The Jackass or Not?
The following happened somewhere in the vicinity of 1 year ago.
I was driving through North Central Ohio on a nice summer day. Wind in my hair,
Backstreet Boys Lil Wayne bumping, all that stuff… When what should emerge in front of me on the road? Why its a pickup truck loudly branded with the logo of a local realtor. Not only a local realty company mind you but a local realtor who has featured HIMSELF as the brand… on the side of his truck. I mean, we’re talking about one of those guys who puts his mugshot everywhere he can. And here’s the kicker. Are you ready for it? Here we go: Whoever was driving it was in full-on asshole mode. Not the kind where you get the feeling they're on their way to the hospital to have a baby. No, the kind where they believe they are king of the road and you’re just lucky to be a witness to it. And we Ohioans are weary of being witnesses, believe me.
Now I actually thought of not telling the story because I can no longer remember the details of what made it such interesting asshole driving. Who wants to read about a sucky driver when you can't even remember any of the Smoky and the Bandit-esque details, right? Then I was thunderstruck this morning with the realization that THAT is the message to tell you: I can't remember the experience all that well, it’s just one of those consolidated memories you carry around with you… What I do remember and will take with me forever is the logo on the side of the truck and the local realtor who was forever branded in my mind by professional-grade, jolly jackass driving techniques.
So, let's recap. The message on the side of the truck read something like: ‘Hi I’m Jon Doe, I can afford to have a pickup truck custom painted. Also, I’m a good looking guy so here’s my face to boot. Further, I can afford a plush truck payment, which means I am reliable and can get things done. So you should list your house with me and/or buy one from me!’ Great message, bring on the 50’s ranch. On the other hand, whoever was driving the company pickup truck, be it the person themselves, an employee or family member, essentially was saying this through a blowhorn on behalf of the realtor: 'Hi I'm Jon Doe. I don’t care what you think about me or my company and to show you that, I’m going to drive like Grand Theft Auto and to hell with your family and your safety. To sum it all up, enjoy the view of my dual middle finger salute and have a super swell day bitches!'
Look, you may be wondering why I'm not naming the realtor in question. Fact is, I don't know him personally, indeed a d-baggish employee or family member could have been driving the pickup. Hell, maybe his son or daughter just got their license and grabbed the truck without him even knowing. So I don’t know the situation and it may have never happened again…
Nevertheless though, Jon Doe the realtor has a problem. His market is a relatively small town and I thought it through more than most people would: Most people would just assume it’s him driving. And that’s really bad because people make split second decisions all the time, and anyone who saw the guy and didn’t think it through would never consider taking their business to him.
So here are some tips to follow if you’re thinking of making yourself into the visible brand when your driving around town bumping.
Jackass Avoidance Tips
· Tip 1: Look, don't stick your brand or picture on a vehicle unless you plan on driving like you're taking the Queen and her purple hat wearing friends out to the early bird special. I'm not claiming driver sainthood, I'm just claiming I'm not going to put my marketing message on my damn vehicle unless I'm going to drive like I have a halo over my car.
· Tip 2: And even if you do vow to drive like a saint and consequently put your branding on your Hummer... don't ever, ever ever EVER let anyone drive it who will not uphold the message you want to convey to prospects and customers. Because the second that vehicle is seen swerving after leaving a bar at 3 in the afternoon... who knows... your brand could be tarnished. All anyone sees is YOU drunk, even if it's someone else driving the vehicle.
· Tip 3: If you are in an edgy business of some sort, some of this may not apply to you. For instance if you are selling energy drinks, then it's better you look awake when you drive... Still, there is a colossal difference between looking awake and peppy, and driving like a living middle finger.
What do you think? Am I being too judgmental or am I right?