Business Horizons (2005) 48, 535 — 545
Positioning Southwest Airlines through employee
Sandra Jeanquart Miles*, W. Glynn Mangold
Department of Management, Marketing, and Business Administration,
College of Business and Public Affairs, Murray State University, Murray, KY 42071, USA
Abstract As the field of employee branding has begun to unfold, more and more
executives have become interested in how this process can help them achieve a
competitive advantage for their organizations. This article explains how employee
branding works and how it can be utilized to position the organization in the minds of
customers, employees, and other stakeholders. A contextual analysis of its use as a
source of sustainable competitive advantage at Southwest Airlines is presented.
Finally, key success factors are identified for those who wish to make employee
branding a strategic focus within their organizations.
D 2005 Kelley School of Business, Indiana University. All rights reserved.
1. Employee branding and Southwest
Airlines: A winning combination
Employee branding as a source of strategic competitive advantage has been a basis for discussion in
recent years. While practitioners focused on the
importance of employee branding and its positive
outcomes, their discourse often lacked focus because they did not agree on the term’s definition or
its conceptualization. Clarity was added when our
2004 Journal of Relationship Marketing article
(Miles & Mangold, 2004) defined employee branding
as bthe process by which employees internalize the
T Corresponding author.
E-mail addresses: firstname.lastname@example.org (S.J. Miles)8
email@example.com (W.G. Mangold).
desired brand image and are motivated to project
the image to customers and other organizational