Southwest Airlines (www.southwest.com) has celebrated over 40 years of consecutive profitability. As the largest domestic carrier in the United States, Southwest is widely recognized for having the best loyalty program of any airline, garnering top scores from U.S News and Report 2013 rankings. A major factor in this achievement has been their consistent number one rating in customer service granted by Airline Quality Ratings. In 2013, The Blake Project was selected to conduct a brand audit to determine whether the Southwest brand could be extended via licensing. This included first assessing the strength of the brand to evaluate whether it mattered enough to consumers to merit a licensing program. We then generated a universe of potential categories to extend the Southwest brand. The category pool came through a variety of methods including soliciting input from members of the organization, from key suppliers, and from competitor programs.
Using our proprietary methodology, we filtered our universe of categories to derive a qualified list. Once we had our qualified list, we assessed the size of the industry for each category and based upon conservative, moderate and aggressive scenarios, we estimated the sales that could be generated. Knowing the range of sales, we were able to calculate the potential royalties that would be earned across each scenario. From the audit, we determined that the Southwest list of categories was not only significant in market size and projected growth, but would also help Southwest connect with thousands of new consumers helping to extend the brand's presence into a variety of new channels while generating significant operating profit.