken salad.
Or, consider how Zappos lives their brand. Their motto is “Powered by Service.” How does the online shoe company know it, live it and do it? They know they deliver outstanding service as “Powered by Service” is simple, concise and memorable; they live it through interacting with brand fans on Twitter and Facebook; and they do it through 24 hour delivery and eliminating long and frustrating tele-menus.
To rally your team around a central objective, your motto has to be tangible and practical. Dan Heath discusses the importance of tangible statements in his book, Made-To-Stick. He uses the Southwest airlines example to illustrate how to rally your team around a central mission. For arguments sake, if Southwest Airlines changed their motto to “Maximize shareholder value,” do you think the stewardess would know that the chicken salad would work against the company’s mission? Probably not. It’s not tangible. Instead, the stewardess can understand and make daily decisions by asking herself, “does this make Southwest Airlines THE low-fare airline?”
Internal marketing does not just stop with a catchy motto. It is the employees that have to live the brand. Let’s look at Southwest again, but in a different light. Though they strive to be “THE low-fare airline” it is really the employees that bring out the airline’s true colors. Here is a video that illustrates SW unique and fun culture and atmosphere:
Southwest Airlines has built a culture around four words. Beyond mottos, what other ways can you guide your company? Rochester-based advertising agency, Dixon Schwabl, takes a unique approach to living creativity. For the fourth straight year Dixon Schwabl made the “Best Small Company to Work For in America” list. In 2008, it landed at number one. Why? If you walk into Dixon Schwabl you might see your account executive barreling down a slide to meet you. Yes, they build a slide in their office.
Why are slides or slogans important? By constructing a slide in the middle of their office space, Dixon Schwabl screams creativity for those working there and prospective clients. For Southwest Airlines, “THE low-fare airline” helps the stewardess decide whether or not to serve chicken salad. And the Zappos team is motivated and driven by service. They live and breathe the Zappos mission and give the brand an identity, purpose and direction.
Image by Claudio Sepulveda Geoffroy from Stock.Xchng