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Carwash chain rebrands as two companies - two brothers, two logos, one history

Nov 05, 2014
When Bill and Mike Dahm decided to split their family-owned carwash chain into two companies, they had a dilemma:  how to support their brand with two new companies.
For the third time in four decades, they turned to BrandEquity, Newton, MA to solve their identity problem.
Back in 1948, their father Joe and his brother Ed started the business as Mike’s Minit Man, which was a traditional full service carwash. 
Thirty years later, Joe Selame, founder of BrandEquity,changed the name to Mike’s Express Carwash and created the logo “that made us look big time,” according to Bill Dahm.
Bill and Mike have been running the business since 1993, when Joe and Ed retired.  In 2011, they re-engaged BrandEquity, with Creative Director Steve Smith creating a refined striped logo.  He deleted “Express” from the name, making “Mike’s” prominent and reconfiguring the stripes.
“The brand was really ‘Mike’s’, so we made that stand out,” Smith said.
Now Smith has addressed the unique challenge of creating a brand identity for the two new companies, keeping enough familiar aspects of the brand while making each of them distinctive.  The result? 
Crew Carwash was created for Bill Dahm’s 26 carwashes, maintaining the three stripes, with Crew in a reversed upper and lower  case font and Carwash in all capital letters, against a black background.
Mike’s Carwash lost the stripes, but kept the font, changed to all capital letters reversed in white against a bright red background,  and added a waterdrop for the apostrophe. 

Bill, who is 12 year older and owned a larger share of the company, now runs 26 Crew Carwash locations near his base in Indianapolis, while Mike runs 15 Mike’s Carwash locations near his Cincinnati base.
“Steve Smith came in with 20 new names using our look for the new company as well as various new color and design schemes for Mike’s Carwash.  Eight members of our team met with him and discussed the benefits of each,” Bill Dahm said.  “Our company has always been about the team, and that’s why we chose ‘Crew’.  We love it.”
“Our two logos are different enough that we look like two distinct companies, but similar enough that we all carry the brand and goodwill Mike’s Carwash has had for decades.”
“We had a win-win resolution.  Neither of us will go into the other’s territory, and we both expect to see growth.  More people go to professional carwashes, since they keep their cars longer.  Our future looks bright,” Dahm said.
He noted that 90% of the growth of Mike’s Carwash has been organic, not by acquisition, although small acquisitions in the future are possible in addition to organic expansion.

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