Southwest Airlines entered the airline industry in 1971 with little money, but lots of personality. Marketing itself as the LUV airline, the company featured a bright red heart as its first logo. In the 1970s, flight attendants in red-orange hot pants served Love Bites (peanuts) and Love Potions (drinks). With little money for advertising in the early days, Southwest relied on its outrageous antics to generate word-of-mouth advertising.
Later ads showcased Southwest’s low fares, frequent flights, on-time arrivals, and top safety record. Throughout all the advertising, the spirit of fun pervades. For example, one TV spot showed a small bag of peanuts with the words, ‘’This is what our meals look like a Southwest Airlines…. It’s also what our fares look like.’’ Southwest used ads with humor to poke fun at itself and to convey its personality.
Southwest’s fun spirit attracts customers and employees alike. Although Southwest doesn’t take itself seriously, it does take its work seriously. Southwest’s strategy is to be the low-cost carrier. Indeed, the strategy takes on epic proportions. An internal slogan, ‘’It’s not just a job, it’s a crusade,’’ embodies the company mission to open up the skies, to give ordinary people a chance to fly by keeping costs so low that it competes with ground transportation like cars and buses. Employees see themselves as protecting ‘’small businesses and senior citizens who count on us for low fares.’’
Southwest can offer low fares because it streamlines operations. For example, it only flies one type of aircraft, Boeing 737s, which have all been fitted with identical flight instruments. This saves time and money by simplifying training pilots, flight attendants, and mechanics only need to know procedures for a single model of Boeing 737. Management can substitute aircraft, reschedule flight crews, or transfer mechanics quickly. The tactic also saves money through lower spare-parts...