What messages are you communicating with your vehicle?You can learn a lot about people from the window decals, license tags and bumper stickers adorning the vehicles they drive (as well as from the vehicles themselves). Have you ever stopped to consider the numerous ‘verbal’ and nonverbal communication messages you transmit to the world as you travel around town from Point A to Point B?

Think about it.

Upon careful examination of the cars in any given parking lot — whether they be outside Wal-Mart, Target, Starbucks or any other popular place of business — you can rapidly identify vehicles that provide you with clues about where the drivers and/or their kids went to college, how many kids they have (and what kind of extra-curricular activities those kids engage in), what kind of music the drivers enjoy (which, although not completely reliable, may indicate the driver’s age or generation), what their hobbies are, what charities they contribute to, whether they believe in our current President of the United States, whether they believe in God, and whether they have a sense of humor about any of the above topics!

During a drive to my parents’ home in Roanoke, Virginia on Friday, a stoplight turned red. I rolled my car to a stop behind a burgundy van, circa 1980. My gaze turned to the bumper sticker on its rusted metal bumper. That’s when my confusion began.

You see, most bumper stickers project a crystal-clear message that can be easily grasped by almost anyone within a few seconds, kind of like an effectively crafted elevator pitch, slogan, tagline or motto for your business (something Melissa and I will be happy to help you with, if you need a little inspirational kick-start from the inside-out). This is why I sometimes take clients through an analysis of their scripted keynote speeches to determine the bumper-sticker-like message, or purpose, they intend to get across to their audiences.

This bumper sticker in Roanoke, however, threw me for a loop. It asked…

If Barbie was so popular, why did you have to buy her friends?

At first I smiled and thought I ‘got it,’ but the longer the stoplight remained red and the longer I stared at the bumper sticker, they less certain I became. Was it a light and silly joke, or was it posing some deeper philosophical question about friendship, popularity, and authenticity to all tailgaters and fellow traffic jam participants who came into its space?

What do you think? Please help, because this bumper sticker has been on my mind for days now! What is the message you perceive from this adhesive communication?

What message is this REALLY communicating?

Now think about your family’s vehicle(s). When you pull up to a meeting with a potential client, what messages is he or she receiving about you before you even open the door? Are they the same messages you want to portray? In other words, are they in alignment with who you want this person to think about you? (Hint: If you are being your authentic self when doing business with potential and current clients, the previous question should not have generated that frown on your face.)

And if you are wondering about my car, I don’t have any stickers or decals because I like to leave a little something to the imagination. However, I do have an East Carolina University license tag. “Go Pirates!”

Let’s get a little discussion started here. In the Comments box below, please tell us what you think about the issues raised here today. While you’re at it, let’s try something fun. If you were a car, what would your personal bumper sticker say?

Live the Dream, My Friends!


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