authentic Archives - Puris Consulting
Effective Personal Branding and Customer Service- Southwest Airlines Case Study

Written by Katy Goshtasbi

Posted on: July 10, 2011

Share This

I was recently with a client of mine who travels  a lot for work.  We were talking about her favorite airline and she mentioned how she loves Southwest.  As she started talking about Southwest, her entire demeanor changed- you could totally see her excitement and passion for the airline.  She was smiling and saying how much fun it was to fly again now that she had “found” Southwest. She had stumbled upon them when her preferred, major airline had left her stranded and given her no options or assistance. She had literally walked over to the Southwest counter, where they had booked her in about 5 minutes to her destination AND made her laugh.  After that, she was hooked. She gave up her zillion mile status and her first class seats- all to travel on Southwest and enjoy her constant trips.

To me, this is the perfect example of how the Southwest personal and business brands are a success.  It is all because of customer service. Southwest recently celebrated 40 years of business.  If you look at their mission statement (which my client knows by heart!)- it is a dual statement.  One part of the statement is devoted to clients and one to employees.  The client mission statement is:  “dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit.”

Southwest has literally taken this mission statement and translated it into developing a personal brand for each employee that caters to customer service built on fun and quality.  This personal brand of “fun and quality service” is what my client, as well as many other travelers, remember most about Southwest.  The personal brand is very unique and sets apart the airline from competitors.  Who wouldn’t want good service and fun these days?

As we always say here at Puris, every successful business needs a personal brand that has a unique community service platform.   In terms of personal branding, Southwest has the community service component covered well, also.  According to their website, in 2009, Southwest Airlines employees volunteered more than 45,000 hours to charities across the country. To support these passionate employee volunteers, Southwest Airlines launched the Tickets for Time program. For every 40 hours their employees volunteer for a nonprofit organization, the benefitting nonprofit organization is eligible to receive one complimentary, roundtrip ticket on Southwest Airlines for fundraising or transportation needs.

According to my client, Southwest is “well-designed, yet casual and always has fabulous service”.  On their blog Southwest says that they are in the customer service business and just happen to fly planes.  This says it all, doesn’t it?

What does this mean for your personal brand and your business brand?  Nothing resonates louder for your personal brand and that of your employees than quality customer service done only to serve and create fun and joy in the lives of your customers.  Do you and your staff enjoy servicing your clients?  Is it fun or is it difficult?  Do you all put on your game face and “pretend” to be happy or do you mean it?  We can all see through any insincerity.  It never works.  Hire staff who really like what they do for you and your clients.  I hope you are running a business that you really love, too.

My client is a perfect example of how a business traveler with many options would leave the comforts of first class, priority boarding and extra legroom for good customer service and fun.  Is your customer service fun and effective?  If so, then so is your personal and business brands.


Share This

Personal Branding Case Study: Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream

Written by Katy Goshtasbi

Posted on: May 11, 2011

Share This

A few weeks ago I was watching a biography on the founders of the successful ice cream brand, Ben & Jerry.  I think I’ve seen the show three times now. The reason is because Ben and Jerry’s story fascinates me AND serves as a perfect picture of what a quality personal brand can do for the owners of a business and for society as a whole.  Now I know you may be thinking this is just ice cream, but let me explain.

In a nutshell, Ben and Jerry began the company in 1978 with $14,000 in Vermont.  They grew the business tremendously and no longer own it.  However the in-between actions is what is text book personal branding, in my opinion.

As you watch the interview, you will see that what differentiated Ben and Jerry is that they truly seem to understand who they were as people BEFORE they launched their business.  This was key in establishing their personal brand and blending it in well with the business brand they built for Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream.   They even mentioned in their interview that they wanted to be “genuine and real” always.  Look at all the names of their ice cream flavors- they represent Ben and Jerry’s personality and personal brands. Genuine and real is all we should ever strive to be.  This attitude and behavior is what people gravitate towards.

Here at Puris, we stress community service and we build community service platforms for companies.  Throughout their ownership of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, Ben and Jerry seemed committed to supporting the local community and people of Vermont.  In fact, they even said that this was a huge part of their image within the company. Thus,  they used Vermont milk. To help the local Vermont sewage system, they supplied ice cream waste to a local pig farm.  There are many other examples of their community service.

In fact, their three part mission statement says it all- it includes a product mission, social mission and economic mission.  All of it centers around the environment and community. You can find their mission statement on their website.

So what’s in this for you as a business owner?  Remember, that your business is there to serve a purpose and to contribute a product or service to society. So often we forget we are here to serve others as business owners. This is the very reason the business fails- the personal brand is never developed: the owners never understand their reason for owning the business and contributing to society and never infuse their personality into the business.   To make matters worse, the business then sets out to “market” and develops into a poor business brand without any real values or community platform.

Instead, I encourage you to look at yourself as the owner. Do you understand how you fit into the big picture of your business? Do you understand your personal brand?  Then use your business to help your local community in real and tangible ways- regularly!  Your community will thank you and become huge supporters of your business because you care about them.  Pretty simple model- missed by most small businesses.

For the full story on Ben & Jerry, check out their website.

Share This