If you could change your story, would you? I think a lot of people would like to reinvent themselves and rewrite their lives. Author something new, fresh, daring, even adventurous.

What about your brand? I’m not talking about you as an individual. I want to know about that brand you represent: the person, product, company or cause that you are responsible for. If you could rewrite the story about your brand, or better yet, recast it in a remarkable story from the beginning, would you do it? How?

What Kind of Story Does a Parking Lot Tell You?

Picture 1Think of all of the negative images you associate with a parking lot. Hot, miserable pavement. Traffic congestion: “The freeway’s a parking lot.” Honking, impatient drivers. The loss of green spaces. Loneliness. Foreboding. The anti-park. Ok, so I threw in “foreboding” for effect. But my point is this: You have a preconceived notion – a story placed firmly in your mind’s eye – about parking lots. They’re a necessity. An eyesore. A commodity. Nothing really good or life-changing comes from a parking lot.

What if you could tell an entirely new story about a parking lot? Imagine this new parking lot as a special place. A destination. Something that actually gave back to the community. A parking lot that stands for something bigger than parking. Bigger than expensive cars. Bigger than the love affair Arizona drivers have for the vanity attached to their license plates.

A Parking Lot Doesn’t Need a Campaign. It Needs a *Movement!

What if you called it, “Parkington?” (Stop snickering and bear with me for a sec.). What if for every car you parked at Parkington, something magical would happen around the community? Something that would bring greenness and beauty to the psyche and surroundings of this desert metropolis.

TreeWhat if you put the “Park” back in parking lot?

Parkington would become a pleasurable extension of your travels, and not a miserable bookend. That you’d be as eager to park your car in Parkington as you’d be gleeful to share that fact with your traveling companions. Because at Parkington, you’re not just a parked car. You’re a person.

So what if you could change that story? What if…

  • Instead of giving out a free tree air freshener, Parkington offered you a real, live, sweet-smelling tree to plant at home?
  • Cozy park benches under shade trees, not metal bus stops, awaited shuttle riders?
  • Ice creamScrumptious ice cream bars instead of landfill-cluttering, plastic water bottles were offered on the shuttles?
  • While residents of Parkington travel, their cars are washed with all-natural waterless cleaners; no soapy buckets of toxic detergent?
  • When you return to Parkington, a “Welcome Home” mat greets you at your driver-side door (They know when you’re coming and going because you have happily made your reservation the greenest way possible: online)?
  • Every month a new mayor is named to Parkington, complete with keys to the town (I mean, lot), honoring and celebrating a frequent traveler who calls Parkington their garage-away-from-home? I think you’d tell someone if you were the honorary mayor of a parking lot, wouldn’t you?
  • Parkington worked with the Arizona Nursery Association and its Plant Something campaign to plant a thousand trees around Phoenix, one for every car that calls its lot home when it opens for the 2010 Holiday travel season?
  • A car-offset program was created by Parkington that extended biking paths around the Valley?
  • Rest stopThe knee-unclenching, bladder-calming rest stop between Phoenix and Tucson, closed due to ADOT budget cuts, was reopened by Parkington with a sign that says, “Where to Stop When You Got to Go” as a welcomed customer service gesture to the traveling public.

What if you created a parking lot that was bigger than you are? You know what the greatest hurdle is to actually realizing a “Parkington?” It’s getting over our tactical business brains…the, “But what about our convenience, competitive pricing, and air-conditioned natural gas shuttles?” Door ding! The commodity play.

No matter what you’re branding, marketing or selling, the best position you can hold is being an added-value partner to the community and sell it with emotion.

That’s OUR story. I think ad agencies can wield tremendous power to convince clients and customers to act. We need to be more than “spin artists.” Professional communicators can help shape communities for the better. And it all starts with our clients, and finding clients that are willing to create successful brands that make a positive difference. I think we can do that with practically any person, product, company or cause.

Even a parking lot.

*That’s not the kind of movement I was eluding to.

***Hey, my name is “Park.” There must be a greater plan. Right?