I have a crush on JetBlue. And before you start thinking that I belong on an episode of My Strange Addiction, let me make it clear that feeling this way is totally out of character for me. I rarely, if ever, fall under the spell of a brand. At this particular moment, JetBlue is my one and only. Though, I have been in deep like with Dyson for a while, and I am in a co-dependent type of relationship with Nespresso. But the situation with JetBlue is different. With them it’s a full-on crush.
Because I am not accustomed to attaching warm and fuzzy feelings to a brand, I decided to dig a little deeper. In February of 2012, Brand Keys, a research consultancy firm that specializes in assessing brand loyalty, released its yearly Customer Loyalty Engagement Index (CLEI). The index, which has been in existence for 16 years, measures customer loyalty and brand satisfaction for nearly 600 brands in 83 major product categories. According to articles on BrandingMagazine.com and DailyFinance.com, Brand Keys provided 49,221 consumers, who were between the ages of 18 and 65 and who hailed from the nine US Census Regions, with a survey in which they were asked to rank companies based on “…quality, level of enjoyment, ease of use, respectability and other category-specific factors.”
I was a bit surprised by some of the brands that appeared in the top-20, but not surprised at all about the reasoning behind the selections. Brand loyalty is generated by a variety of factors, the majority of which fall under the broad heading of: value. And value is often measured in ways other than price — at least it is when I am doing the buying.
As is often the case with infatuation, I developed feelings for JetBlue at first sight. Call me superficial, but back in 2002, when I first flew on JetBlue, the airline’s good looks and flashy personality were something of an anomaly in the airline industry. And I wasn’t alone when it came to immediate adoration. I’ll never forget my then six-year-old son’s words to me as we boarded our inaugural JetBlue flight. “Mom,” he said as he scrambled down the plane’s aisle turning his head rapidly from side to side so he could get a better view of the roomy leather seats, “are we flying in first class?” My response was immediate and probably should have been a clue about which direction this relationship was heading in. “On JetBlue,” I said, “everyone flies first class.”
And after 10 years of flying on JetBlue, that is still how I feel. I love the comfort of the seats, the ability to watch DirecTV in-flight and the snacks. JetBlue gives good snack. And I also love the airline’s attitude. The employees (at least the majority of the ones I have come in contact with) are fun in a snarky, but not overly snarky, way. They not only seem to enjoy what they are doing, but also seem to enjoy the company that they are doing it for.
Another reason for my crush is the fact that the clever (and very funny) folks who run JetBlue’s Twitter account regularly engage with me on that social media site. And when I am on a JetBlue plane, more often than not, the flight attendants are outgoing and very willing to take the time to answer questions or chat. The pilots — when they aren’t otherwise occupied — are also very engaging. I even had one discuss SEC football with me during a brief delay on JFK’s tarmac. (Though, he was an Auburn fan. In hindsight, I might have to subtract points for that.) And when I have had to call customer service, yup, you guessed it, the representatives I have spoken with are helpful and friendly. Again, I am not a candidate for My Secret Addiction (really I promise, I am not); I don’t go out of my way to talk to JetBlue employees — it’s just something that seems to happen organically when I fly.
Brand Keys founder and president, Robert Passikoff, said the following when talking about the 2012 CLEI: “Brand loyalty has always been primarily driven by emotional engagement, and the rankings this year make it crystal clear that connection is everything.” Based on my feelings for JetBlue, I’d say this is true.
But butterflies, rainbows and animal crackers (sometimes JetBlue serves the iced ones!) are not my be-all, end-all. The primary reason I have a crush on JetBlue? They get me, and those that I love, where we want to go — safely. And as a bonus, we usually arrive on time and with our luggage.
Do you have any brand crushes? And if so, what is it about the brand that makes your heart beat faster?
*We live in a world full of cynical people (I know, because I am one of them), so I want to be sure to add that JetBlue had absolutely nothing to do with the creation of this post. I pay to fly on JetBlue — but not to eat their animal crackers. (Not even the iced ones!)