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Silvercar adds Branson-style branding spin to car rentals

Editor’s Note: I have some egg on my face, because I saw Virgin’s announcement about Silvercar and, based on what I know about Virgin’s Richard Branson, I made the assumption that he was heavily involved in the Silvercar concept.

According to responses I’ve received, I was wrong (see comments below). Despite the fact that Silvercar is not a Branson concept, I still believe it reflects his style of branding skill and takes wonderful advantage of a marketing opportunity.

A big thank you to those who commented. I’ll leave the article intact as it was originally written.

You have to admire Sir Richard Branson for his incredible branding skill. A maverick entrepreneur, he has a remarkable ability to see the holes in existing brands and find a unique and profitable way to fill them. Then he keeps that new brand clean and distinctive so the brand can shine and grow. Other companies start to let internal power plays and shareholder pressure force them into directions that ultimately hurt the company, like line extensions that always dilute the brand. Not Branson.

I was thrilled to hear about his latest venture. Silvercar, launching today, takes a whole new approach to car rentals, fixing all the stuff that drives us mad when we rent cars and doing it in a way that is stylish, cool and exciting.

Silvercar, which is currently only available in Austin and Dallas-Fort Worth, offers one vehicle model — the Audi A4. Always in silver. Always with WiFi, SiriusXM satellite radio, Bluetooth and toll tracking. No lines to deal with. No counters and hassles. You do the renting and checking in from your phone and just walk to your car. How cool is that?

Perhaps the most exciting part is that Silvercar offers a “Fair Fuel” option. This allows you to pay only for the fuel you use, at the local price rather than the absurdly over-inflated price everyone else charges.

You might think, well, Avis or Hertz or anyone else can do the same thing. Of course they could. But they won’t. Not for years. The corporate environment of giant companies makes it virtually impossible for them to respond in any reasonable time frame to these kind of strategic attacks. They’ll deal with internal politics, reviews, committees and shareholder concerns for years before any response happens. By then Silvercar will be firmly entrenched as a favorite brand for thousands of travelers.

Branson shows, once again, that there is always room for a new brand, and as always he does it in style. Congratulations. I’m looking for a new client in Austin or Dallas just so I can use Silvercar. Learn more at Silvercar.com

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George Pytlik

George Pytlik has been involved in the advertising industry for over 30 years and designed his first website when the Internet was one year old. He was an internationally recognized speaker on advertising and branding and served on a number of communication committees at various times throughout his career, as well as writing a regular column for Marketing magazine.

3 Comments
  • George Lopez
    May 16, 2013

    Silvercar is an independent car rental company based in Austin,tx and is not a Richard Branson brand.

  • Carl smith
    May 16, 2013

    You also have to admit Silvercar is not Richard Branson’s brand. Silvercar is a separate company that they partnered with, not owned by Branson. Silvercar is an independent car rental company based in Austin TX, you should get your facts straight before writing an article. Silvercar launched in Dallas in January of this year.

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