Ride-hailing service Lyft is bringing in top talent with its recent hire of Jesse McMillin, the former creative director at Virgin American who had helped to transform that company’s image.
Lyft announced the hire in a blog post on July 29, giving McMillin a platform to introduce himself and his mission for the company. “It’s not every day that all of the ingredients for an amazing brand perfectly align and create a space where the potential and opportunity is entirely limitless,” he wrote. “To be a part of shaping the path for where such an exciting brand will go is not only a special opportunity, it’s the chance of a lifetime.”
During his tenure at Virgin America, McMillin was responsible for projects including a new in-flight safety video that drew praise for its entertainment value. In fact, the video went viral, and was viewed nearly 10 million times on YouTube.
As he attempts to make his mark on Lyft, especially as it tries to grow amid legal problems and a rocky start to service in New York City, McMillin has bold plans. In an interview with Wired on Tuesday, McMillin called Lyft an “underdog,” and that the company’s signature pink, fluffy mustache attached to the front of its driver’s cars may evolve in the future. “There are different ways you might execute the power of an icon. We’ll be thinking about the next life of the mustache,” he told Wired.
Gregg Lipman, a managing partner at the branding firm CBX, called Lyft’s hire a strong one. “Virgin is a pretty good training ground to choose from,” he told Fortune in an email.
Lipman praised the company’s current image as “quirky, unique and ownable.” He added that the decision to hire McMillin may be a solid choice, especially if Lyft hopes to reach a wider range of customers. “The question will be, as competition with Uber increases, and they both deal with regulation and the inevitable backlash, will this cute, perky persona be adaptable to a broader ubiquitous audience – and will it need to?” he said.
And like with McMillin, the mustache became a focal point for Lipman when discussing Lyft’s look going forward. “I can’t see them losing the mustache in the near future. Maybe a dye job would do, but not a shave,” he added.
But, interestingly, the company has seemingly already begun distancing itself from the pink appendage. In its newly minted New York City service, for instance, cars are without the signature mustaches attached to the grilles. Instead, a small, pink one will hang on the windshield, according to Bloomberg. Maybe it’s a signal of what’s to come.