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
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
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
“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