The Mini brand is all about fun and owner-specified (if not always owner-created) customization. Take a look around Flickr and you’ll see an amazing display of creativity. Mini fans are taking the brand ball and running with it.
As a marketer, the tradeoff is one of control. Traditional marketing communications, PR, and branding was all about control: say this, don’t say that, stay on the straight and narrow, conform to this set of brand guidelines or else. Or else you’ll lose your chance at a promotion to group brand manager of whateverthislatestthingisthatwe’retryingtoflog. We can see this mindset at work in the current US presidential campaign, where the natural charisma of candidates is strangled by their handlers. But the "new" marketing, as it were, is all about being open and releasing control. It’s built around trust, and works from an optimistic point of view which assumes that most everything done with the brand out in the marketplace will be good for the brand. Brands that work in this new world are those which strive to authentic and speak from a position of truth rather than myth; when you are about truth, then even deviance is not really "off brand", it just adds an additional element of complexity. And complexity makes things more interesting.
Such is the case with with this Mini I spied on the street. If you’re Mini, how might you respond to this case of owner customization? Aside from the content, which may be too edgy for some folks, the customization has been executed very well. The white of the roundrel matches the white of the hood stripes and roof. The font used for the numbers is clean and modern. Even the license plate was carefully considered: it read "VI VI VI". If I were Mini, I certainly wouldn’t try to shut down this deviance, or even venture to educate it. No, I’d send this owner a coupon for 20% off their next Mini. This car is brand-enhancing. If anything, it raises the bar for clever customization among Mini loyalists, and as such is a wonderful example of creating infectious action.