Have you thought about brand positioning lately? I think about it quite a bit, likely because I’m a content creator and branding is on my clients’ minds.
Ivan Levison, the Bay Area’s king of direct mail, has thought about it too. In a terrific short article from May 2017, he presents a Southwest Airlines mini case study that gets right to the heart of the matter.
Anyone who has ever flown Southwest is familiar with what Mr. Levison refers to as “a bit of a Hobbesian state of ‘all against all’” when it comes time to find a seat on the aircraft. And he comments about how an old Southwest commercial—which I’m unable to find TV—cleverly turns the lack of reserved seats into a benefit.
Here’s the scenario: Billy spends his early life in a high chair, placed there by his loving mother. At school, his teacher creates a seating chart, and he gets plugged into the seat he’ll keep for the rest of the school year. Later on, he goes to work, and his boss points him toward an unoccupied desk. And so it goes. Billy sits where he’s told.
Mr. Levison points out that Southwest transformed the “free-for-all scramble . . . into a liberating expression of individual freedom.” Billy no longer has to go where he’s told. He can now choose.
In essence, Southwest found a clever way to counter travelers’ consternation at contending for seats by making the effort an expression of personal liberty and maybe even a little bit fun. And Mr. Levison astutely notes that this kind of marketing sleight of hand is something any company can use to build its business. His article calls to mind the old Avis ad, which I present as a bonus at the bottom of this post.
Have you got any examples of brand positioning where an organization has been able to turn a problem into a pot of gold?