A tale of two brands – using “personality” as a branding tool.

The concept of “personality” as a tool helps your brand stand out.  If you think about a brand that you either like or dislike – what do you think is the brands signature service? What is the key selling point? What is the context that surrounds that brand social-culturally and economically? What customer needs is the brand intended to satisfy? How does the signature service corresponds to that complexity of contexts? 

Jiffy Lube – founded in the US in the 1970’s – is often labelled the“ MacDonald’s of the auto service industry”. Its signature service was a pioneering of the oil change services for cars with a focus on speed and consistent service above all. 

Not a bad idea – as long as customers value speed and convenience above everything else. But suddenly they didn’t or Jiffy Lube may had a fixated look on its own qualities, that the brand simply forgot to recognize the change in customer needs. 

With time negative word of mouth piled up; customers wants something else. A better product and a less flawed service. It seems that the single minded focus on speed made a victim of the quality of service offered. Jiffy Lube failed to address an invaluable insight of its potential customers. The simple fact that most people don’t have a clue what is going on when their car is put through service. That lack of knowledge makes them vulnerable customers. By failing to recognize that fact Jiffy Lube also failed in developing the Jiffy brand by countering that customer vulnerability. 

The US based – regional franchise – Oil Can Henry’s offers an opposite take on how you can use a better understanding of customer needs as a way of branding your product as unique and authentic. As the company name suggests OCH’s is also a chain of automotive services centers. 

The tagline of OCH’s – “The One You Can Trust” – signals the brands intent. Every interaction and service on offer is meant to correspond to this premise. Instead of having a focus on a fixed signature service like speed and convenience OCH’s has a focus on building a real relationship with its customers by answering a need for transparency and trust. 

The tool to do so is to build the whole concept of the service offered around the customer experience of being at the mechanics without really knowing what is going on. 

Getting the OCH’s treatment means that you are situated in your car monitoring the whole process on Tv-screens as the mechanic goes about his business. That offers transparency and the customers is invited to ask questions that will be addressed immediately. On the service side – coffee and the news paper are brought to you in the car. 

The experience offered at OCH’s is unique, authentic and is something that should get people talking. Simply because it’s such a different take on how the normal experience of taking your car to repair or service is rooted in people’ minds. 

Offering something Unique, being Authentic (in this case having a true intent to meet customers needs) and get people Talking are all key elements in creating a brand with a strong personality. And as the story of Jiffy Lube shows it is not enough being unique for a while. You need the two other dimensions to go with the uniqueness as well. 

Thanks for reading.

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