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Dot Your Eyes

We spotted a hot branding idea.

Just because you're serving business professionals, don't think you have to be conservative and boring.

Before

When Penny Pritzker, 42, launched the Parking Spot in 1998, the off-airport parking market was highly fragmented and no competitor claimed a stronghold. The firm's goal was to consolidate the industry and woo frequent business travelers with consistent and reliable service.

During

The original logo, plastered on the company's shuttle buses, reflected a ho-hum image-a silver background with a "P" centered on a yield sign. The issue? The Parking Spot's buses looked just like the buses of their myriad parking competitors. The Parking Spot was ready to go bold. After all, "the biggest idea is usually the scariest," proclaims Mark Wildman, the company's vice president of marketing. In 2000, the Parking Spot unveiled a new design: black spots of different sizes dancing against a vibrant yellow background.

After

The results are astounding: Revenues at facilities open at least one year are up 40 percent. And customers couldn't forget the dotted shuttle they rode in on. Although the redesign was a drastic change, it didn't detour from the brand's customer service roots. The secret was to demonstrate that the company could be tongue-in-cheek, yet still take seriously the job of transporting customers to the airport. Slogans plastered across the buses blare, "Think this looks ridiculous? Try missing your flight." Or, "If you have a spotty memory, this oughta help." Extra service touches such as bottled water upon disembarking, complimentary copies of USA Today, free car battery jumps and direct car-to-terminal service deliver on the brand promise. Sometimes bold and brash really does hit the spot.


Elizabeth J. Goodgold is CEO/chief nuancer of The Nuancing Group, a brand consulting firm in San Diego, and author of the monthly newsletter Duh! Marketing.

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This article was originally published in the February 2002 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Dot Your Eyes.

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