Creating a New Online Business for a Global Car Rental Company

Can an established global car rental company compete with a digital ondemand ZipCar?


Business Challenge

For established players, fast moving start-ups with new approaches to their core markets are difficult to counter.  For this car rental company, the answer was to partner with a technology company and launch a similar product in international markets at the same time as a well funded startup enters.

Approach Taken

To go from a basic technical partnership to a consumer buyable product requires thousands of decisions.  To ensure the corporate start-up could be nimble, we chose a team independent from but connected to the parent company and reflected that in branding, organization and systems.  The intention was to get the benefits of the larger organization’s scale but maintain the start-up speed and customer centricity required to produce a viable online service.


The service launched on time with a distinct branding, strong consumer campaign and easy to use service design.

Lessons Learned

  • Arms length independence from the corporate parent is critical to a start up culture and success.
  • Separation needs to be maintained in both financial structure as well as information systems.
  • Great customer focused work is based in teams that can act quickly without approval delays.


The team that completed this work was made up of two agencies groups, one focused on integrated marketing and branding, and the second on digital marketing and service design.  These teams worked directly with a start-up client team and their technical agency partner.


Western Europe

Business Building
Customer Experience, Innovation, Organizational Change, Usability