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Rebranding: How a Birmingham Taxi Company Is Getting in Touch with Its Millennial Customer

Birmingham’s business scene is changing. Millennials are flocking to the city, drawn to the “New South,” with its reputation for being the best-kept secret in Alabama.

And for most companies, that could be a challenge.

But Paige Coker, the vice president of Yellow Cab of Birmingham, saw it as an opportunity for reinvention. She is also a vice president of the Taxicab, Limousine & Paratransit Association.

The company has been undergoing a rebranding process since the summer of 2015, and it’s had nothing but positive feedback so far.

“I was definitely hesitant [to rebrand] until I realized we have to survive and thrive,” Coker says. “We are holding our own.”

To kick off the rebranding process, her company began polling various age groups, including a new population of professionals in the city—millennials.

One piece of feedback was received time and time again: People really want to see a different kind of car.

But the yellow cab is traditional — it’s an icon of the industry. Coker didn’t want to lose that identity, so she used a little creativity to keep the signature yellow while still listening to what customers were telling her.

Coker switched the fleet to the Sion xB — a smaller and sleeker car. The idea was well received by the drivers, too, who were pleased to cut gas costs. There were other adjustments, too. The fleet has illuminated interior lights as opposed to top lights, which not only save the company money but allow vehicles to come out of production quicker.

It wasn’t the only move away from traditionalideas for the company. Instead of promoting a telephone number — a long-time staple of cab companies — the cars promoted its app, YC on Demand.

The messaging change is part of the company’s push to engage customers with its app — a key part of serving the burgeoning millennial demographic in Birmingham. Customers, particularly the younger ones, don’t want to call — they want email or text confirmation. It’s the same desire consumers have when making dinner reservations or booking airplane tickets.

Birmingham is serving as the company’s pilot for the rebranding project, and if it continues to receive positive feedback, it could expand to the two other markets the company serves.

Though the process isn’t easy, it’s been a way for the company to hold on to its market share.

“We have an allure for new drivers and new customers,” Coker says. “And it’s keeping us as one of the choices. This is why we stay competitive.”

Posted 1/23/2017 12:22:26 PM

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