What do car dealerships have to do with your branding?
I'm a little resistant to change when it doesn't absolutely need to happen. I like to wait for a sign and know without a doubt that it's the right next move.
So several months ago, my husband started hinting that it was time to replace my car.
Then he slowly introduced the idea of test driving different vehicles.
Then the next thing you know, we were popping into a different car dealership every weekend. (He's a sly one, that smart husband of mine...)
So, how does our car search relate to branding?
Well, what do you envision when you think of a car dealership?
I think sleazy sales people all up in my grill trying every trick in the book to sell me something before I walk out the door... like the salesman dad in Matilda.
Here's the play by play of what actually happened at each dealership:
Dealership 1: What's your name again?
Response time (it took for a sales person to be by our side): 34 seconds
We told the sales person what we were looking for. He let us check out the vehicle and test drive it. He gave us his card, and we went on our way.
All in all: A pretty standard but totally forgettable experience.
Dealership 2: The mac of computers.
Response time: 16 seconds
The sales person introduced himself, shook our hands, and asked us what we were looking for.
We told him our spiel. We were just looking, test driving a few different vehicles, not in the market to buy yet, and my requirements: I wanted to sit up higher than a car, but also be able to reach the top of the vehicle to put my own paddle board on.
He took us to the vehicle we had in mind and related each feature to how it would benefit our family:
"This lever in the trunk automatically flips the back seats down so it's easy for you to create more room for your paddle board gear and pup.
The roof rack has cross bars built in so it's ready to go for your paddle board.
The driver seat has a pump lever to raise it up as high as you want."
After we test drove the vehicle, the salesman took us inside the dealership and said:
"Listen. We don't run specials, and we don't work on commission like most car dealerships.
We believe in our product. We stand behind our product.
We are a family here. You have a problem. It's covered.
If you decide to go with a [insert brand name] we'd love for you to buy from us when you're ready."
All in all: I walked away already sold on their brand because of their mission and beliefs.
I told Taylor with heart eyes, "They are the mac of computers. Once you're in, you're in for life. Now THAT is a brand, baby!" (I will forever get fired-up and nerdy about branding.)
Dealership 3: Over eager meets information overload.
Response time: we barely had our car parked...
You know that vision I had of a sleazy sales person pushing you to BUY NOW? Well, that was exactly the experience we had at car dealership 3.
From the moment we parked our car to the moment we finally walked out the door, there was a sales person all up in our grill talking so much I couldn't even hear my own thoughts.
She had us walk around the car with her while she listed off every single little feature the car had, which was totally overwhelming and, being a pretty minimal person, totally turned me off.
Then, when we finally took it on a test drive, she had us pull into a parking lot to pop the hood and continued to show us every feature under there...
(I started getting hangry at this point. God bless my kind husband who took over, while I hung back and worked really hard to kept my mouth shut.)
Every time we reminded her that we we're just looking and still in the phase of picking which brand we even wanted, she would respond with:
"Well, you just wait! We might make you an offer you can't refuse! You'll walk out of here with this car today!"
All in all: She didn't care about who we were, what we needed, or what would work best for our family. I couldn't wait to get as far away from that place as possible, and I will never buy from their brand because of the way they do things and what they value: sales over people.
The Lesson: Strive to be Car Dealership 2.
Don't be afraid to take a stand and be different!
Set yourself apart.
Say things like:
"Here’s why I'm different..."
"Here’s what I'm all about..."
"Here's how what I do will impact your life / business..."
"I am not willing to compromise on my values..."
"I'm here when you're ready..."
When you tell people what your brand stands for, who you are, and what you believe in, that's when a true connection is made — one that lasts a lifetime.
And in case you were wondering...
A few weeks later, we traded in my beloved, but aging baby for a (new-to-me) used car from that second brand who gave me heart eyes.
It pays (literally) to take a stand in your brand, share your beliefs, and explain why you do things differently.
So, how can you start adjusting your brand to be more like Car Dealership 2?
Cheers to people and brands who dare to be different,
xo Devan Danielle