Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Pepsi's breathtaking makeover is reporting that Pepsi has chosen a new logo. Another win for the branding industry, which the cynics at Gawker say "exists for the sole purpose of allowing graphic design majors to soak clueless corporate behemoths out of millions of dollars for what amounts to a few tweaks of a computer design template."

Why don't you decide if Pepsi is getting its money's worth? Above is the old (currrent) logo, below is the alleged new logo.

Adopting a new logo can cost an international brand hundreds of millions, as designers make over the company stationery, merchandise, trucks, billboards, ads, labels and so on. Was it worth it? Or should management have known better?

And is it just me, or does that bulging new swirl seem somehow... familiar?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Singin’ the Jet Blues

Passengers are sitting onboard JetBlue flight 644 in San Francisco waiting to leave the gate when the captain comes on the PA system. "Bad news, folks, there's weather in the New York area today. Practically shut down Kennedy earlier. We're looking at a delay of three or four hours."

The passengers deplane and wait. They're American air travelers. They're used to being treated like cattle. But not by JetBlue, which started life as the low-fare airline with the big heart.
Then came the kicker. Waiting passengers start mumbling, "It's not true. Kennedy was shut down for all of ten minutes, but it is accepting flights now. Just not from JetBlue, because their operations ran late. It's their own fault that we can't fly."

"Delta and Virgin America flights just left for JFK."
"This happens to me every time I fly JetBlue."
Passenger Mark Hurst, who blogs on the customer experience at, checks New York weather on his iPhone: Sunny and clear.

In the end, the flight was cancelled. 152 passengers were invited to stand in line to rebook their flights with two JetBlue gatereps.

What a way to run an airline. Founder and former CEO David Neeleman (who also helped launch a Canadian upstart called WestJet), originally described JetBlue’s mission as "bringing humanity back to air travel." But Neeleman left earlier this year to start a new airline in Brazil, and JetBlue's new management seems to be following a different flightpath.

The airline that boldly encouraged its passengers to “use the call button” now charges $7 for a pillow and blanket package, and $30 for extended legroom. Oh, the humanity!

Today, America’s low-cost airline hero calls itself a “value” airline, and focuses on a nonsense slogan, “Happy Jetting.” Its branding is muddled, and its service has suffered. And now it’s lying to passengers.

Rule 1: Never try to deceive your customers. It’s a dirty business. And you can't get away with it. (Today’s business travellers, armed with WIFI-equipped laptops and Blackberries and iPhones, have better access to information than the Pentagon. They’ll catch you out, as they did JetBlue. And they won't be happy.)

Mark Hurst, who wrote the Flight 640 story on his blog, says that angry passengers at SFO mobbed the gate desk before the sullen gate reps restored order. There was yelling and cursing and promises never to fly JetBlue again. Such vows are rarely kept, because consumers don't have much choice; but you can bet these angry flyers will avoid travelling JetBlue whenever they can.

They can understand delays and problems. They will cut some slack for a discount airline that saves them money. But they won't forget being lied to.

As recently as June 17, 2008, JetBlue was ranked 'Highest in Customer Satisfaction Among Low Cost Carriers in North America' by J.D. Power and Associates. But Hurst, who finally reached New York two days late, says he believes, “JetBlue is sick.”

As he wrote, “Let this be a reminder to anyone at a customer-focused company: customer experience isn't a one-time thing. It requires constant, constant, constant focus on the basics. A slick ad campaign counts for next to nothing, unless it describes the benefits of the customer experience...

“Meeting the basic, key unmet needs of the customers in your niche is everything. Do it today, do it tomorrow, do it every single day of your operations, and then (and only then) you'll have a good chance to succeed as a customer-focused firm.”