As many of you may have noticed Southwest Airlines has debuted their new livery colors in an effort to launch a re-branding. Southwest which was established in 1971 has risen from a lowly inter Texas carrier to a domestic giant serving 93 destinations in 40 states. The airline operates more than 3,600 flights a day, transporting more than 100 million customers a year with the help of 45,000 employees. While other airlines have suffered bankruptcies and layoffs, Southwest has remained profitable for 41 consecutive years, which is remarkable considering the recent economic downturn other airlines failed to handle. With the near completion of the Airtran integration there was a need for a new look to reinvigorate the passengers and the workforce. I have to say I enjoy the paint scheme and am excited to see what Southwest has in store for the future.
In recent years the airline has seems to some (myself) rather stale and less appealing than when their fuel hedging strategy enabled them to keep ticket price well below competitors. Front line employees have seemed less enthusiastic, the upbeat attitude had become a given when flying on Southwest. Rarely now do I fly Southwest and the on-board crew make the safety briefing unique or crack a joke or two before takeoff. With other airlines you didn’t expect that something extra from the employees, many times you can actively see they aren’t enjoying the work, but with Southwest it was always an adventure. I have always loved the freedom Southwest gave their employees to express themselves and make traveling slightly less grueling than it has to be. Their employees are an important component to the brand and due to the longevity of the AirTran merger and labor relation issues some of that enthusiasm has decreased from the employees, which in turn effects the passengers.
So how does Southwest combat this? A re-branding of course or in their words “a bold new look”. The paint re-do is part of a much larger overhaul, including airport remodeling, new uniforms, a new logo and such. The aircraft color is still canyon blue and canary yellow with some red to boot. A nice new touch is the heart logo on the underbelly. The old colors were feeling a bit stale, like a great car that had been parked in the sun for to many years and the paint had started to fade. What I also like is they have removed the small lettering of “Southwest” on the tail and plastered it in big bold letters on the side of the fuselage. It projects boldness and a confidence that the old livery scheme didn’t posses. The colors seem to pop more but in a subtle way that isn’t offending to your eyes. From a marketing standpoint having the website address on the engine cowling is also a good touch. For an airline in the midst of a transition, a brightening up of the aircraft is a good start. It doesn’t alarm any of the employees and I think it will elicit a positive reaction from most passengers.
In a press release issued by chairman and CEO Gary Kelly, he explained the linkage between Southwest’s new look and big events happening this year – launch of international service, the end of the Wright amendment, installation of a new international reservation system, as well as previous changes the fleet and frequent flier program. With the integration of Airtran almost complete I think many employees will breathe a sigh of relief. Its has been almost four years since the deals was first announced and many employees were concerned about how their position would be effected. With the re-brand I think Southwest is looking to raise the bar on themselves to put forth a new, more professional persona while still holding onto the its past as an airline that cares deeply for its employees and passengers.
We would like to know how our readers feel about this? Have you had any recent Southwest experiences good or bad? Do you think they should stay how they are? Should they make any changes to their boarding process? Anything related to Southwest we at tripchi would love to hear about. The re-brading of a major company is no easy task but we think Southwest has taken a solid first step.