I couldn't help noticing the effectiveness of Southwest Airline's most recent series of commercials. They hammer a very simple, appealing message: "Ya know all those rinky-dink charges other airlines tag you with for an extra bag or calling to reserve a flight? Well, we don't do that."
Southwest has always been a powerful marketer. Not because of the cleverness of their ads, which have historically been pretty effective, but because they understand simple, powerful value propositions. In an industry where customer satisfaction is ungodly low and where you seem to get zapped with a "privilege" fee for breathing their recirculated air (don't they realize it's a privilege that we ride on their plane?), Southwest has been consistent, clear and powerful in what they offer the traveling consumer.
Southwest has always been a market-leader in the low-fare category. But I suspect they will begin to capture additional market share during these tough economic times. They, like many other companies who don't panic and maintain a strong, simple value to the customer, have many opportunities to shine during economic downturns.
However, Southwest doesn't have to tout price cuts in this scenario. The simple value proposition of not making customers feel screwed can be a powerful proposition. It's one many banks should heed.