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Jeff Nicholson standing in front of lockers covered with promotional stickers

Jeff Nicholson, owner of Freely Creative, Inc. attempts to write weekly about stickers... news, design tips, resources, common questions and small business marketing.





Why Do People Put Custom Bumper Stickers On Cars?

car covered with too many bumper stickers

I’m always on the lookout for news, blogs and opinions about stickers. Custom car stickers are an exceptional promotional tool, but some people have strong opinions about never putting a custom sticker on their car and are bothered at times by people that do. In my mind the best custom car stickers are the ones that make me laugh, think or start a conversation. But, no matter what the sticker says or promotes I understand everyone has the right to share (or not share) their opinions and brand preferences on their car. But why, really, do some people have the urge to broadcast their affiliations, their family or opinions on their cars?

A recent blog post by Ken Chitwood at houstonbelief.com made some excellent points regarding this question.

“Why drivers choose to express their spiritual proclivity reveals less about individual religions than the shared human need for group affinity and to mark one’s territory…

Drivers who attach a sticker or decal to their vehicle are making a commitment (have you ever tried to pry off one of those faux-metal decals?). Furthermore, they are making a public statement that thousands, if not more, will see every day.

Those who choose to show their religious bias on a vehicle are those with the strongest “brand affinity.” Consider the not-explicitly-religious decal phenomena of the white Apple stickers. Those who place such stickers on their cars, typically in the lower corner of the rear window, are telling others that they are loyal to the Apple brand. The “brand” becomes the point of commonality, the sticker the point of contact, between two otherwise dissociated individuals…

Whether the bumper sticker elicits admiration or ire, “your” reaction to “my” bumper sticker helps “me” define who “I” am.

For thousands of years, humans have felt the shared need to mark the boundaries of their territory, particularly in opposition to others. With fences, personal decorations and other markers, humans today continue to trademark their territory so that others know what is theirs and how they identify their own.”

So, custom car stickers are really a badge – an extension of who we are, where we live, what we believe, and what products, teams and brands we love. While displaying a tattoo, a t-shirt, a flag, or a custom bumper sticker may be a more obvious ways of defining your opinions and who you are, the house you live in, clothes you wear, and car you drive are defining similar “territories” and “points of commonality” – just in subtler ways.

So, for those people that choose to rant about custom Family Stickers, My Child is… bumper stickers, outdated political stickers, or religious stickers, perhaps they are saying as much about themselves driving a certain type of car with no stickers on it as those that choose to sport a “I’d Rather Be Bowling” sticker on their old truck. Just as motorcycle riders or Jeep owners might give each other a knowing wave when they pass each other on the road – bowlers, Patriots fans, and Flying Spaghetti Monster followers can enjoy similar feelings of connection and group affinity.

For businesses or organizations looking to promote themselves with custom promotional car stickers the mission is clear. It’s not enough to just hand out custom stickers, you need to have a product, brand or message that resonates with people and their lives. As with all effective marketing, custom car stickers are just one promotional tool that is tied to relationship building. The work of building strong relationships and creating fans needs to happen before anyone will help spread the positive word with a custom sticker on their car.

By Jeff Nicholson, owner and marketing director for Websticker.com, custom printer of many, many promotional car stickers.

Posted on: 2 Comments
Jeff Nicholson

2 Responses

  1. Dana says:

    This is right-on.

    Thank you for the beautiful stickers and magnets, Websticker.com! They literally will spread positive words and create strong community connections.

    mantramovement.com

  2. Alec says:

    I am continually amazed by the animal-human need to identify territory and affinity groups.

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