What’s Your Brand Personality?

I’ve noticed more and more that the competitors in most industries are nearly indistinguishable. I honestly can’t tell you the last place I filled up my car with gas, the last brand of cheese I purchased, or the brand of my wireless router. From credit card companies to soft drinks to mutual funds, so many products and services are swimming in a sea of sameness.

Those that try to appeal to everyone end up delighting no one. What’s the point of going to market if you can’t stand for something? Most brands are like needy teenagers, desperately trying to blend in with the crowd. In turn, we care little about the companies we support and often make decisions based on who has the best deal-of-the-day since true differentiation is nonexistent.

And then there’s Kulula Airlines, a South African discount flight provider. In an industry where even the peanuts are identical from carrier to carrier, Kulula stands out with a personality cleverer than Conan O’Brien. Check out some pictures of their planes:

Plane 1

Plane 2

Plane 3

How fun, right? But it isn’t just about paint – their edgy brand personality permeates the entire organization. For example, here are some actual comments heard over the PA system on Kulula flights:

“Thank you for flying Kulula. We hope you enjoyed giving us the business as much as we enjoyed taking you for a ride.”

And from the pilot during his welcome message: “Kulula Airlines is pleased to announce that we have some of the best flight attendants in the industry. Unfortunately, none of them are on this flight!”

After an extremely hard landing, the Flight Attendant said, “Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to The Mother City. Please remain in your seats with your seat belts fastened while the Captain taxis what’s left of our airplane to the gate!”

Part of a flight attendant’s arrival announcement: “We’d like to thank you folks for flying with us today. And, the next time you get the insane urge to go blasting through the skies in a pressurized metal tube, we hope you’ll think of Kulula Airways.”

“Ladies and gentlemen, if you wish to smoke, the smoking section on this airplane is on the wing. If you can light ’em, you can smoke ’em.”

To Kulula, this stuff isn’t just marketing hyperbole. It’s WHO they are. It is their culture and personality; an authentic message about having fun and not taking themselves too seriously. And as a result, they stand apart from all the other nameless, faceless airlines. They dared to be different. They let their creativity shine. Their imagination is viewed as jet fuel to success rather than a liability that must be controlled.

What’s your brand personality? The world has become too competitive not to have something that’s worth talking about. If you or your company has the personality of a pet rock, it’s time to shake things up.  If you don’t, your competitors surely will.

Question of the week: If you could change five things about your brand, messaging (both internal and external), positioning, or approach… what would you do differently?

Bonus question: Can you really afford not to make these changes?

Read More

New Thinking for the New Era of Business

Albert Einstein famously noted, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking that we used when we created them.” In our post-COVID world of ...

When an Astronaut Needs a Pen

Ever get stuck on a problem, only to realize you're solving for the wrong thing? That's exactly what happened when the rocket scientists at NASA ...

How Shake Shack Drives Innovation

Do you prefer the crispy mozzarella, tempura watercress, and black garlic mayonnaise cheeseburger or the pumpkin mustard, bacon, cranberries, and sage hot dog? For something ...

Lady Gaga’s Secret to Creativity

Just before she won the Academy Award for Best Original Song, I watched Lady Gaga dazzle the live audience with a pitch perfect performance of ...

Creativity: Does Size Matter?

For some reason, we’ve been taught that for creativity and innovation to count they need to have a magnitude the size of the 1989 San ...

The Lexicon of Creativity

There’s more confusion around the meaning of the word innovation than the chaos at the airline ticket counter after a cancelled flight. Is there a difference between ...

The Brain Science of Becoming More Creative

When we hear stories about iconic leaders like Salesforce.com’s founder Marc Benioff, or widely celebrated virtuosos like Lin-Manuel Miranda for that matter, we immediately think ...

Correct the Overcorrect

When the misguided leaders at Enron, Tyco and Worldcom committed fraud and marred their shareholders with huge losses, the Securities and Exchange Commission rightfully swooped ...

Learning to Color

Fact: Creativity has become the most needed skill in business. It’s gone from a nice-to-have to becoming mission-critical. Fact: Creativity is a learnable skill. All humans have ...