We are constantly talking to brands about providing “value” to their customers. Such an ephemeral word could mean anything when it comes to Marketing, but it could mean something much more tangible when tied to the “truth.” So what do we mean by “truth” and “value”? Truth is that soul searching word that asks a brand to look deep inside itself and honestly say what they are about, who are they, what do they believe in? And that definition of truth can be turned into value when the brand allows that truth to trickle down through all its ranks and channels to affect a customer in a positive way. Is that really possible? Can our “truth” as a brand really transform into something of real “value” to a customer in a tangible way?

Let me tell you a story of a lofty brand that went from an old low to reach new heights by a simple act of truth.

Once upon a time there was an airline that believed in “heart,” but something went wrong along the way and they didn’t show that they believed in their own hearts about having a heart. Could they change course and find their own truth again?

One day, the airline left the gate as per usual, but before take-off turned the plane around, returned to the gate and asked a woman to get off the plane immediately. The woman did not know why.

She was escorted by personnel to ground staff, where she was put on the phone with her husband. He had tried to call her, but her phone had been switched off for take-off. He called the airline to reach her with the news that their 24-year-old son had suffered a terrible head injury and was in a coma.

The woman was immediately booked on a direct flight free-of-charge to her new destination, offered a private room to collect her thoughts, a packed lunch, and her luggage was rerouted. A few days later the airline followed up to ask how her son was doing.

“Employees are empowered at Southwest to go above and beyond the call of duty and follow their hearts to make decisions that positively impact our Customers,” said a Southwest representative.

The logo of Southwest Airlines has a heart on it.

Needless to say, the story went viral providing lots of positive impressions for Southwest Airlines.

This is a case of where Marketers didn’t decide to do a planned stunt but where the brand strategy, the real “truth” of the brand, trickled from the top down to provide real value for a customer and that in turn provided real value for the brand. The strategy paid off because the brand believed in it enough to make it the fabric of their business, and the returns on it were priceless.

Lessons learned for brand strategy

  • Look inside and find your truth
  • Once identified, be sure to apply it to your business above and beyond just marketing “the message”
  • Actions speak louder than words
  • If you’ve lost your way, you can find it again
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