The Ugly Duckling Story

Courtesy of Amazon

Everyone has probably read the childhood book, The Ugly Duckling, and remembers the transformation of the maligned duckling into a beautiful swan.


This post is a true story about the transformation of a company through a name change and rebranding over the 10 year period I served as the Creative Director.


Ugly Duckling Company History

The company, Ugly Duckling Car Sales, first got it’s name early on as a rental car company in the Tucson and Phoenix areas. The name was originally Ugly Duckling Rental Cars and reflected a second rate level of affordable rental cars, as well as the original owner’s last name, Duck. Over time and several owners, the company’s present owner’s shifted its focus to selling used cars to the subprime customer, and eventually went public trading on NASDAQ under UGLY in 1996.

By the time I arrived five years later in 2001 Ugly Duckling Car Sales had been built into a powerful brand generating an estimated $540 million in sales revenue with 80 plus dealerships across the country. While I say powerful brand you need to understand the difference between a negative vs positive brand. Ugly Duckling had a huge presence in many markets, and was definitely well known, but not in a positive way. Read more