Live Client - WINNER

Skills Used:

  • Primary Research

  • Participant Interviews

  • Rapid Prototyping

  • Journey Mapping

  • Digital Product Innovation

How can an automotive disruptor transform the used-car industry once again?

Since their debut nearly six years ago, Carvana has been disrupting the automotive industry and position themselves as, “The New to Buy a Car.” Fast forward and today a wave of nearly identical automotive startups have followed in their footsteps by replicating Carvana’s disruptive business model and undercutting their prices. Compound these new competitors with previously existing used-retailers investing heavily in online innovation and Carvana is now facing competition from every corner.

Carvana came to us asking, "What’s next?"; or more specifically, what should be their new brand positioning, and how do we share that idea with the world. They had already begun to explore the strategic territory, “Designed to Delight”, but wanted us to take it even further. Our team deconstructed and rearranged this new territory in a way that would resonate with new consumers, and ultimately won us the pitch.

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Bring Carvana’s new positioning to life and guide the brand into the next decade.


Consumers’ existing distrust and perceptions of used car buying are far from delightful.


Transform the entire used car buying experience through radical transparency.


Used car buying is scary.

Used car buying entirely online
WITHOUT physical dealerships,
employee interactions, or even
inspecting the car? Terrifying.

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For decades the idea of buying and selling used cars has conjured imagery of sleazy, fast-talking salesmen in tacky suits, pulling any trick they can to rip off the customer; and for good reason:

Consumers have been hearing stories of questionable deals, hidden fees, and buyers' remorse for nearly a century.

Despite its new completely online business model, consumers were still
unconvinced Carvana would deliver a different outcome.

Our team knew that in order to get the complete picture of the massively complex used car industry (and everything wrong with it) we would have our work cut out for us. We would have to tap every research tool in our arsenal and even create our own.

We began by auditing our extended category, copy-cat competitors, and the entire Carvana brand experience. Our interview subjects ranged from recent Carvana customers, local mechanics, and even a former used-car salesman. Upon digging into online review platforms, a clear picture began to appear: the game was almost entirely rigged from the start and consumers could feel it.

We wanted to dive deeper into this feeling but were fighting against time and had to get scrappy. Our team hosted an experimental qualitative workshop known as a sentiment sprint (a research technique developed by teammate Gabi Levi), which walked 50+ participants through a fast-paced series of activities focused on the used car buying & selling experience. These ranged from contextually specific ad-libs to filming rapid answer ‘car talk’ trivia, and even a fill-in-the-blank comic panel in which we asked our participants to outline a used car buying story - hero, villain, conflict, and outcome. Respondents’ story arcs all told the same story: an evil seller tries to trick a hero buyer into buying a broken car but the hero escapes or tricks the seller into getting a fair deal.

Their responses confirmed our underlying suspicion:
Expectations for buying with Carvana were fundamentally no different than the rest of the used car industry.

‘Delight’ in the used car industry is simply
a good car at a fair price, with no games or surprises.

Carvana began as the ‘new’ way to buy a used car. Unfortunately, for many consumers, this 'new' way was still the same as before, with the same old problems, but now online.

With its new innovations like driveway delivery, vehicle-vending-machines, and no dealer fees Carvana had only eliminated the car salesman in the sleazy suit, NOT the underlying consumer fears that plagued used car buying at its core service level. This elephant in the showroom was not a problem unique to Carvana, but Carvana was the only one uniquely equipped to solve it.

Deliver consumer confidence through radical transparency to rise above the used car games.
Unexplained Pricing

“Why is there a $2,000 difference between two identical models with identical milage?

Unclear Language

“What is a ‘power lift-gate’ should I be concerned?

Undisclosed Damage

“Why is my fender two shades of blue if it has never been in an accident?"

Uncertain Delivery

“Why is it easier to track my pizza delivery than my car delivery?”

"Where are the greatest needs for transparency
in the current process, Carvana & beyond?"

Designed to be Fully Vertically Integrated

> Carvana buys, inspects, sells & delivers all their own cars, so they already have the power to change their own process, unlike competitors.

Desire to Humanize Car Buying & Selling

> Carvana's founding mission has been to make car buying & selling more human and enjoyable.

Disclose MOST Dings & Scratches On-Site

> Carvana already leads the industry with their own vehicles inspections at centralized centers & annotate their photos online to show wear.

Deliver on Customer Service

> While not every car always arrives exactly on time, they are committed to customer service and have dedicated personnel ready to help at all times.

We created a new standard for used car transparency, 100% online.

We helped people understand what goes into a car’s sticker price without disclosing our final margins by adding a line-item drop down that shows pricing adjustments.

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We turned ‘car talk’ into human talk so buyers could better understand what they’re actually paying for.

During our research, our team learned that car-talk is meaningless without a human translator. Leaning into this we transformed the initial 'About' section to use the same "human" language you would use to describe the car to your friends or neighbors.

We even went a step further and created hover-over explanation animation with ‘human’ definitions for the detailed spec list on every page.


To fully lean in, we developed Carvana’s own first-party inspection checklist.


'Carvana Facts' examines the same 150 criteria as your standard CarFax, PLUS the six crucial inspection points they exclude, but mechanics don't. We then added specific repair dates to assure buyers they know the full history of their purchase.

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Transforming our buying experience was not enough, so we extended that same transparency to our delivery and post-delivery stages with transformed customer service.

We branded our agents & assigned each buyer a singular team-of-contact from the initial “7-days until your car arrives” until the end of their “7-day test ownership” so customers never felt like they were just another order number being endlessly transferred from agent to agent when they call.

Transparent Twitter Translations:
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Transparently Traditional OOH:
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Carvana's Feedback?
"Amazing, we could
do this tomorrow." 

- Paul Keister, CCO


Kelley Bode - Copywriter

Brit Kern - Experience Designer

Jackie Koon - Experience Designer

Gabi Levi - Creative Brand Manager

Charlotte Simons - Art Director

Kyle Stolcis - Strategist


  • Primary Research

  • In-Person Interviews

  • Creative Briefing

  • Strategic Execution

  • User Flows

  • Live Client Presentation