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Avail Discovery:
An American Tour

TELLING A STORY OF FREEDOM AND MOBILITY  DURING LOCK-DOWN

In 2019, Avail was a company called Drift.  When I came onboard, the company mission was to compete with legacy car rental companies like Hertz, and newcomers like TURO.  We needed an emotional proposition – something intrinsic to American life:  freedom.  The allure and adventure of mobility itself. 

Creative Direction

Discovery
Brand Strategy
Positioning
Photography
Campaign
Activation

Spring 2019

GREAT AMERICAN PHOTOGRAPHERS

As I laid the groundwork for our brand strategy and identity systems, I immersed myself in great American photographers, old and new.  I surrounded our work environment with photography by William Eggleston, David Campany, Fred Herzog, Stephen Shore, and contemporary tributes like Benjamin Dodd.  I hoped that these raw, romanticized snapshots of America in its heyday of mobility would set a tone in our workspace, and bleed into the brand pillars and aesthetics.

Real.Man.2.jpg

Winter 2019

CHICAGO: PRE-PANDEMIC
 

In the world of brand and marketing, we very often find ourselves designing products for San Franciscans and Californians first.  Before I took on this role, I had seen very little of America.  Chicago is a great city.  Like my home town of San Francisco, old neighborhoods are pressed up against new.  I was just starting to see what the audience looked like beyond my own backyard.

Alone.2.jpg

Spring 2020

SAN FRANCISCO: LOCK-DOWN

 

After a year of Discovery and launching this brand, March 2020 seemed full of possibilities.  Suddenly, we went from building a company to being in a movie in a matter of days.

 

But, I had built some safeguards into our brand strategy:  Avail was always meant to bring people together — to help loved ones traverse the great distances between them. 

 

To combat loneliness. I had come to the company as a Creative Director making the case for a brand pointed squarely at an "Age of Loneliness", and I was met with resistance.  In 2020, the rubber met the road on this ethos.   

Behind.T.S.1.jpg

Spring 2021

PACIFIC COAST HIGHWAY: RE-OPENING

By the time lock–down had started to lighten up, our brand ID and collateral were well in place, but we had no real direction for campaigns.  Our brand had successfully  evolved to being about "place" rather than cars.  So, I went into the field — Central LA and along the PCH — taking test shots up and down the coast, using some early signage to build brand equity and create proof–of–concept ads.

“Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me...“

Avail bug

Fall 2021

SAN FRANCISCO HQ

 

With the brand deployed, we turned our attention to marketing, advertising, and team-building.  The best recruitment tool I have at my disposal is space — the way space speaks to a culture, and supports a brand. 

 

In the SF HQ, everywhere you look there are reminders of the mission: a celebration not of cars, but of American Mobility –— a privilege as much as a right. 

 

The ability to live in, and see all of this big, beautiful country.  This is the brand essence that I want to be top-of-mind for every team member, on the creative side or not. 

 

In 2019, we had everything to gain with this business, and 2020 proved that many of our most taken-for-granted pastimes were fragile.  But now with a return to work, everything is ahead of us again, or as Jack Kerouac would say, “Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road.”

“Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so
on the road.”

— JACK KEROUAC, ON THE ROAD

Summation

AMERICAN MOBILITY

Travel was the discovery that clarified this brand story for me.  Seeing cities I would never have gone to otherwise — meeting the people who would really decide what our brand means — brought me closer to the heart of our business. 

I came to think that freedom of movement is a yardstick of civilization, and America has a lot of room to move.  Building a brand that is more about the destination than the means of transportation put Avail in a unique position to create great emotional value — to shift the focus away from the ubiquity of car-sharing to a brand about people and places, not things.  

We let the audience — their hometowns, their dream destinations, their experiences, their journeys with and to loved ones — mold us, and not the other way around.  Our campaigns are dialogues, not one–way pitches. 

 

We make bold emotional promises and let our functional propositions and tech take a back-seat to brand voice, story, and feeling.  We created a tribe rather than a service, and for that I think we will see richer, sincere customer relationships, and prolonged returns. 

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