Southwest Airlines: Why Good Messaging is Key Your Brand Image

You love Southwest Airlines or you hate them. Either way, there is little doubt that if you have flown, you know who they are.

Recently, they launched a new brand. Not simply a new logo, mind you, but a reimagined and realigned brand identity. This means great messaging that speaks to the heart of who they are, not just a spruced-up logo.

Let’s remember where they came from:


The heart icon makes a pretty killer statement that is really set apart from other airlines. Its execution is also really on point, it’s very universal – anyone; man, woman, or child can relate in some way. The sizing of the logo is also well done. It’s smaller and serves more as a punctuation. It’s there to accompany the rather nice wordmark that is refreshingly contemporary, well kerned and has enough personality to be recognizable.

While other airlines are, well, struggling, Southwest has continued to grow and is now working to expand operations overseas.  They aren’t the largest guy on the block by any measure, but they are proud, different and allow their employees lots of freedoms. I mean have you ever heard the pre-flight announcements on a Southwest flight? They are part stand up act. This focus on its uniqueness and dedication to core values is where the language that supports the new brand identity comes from.

From the Press Release:

Southwest Airlines and its partners did comprehensive research and held numerous focus groups with Employees and Customers to determine how best to create the new look. The airline heard that it was important to remain unique and to retain its personality; for these reasons, Southwest continues to use the vibrant color palate and striped tail that has long identified the carrier, while adding a modern touch, proudly displaying the Southwest name on the side of the fuselage and presenting the Heart on the aircraft belly. Southwest has had several different liveries and logos throughout its 43-year history; remaining current and relevant is critical to the sustainability and future growth of the brand.

Take a look at how it plays out in this video:

This sort of marriage of messaging and design is key to any great brand.  But this is Southwest airlines, of course they would be able to afford to get this right?!  Right?!

“A brand identity is so much bigger than one element. Yes, it’s a logo. Yes, it’s a tagline. But brand identity at its best is the marriage of marketing with practice. What your business does may not be unique, but why you do it and how you do it sets you apart from competition. Great branding articulates what this unique value in communication, both visually and in all your communications.” – Sarah Koci Scheilz, Fervor Creative Partner

We believe that every business deserves to have a great brand identity.  Any of us who own small businesses can do this.  In fact, that’s why we invented our Impact Assessment + Strategy™ at Fervor.  We saw that many small businesses and even many non-profits or companies on a mission were struggling with this.  So we put together a process to help them, and it’s working.

Applause to Southwest for doing this one well. Now let’s take heart and get busy doing this for our own businesses.