Overgrown Mustache: Lyft's Spinoffs

It took all of a couple months for the car-hire service Lyft to turn a Pepto-pink mustache into a branding empire. A year since the company's genesis, the hairy logo hasn't just become ubiquitous on car bumpers; it's now one of the most desirable trademarks in San Francisco. And evidently, Lyft is willing to share it.

According to a spokeswoman, Lyft's pink mustache trademark applies only to transportation, meaning that if you slapped a fuchsia beard on your sedan and christened it a taxi service, you'd get a cease-and-desist order. But Lyft seems amenable to spinoffs within its own ranks. Enterprising drivers have created “themed” rides — Disco Lyft, Hip-Hop Lyft — each one a cult of personality and a form of brand extension.

Lyft's founders don't seem to mind. Nor did they object when driver Davis Lee created his own line of Lyft paraphernalia — mustache hats, mustache Letterman jackets, embroidered mustache patches — which he sells at-cost to other employees. Lee is a new breed of company man for a company that's “disruptive,” but seems to inspire slavish loyalty. (McDonald's employees aren't clamoring to home-produce Golden Arches merchandise, even if the company would let them.) To acolytes, the mustache enshrines a set of values as well as a brand identity. And company brass agree.

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