A brand well on the move - literally

June 26, 2013

While there has been a lot of hype about the Citibike NYC bike-sharing program, especially around its many false starts, the program has been up and running and in full gear as of June 2, 2013. As is typical with anything new that represents change or is out of our comfort zone, one half of New Yorkers were in favor the program and the other half found every reason under the sun why it would be bad for NYC.

After just a month, independent reports state the launch has been a huge success with over 10,000 trips taken in the first week and, from what I understand, there is also a lengthy waiting list for annual memberships.

On a recent walk to meet a business associate for breakfast the other morning I experienced firsthand the Citibike program being enjoyed by people from all walks of life —business/leisure, white/blue collar, students, locals/tourists, all representing a broad spectrum of demographics, including men/women, young/old and of various ethnicities. And kudos to the woman who was transporting her terrier across town in the basket on the front of her bike. I’m not sure who was having more fun.

Some quick facts of interest about Citibike NYC:

Witnessing the Citibike program in action among the hustle and bustle of NYC streets as well as stumbling upon a bike station as I turned a corner (see image) brought a smile to my face as well as an internal exclamation of “how cool is that?” I immediately began to think about the added exposure and positive publicity for the Citi brand. This bike-share program puts the Citi brand into the hands of many who otherwise may not have had the chance to experience the brand on such a personal level.

To me, Citibike gives the Citi brand an entirely new meaning among New Yorkers. It revitalizes the Citi brand by giving it a younger, more active image as it is now a brand that supports quality of life beyond banking, lending and investing through exercise, sustainability and energy efficiency. Not to mention that the Citbike program makes the brand an integral part of the city landscape beyond typical branch buildings, ATMs, billboards, bus shelters, subways and taxi tops and yes, even Citifield.

Given the pre-launch controversy, I have to say that a bike-share program just seems like a logical fit for NYC. Adding the Citi name to this program seems to have been the right choice for Citi. I’d be curious to see if the overall perception of Citi has been impacted in just three short weeks. Personally, seeing blue bikes with the Citibike logo has resulted in immediate awareness of the Citi brand and an awareness that is further supported with positive attributes. I wonder what Citi’s plans are for investing in this brand building strategy by keeping its brand and people on the move in other cities across the country?

What are your thoughts about the Citibike program and what impact do you think it will have on the Citi brand?

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