The JetBlue Brand Index and Putting Some Skin in the Branding Game

Amy_C_-_2_144_188_c1Amy Curtis McIntyre, the founding CMO of JetBlue, and a guest speaker at last week’s Google B to B Summit in New York, unveiled a new barometer to measure the appeal of your brand. I called it the JetBlue Index in the title of the post, but to give credit where credit is due, it should be called the Curtis-McIntyre Index. Basically, this is how it works:

“If people steal your shit, your brand is in good shape”

Amy was talking about some of the things they introduced through her time with JetBlue, like inflight yoga cards and other promotional materials, and how they had to keep ordering new ones because people kept stealing them. After getting a few complaints from other top execs, she said, “Let me get this right. We produce these things to get people’s attention. People like them so much they actually steal them. And you’re telling me this is a bad thing? Give me the damn phone. I’ll order as much of this shit as people can jam in their purse.” (I probably paraphrased, but I think I got the intent right).

Advertising is all about connecting your internal message with an external audience. If you do it well, it might catch some attention. If you do it extraordinarily well, people might talk about it. If you hit it out of the park, people actually want to keep it. JetBlue hit a home run. It means people felt so strongly about the brand and the message resonated so strongly with them, they had to take it. This is the ultimate challenge. Build a brand message that people use as an indentity badge. Give them something with your brand on it that people can hold up and say, “see, this is me. This is what I’m about.”

So, taking that to the next step, as part of the BrandSense Survey conducted by Martin Lindstrom and Millward Brown, they actually asked people the brand they were most likely to get tattooed on them. This is the ultimate alignment with brand, a permanent brand badge. It’s literally putting some skin in the game.

Here were the top “tattoo” brands

Tattoo Brands – Millward Brown Brand Sense Survey

Brand

Percent

Harley Davidson

18.9

Disney

14.8

Coca-Cola

7.7

Google

6.6

Pepsi

6.1

Rolex

5.6

Nike

4.6

Adidas

3.1

Absolut Vodka

2.6

Nintendo

1.5

Okay, Harley I can understand. Even Disney. But Google? I guess it just shows how important search is to our lives. But more importantly, each of these brands says something about the people that choose to become brand advocates. They’re like personality short hand. If I have a Harley tattoo, you probably know more about me just by knowing that. Likewise with Rolex or Absolut Vodka. Personally, I wouldn’t be going out of my way to spend quality time with any of these individuals, but at least they warned my by tattooing a sign saying “I’m a dickhead” where I can see it, saving me the trouble and time of finding out for myself.

I had a friend in college who used to say he could know everything he needed to know about a person just by knowing what their favorite Beatle was (he was a John Lennon himself). Much as we all like to think we’re complex and multi-dimensional, it’s surprising how such big parts of our personalities fall so easily into common “buckets”. The first time I did a Myers-Briggs test I was a little spooked out by the whole process.

So..I asked myself. Is there a brand I feel that strongly about? Not really, but then, I’m a very complex individual. I might need two tattoos.

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