WestJet: Love thyself

[Cache – #85]

After 16 years of building a universally-respected brand, does WestJet nonetheless have a serious self-esteem problem?  Why else would they even consider excluding WestJet, or even a reference to it, from the name of their soon-to-be-launched regional airline?

I was pleased to receive a call earlier this week from the National Post‘s Scott Deveau, who has an article on the regional airline story in today’s paper (Scott was gracious enough to include a quote from yours truly).  He’d done some legwork and found several names WestJet was in the process of trademarking, as a protective measure, so they could safely pick the one they ultimately decide upon.  Those names include: Venture, Momentum, Q4Connect, Connect, Connex, Link, Breeze, Curo, Chinook, Echo, Reach, Regional and Encore.  If the chosen name were to be Venture, for example, it appears as if WestJet would call the airline simply Venture, and not WestJet Venture.

Frankly:  that would be such a huge mistake, I can’t bring myself to believe WestJet would make it.  There is simply too much brand equity in the WestJet name not to include it – in some way, shape or form – in the new moniker.  And there is evidence they’ll come to their senses and use the WestJet name after all:  as any trademark lawyer will tell you, the chances of successfully trademarking a descriptive, non-distinct word like regional or connect are slim.  But if you preface a word like regional with WestJet – as in WestJet Regional – the chances are higher that you have something distinct and trademarkable.  Like Air Canada’s regional airline, Air Canada Express. 

Another way WestJet could inject its equity into the new carrier’s name is by creating a new moniker that evokes WestJet but doesn’t actually have the word WestJet in it.  Clothing retailer American Eagle, for example, gave the name aerie (air-EE) to its new store brand for young women.  Say the two names out loud and you’ll see that aerie is derived from the amer in American and ea from Eagle.

Any thoughts on what the name should be?  WJWiJi?  Any of the names on their shortlist strike you?

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