A Branding Success, Personal and Corporate

Recently I received an email from Lynn Marie Caissie, through an organization called HAPPEN, regarding an experience she had on a flight with WestJet.  Much has been written about creating your personal brand and even more about corporate branding; the objective, to develop a “unique and influential” persona or company.  WestJet is truly a branding success story, not just because this company has successfully created their “unique” brand, but because they did it using a brand that every other business in the world would like to be recognized for, extreme customer and employee satisfaction! One of many examples of how they achieved this success is Lynn Marie’s experience:

…I have flown WestJet.  Once, on my way back to Toronto, I was taking my seat when a gentleman – very definitely a businessman – boarded.  All the agents were very pleased to see him, and were engaging him in conversation.  He was gracious, and chatted with each one individually as they became free from their boarding activities.
Throughout the flight, the pilot and co-pilot came out to speak to him, too.  He obviously was well-regarded. Towards the end of the flight, he stood at the front of the cabin, took his jacket off and rolled up his shirt sleeves.  He took the com-phone and introduced himself: Sean Durfy, President and CEO.  He started by thanking us all for flying WestJet, said a few words about the Company, its history and growth, and then announced that he’d be coming through the cabin to collect our garbage.
I can’t tell you how powerful a gesture that was.  Everyone on the plane had an opportunity to ask questions, say a few words, complain, praise.  I don’t think the gesture would have been so powerful had he not been greeted with such obvious pleasure and respect by the cabin staff…”

The message was clear to Lynn Marie,  a Human Resource Professional, as she went on to acknowledge this experience as an “effort to ensure that customer and employee satisfaction is #1 on everyone’s agenda”.

“The caring and dedicated nature of our people are what makes WestJet a different kind of airline”, says Sean Durfy, President and CEO of WestJet .  Prior to President and CEO, Sean Durfy was EVP Marketing and Sales for WestJet.  Strategy Magazine awarded him Marketer of the Year and published the following quotes;

“Until Sean [took over marketing], we had never used the commitment of our employee-owners as a differentiator between ourselves and our competitors,” says Durfy’s boss and WestJet co-founder and President/CEO Clive Beddoe. “He focused on really cementing that brand into people’s minds.”

“WestJet very cleverly created a classic challenger brand,” agrees Philippe Garneau, ECD of Toronto’s GWP Brand Engineering. “It is now hard-baked into the brand that this airline is going to give its customers a different experience at all the points that matter most – on board, at the gate, throughout.”

WestJet’s misson statement, “To enrich the lives of everyone in WestJet’s world by providing safe, friendly and affordable air travel.”

For three years in a row, WestJet has been awarded, Canada’s Most Admired Corporate Culture, by Waterstone Human Capital and the National Post.


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