FOWA: How To Connect Your Brand to Customer Emotion

Although a very young airline, Virgin America literally came out of the gates with an strong brand in an industry where brands have been hit really hard. Self-proclaimed branding nerd Alex Hunter helped launch the airline’s brand vision in San Francisco. At the Future of Web Apps conference in Las Vegas, I spoke with him about what it took to develop it so successfully.

Travel is a surprisingly easy arena to do build a strong brand, explains Hunter. For better or worse, travel is an emotional experience. You drop someone off at the airport or are primed to see someone or say goodbye to someone. So, the chance for an emotional experience is far greater when you’re flying somewhere, he says.

Virgin America recognized this and from beginning to end, tried to make sure that the entire customer journey was positive. Examples include:

Removing physical barriers: In many cities VA representatives meet on the same side of the counter as the customer.

Refer to passengers as guests: I’ve heard flight attendants say, “Enjoy the plane.”

Engaging with the city: Before VA even had its license to fly, it started building relations with the city of San Francisco, and started calling itself San Francisco’s hometown airline.

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July 16, 2011 at 9:49 am, Mike said:

Apple seems to be a very positive “emotional” brand as well.
Sadly, a brand can elicit a negative emotion.

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July 16, 2011 at 10:21 pm, David Spark said:

That’s what branding is all about. Are you creating a positive or negative experience. And when people talk about positive brands, Apple is one of the standards branding experts look up to.

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July 17, 2011 at 12:23 pm, Mike said:

The brand must also be maintained. CocaCola trying a new recipe was either brilliant marketing, or a disaster in need of a quick back-pedal.

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