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Dress up or die

Whiplash Team. July 2018.

The recent decision of Madrid’S taxi drivers to wear a uniform to improve their image and compete in better conditions against Uber and Cabify clearly shows the importance of consumer perception and the need for industries, companies, organizations and groups to adapt to new models generated by the digital revolution and effectively communicate their purpose through their people, their products or services and their presentation to the market.

Although in April and June measures were taken to protect the taxi sector from VTC’s (vehicles with driver) growth, the association that brings together the city’s taxi drivers decided, in mid-June, to start wearing a uniform to improve their image and compete with Uber and Cabify, at least as to the personal appearance of the drivers.

The new uniformed men and women, who will wear a light blue shirt or polo shirt (short sleeves in summer and long in winter) and navy-blue pants, are the 1,200 members of the Professional Taxi Federation of Madrid that operate with the Tele taxi station.

According the Federation’s president, Julio Sanz, the measure responds to the desire of taxi drivers to offer a bonus to the service they offer today. The truth is that despite the decree that establishes a single VTC license for every 30 taxis, these vehicles, operated by platforms such as Uber or Cabify, have experienced the highest growth in frequency of use in Madrid in the last year, and taxis the least, according to ISDI’s MobilityISDIgital study.

Users have made clear their preference for a more exquisite service at a lower or comparable price, including the advantages of interacting with drivers and rating them via app. Thus, a collective, not an organization or a company, a collective, has taken the initiative to satisfy the demands of another group, the empowered consumers, in order to survive.

It is a positive step, without doubt. However, the initiative lacks the real plus: that the desire to provide a better customer-oriented service is perceived as part of the intrinsic purpose of the collective, positively influencing brand perception. Focusing this measure as an extra and not as something natural in the evolution and continuous improvement of the service, which must be an intrinsic part of its purpose, shows that this has not been internalized as part of the group’s nature.

Users are smart and have a world of information at their fingertips, they are quick at picking up inconsistencies… and at penalizing them. It is therefore essential for brands, organizations and groups to align their purpose with the wishes, needs and values of consumers and express it consistently when and wherever the brand manifests itself.