The other night I was on a Southwest Airlines flight, traveling home from a speaking engagement. While waiting to board, I noticed a sign advertising Southwest’s concept they call “transfarency.”

The sign read as follows:

Transfarency [Trans-fair-uhn-see] n.

  1. Philosophy created by Southwest Airlines in which Customers are treated honestly and fairly, and low fares actually stay low – no unexpected bag fees, change fees, or hidden fees. Created and practiced exclusively by Southwest Airlines.

Yes to low fares with nothing to hide. That’s Transfarency.

In the past, I’ve written about the concept of how changing vocabulary can help shift an attitude and even a company’s culture. But, inventing words takes the vocabulary concept to a new level. Southwest Airlines has always promised to be a low fare airline. They give away peanuts, not meals, and they are proud of it. They don’t “nickel and dime” customers with extra fees, and they’ve used that point to differentiate themselves from their competitors. And, now they invented a word to describe it, transfarency.

There is a word to describe what Southwest has done. It is portmanteaus. It is combining words and sounds from two or more other words. It can be clever, yet at the same time it can make a point. Southwest’s use of the two words, transparency and fare, align with their brand promise and is part of their customer experience.

Robitussin, the popular cough syrup came up with a campaign a few years ago to emphasize the results of using their product: “Don’t suffer the cough-equences!” That’s a successful way of defining what they want their customers to experience.

Sometimes it’s not about combining two words, but making words up. I remember the Volkswagen campaign in the 1990’s where they used two German words, fahren and vergnugen, to create fahrvergnugen (pronounced far-fair-gnu-ghen), to describe the driving experience. Roughly translated, the word means driving pleasure. That’s what VW wants every customer to experience when driving one of their cars. It’s a brand promise.

Another made up word is WBYCEIYDBO, which is actually an acronym that CarMax came up with that means, “We’ll buy your car even if you don’t buy ours.” The word or phrase emphasizes they are friendly, flexible, and easy. And, the commercials are fun. They’ve created a strong message about their version of customer experience.

There are plenty of examples that can be found with a little Internet research. The point of all of this is to get you to think of an interesting, and even fun, way to describe what you do for your customers and what you want them to experience.