A Tale of Two Mustaches

As a startup, one of the things you have to do is name your product. You have to give it an identity. Something others can interpret and get meaning from.

While you’ll work to control the message around your product and brand, it will ultimately get away from you and take on a life of its own.

Because it is November, I offer two stories about brands that use a mustache as their moniker.

Movember

movember colin.jpgPopular culture has latched onto the idea of mustaches in November. It’s fun. It’s hip. It’s cool. It’s Movember!

But somehow lost in this groundswell of hipster realness is the fact that Movember is less about a month dedicated to humorous Facebook photos and more about promoting worldwide awareness for men’s health issues.

Don’t get me wrong, many people, including my friends, “grow their mo” to benefit charity.

But my highly unscientific polling of acquaintances and strangers reveals that many more have no idea why November seems to be the month when people pay tribute to 1970’s Burt Reynolds.

The problem is they take these mustaches at face value and fail to recognize there might be a reason to ask about what’s happening.

I believe the Movember Foundation is creating a world-wide movement for mustaches to be the vehicle for building awareness. But I also believe that the idea of mustaches in November can’t be fully owned or defined in all contexts as a brand.

Lyft

lyft stache.jpgNot every city can be New York City with a yellow taxi on every corner at all hours of the day and night. And in some cities, like San Francisco, the demand for taxis far outstrips the supply.

To fill this gap in the market, several startup companies are building networks for ride sharing. One such company is called Lyft. They operate in 18 markets according to their website.

In short, you use your cell phone to summon someone you’ve never met to come pick you up and take you to your destination.

Let’s be honest, that sounds totally sketchy. And this is precisely why Lyft identifies all drivers in its network with a giant, pink mustache on the car. You know you’re catching the right ride when you spot the ‘stache.

Unlike a Movember mustache, it’s nearly impossible to mistake a Lyft mustache for something else.

And, more importantly, if you don’t know anything about Lyft, you’re likely to inquire about all the crazy, pink-mustache cars driving around your city.

The branding is so strong that a competitor, Uber, ran ad campaigns suggesting that consumers shave the ‘stache.

So why comb through the stories of these two mustaches? Because in a future post I’ll try to explain the meaning behind the Edthena brand identity.

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