Creating a Lasting Brand Beyond a Vehicle Wrap
Ask yourself, is your fleet fleeting? Do your company’s vehicles catch eyes and turn heads, or do they blend with every other truck on the road? Maybe your wrap is memorable and attention-grabbing… that’s awesome! But now ask yourself, is your wrap design a piece that complements your marketing strategy puzzle? Or is it simply a catalog of your contact information? When you leverage your wrap as a true extension of your marketing plan, you start to create a memorable and identifiable brand, beyond just your vehicle. Fortunately, wrapping a vehicle is not a new concept in the home service industry. Most contractors have some decals or wrap on their vans and trucks. So, getting that far is an easy sell with most HVACR owners. But unfortunately, most contractors aren’t taking advantage of everything the wrap can be and see it as a “work truck” instead of a “branding piece.” Re-wrapping is almost a cuss word in the contractor world because it’s perceived as the most expensive and painful part of running an HVACR business. However, let me position it differently. I propose to you that wrapping, or re-wrapping, your vehicle with an impactful design is the most inexpensive, effective form of marketing you can do right now. Now that you’ve picked yourself up off the floor from my outrageous claim, let me plead my case.
Fleet Marketing: The Brass Tacks
The region of the country in which you reside will determine the cost and shelf-life of a wrap. The average van wrap costs $3000-$5000 and lasts about 3-5 years. For easy math, let’s say the wrap costs $3600 and only lasts three years. That’s $100/month for a mobile billboard, advertising around your community and at customers’ homes seen by future potential customers – or the neighbors. And, of course, parking in the neighborhood of your exact target market. You’d be hard-pressed to find a billboard, radio spot, or even a stack of flyers for $100/month. Having a box truck or van is a necessity for your business. You’re already paying the note, insurance, and fuel costs, so why not let the vehicle do a little work for you? Let the technician advertise during his “windshield hours,” commuting between jobs. When you re-frame the cost of a wrap and realize the value, it’s not nearly as painful to swallow when you receive the bill.
The Oldest Wrap of the Newest Truck
No rule says you must re-wrap every vehicle at the same time. When upgrading, my suggestion is to start with the oldest wrap of the newest truck. Select a truck that is still in good condition, with not a lot of miles, and will be in your fleet for several more years, at least as long as the life of the wrap. You might have some vehicles with wraps pushing that five-year mark, but if the vehicles themselves are nearing the end of their reliability for age or mileage, don’t waste the money on re-wrapping them. Let that wrap phase out with that vehicle. Budget and plan for your vehicle(s) to be re-wrapped during your shoulder season in spring or fall. That might be one vehicle or ten vehicles each season, just plan it out. Cash tends to be tighter during the shoulder season, but if it’s already itemized in the budget, it won’t be such a surprise. Also, it won’t be taking that money-making machine off the streets during peak season. If you’re buying new vehicles, many dealerships will often include the cost of the wrap with the vehicle, so you can simply roll in that cost with your monthly car payment. All you need to do is ask.
Choose a Fleet Wrap Design
Let’s get to the design of the wrap, and why you might consider changing your current design to be a memorable, head-turner, not just another fleeting vehicle on the highway. Where do you get such an awesome design? In my experience, you’re usually better working with an actual branding agency to design your wrap and letting them send the artwork files to the signage company to install it. Rarely is the best wrap installer, also the best graphic designer, and vice versa. Occasionally, you can find that unicorn one-stop-shop signage/wrap company with a stellar design department, but they are not the norm. Find a design agency that has experience in creating wraps. Vehicle wraps are a beast of their own, and there are lots of things to consider besides just what looks pretty.
Two tips to remember when searching for a fleet designer:
• Ensure the artwork is sized correctly. Make sure the panels will seamlessly flow from the fender to the hood, and that the website won’t get cut off in the door handle it can easily get messed up if you aren’t experienced in designing wraps specifically. So, just because you have a cousin with the latest version of Photoshop doesn’t mean they should design your wrap.
• Ask for an agency’s portfolio with all angles of the wrap design, not just a side view. This will show you if they can conceptualize the entire piece. In short, work with agency professionals, but what makes the design memorable?
• Be Bold with your design. I love a design that owns a specific, bold color. It’s noticeable. You can see it coming from a mile away, literally. You see that lime green van on the horizon and immediately think of XYZ Company. I also believe that your wrap should have a pattern or texture incorporated into it. You’re paying for a full color, digitally printed wrap that can be anything, so don’t settle for a solid color, that could have just been a red truck. I love when companies exaggerate the logo and/or mascot of their company on the wrap. Again, you’re paying to wrap the whole vehicle, don’t shrink the logo to fit within the confines of the door jamb. Make it stand out and be a little unexpected.
• Don’t clutter the design with unnecessary information. Contact info is important, but don’t clutter the design. While it’s true that most people will now snap a photo to remember and look your company up later, a phone number is often the standard and a smart piece of identifying information. But position it well, in a place where a potential customer will read it while sitting behind you at a red light. Contact info is great, but there is no need to clutter the sides of the vehicle. Remember, your wrap is a branding piece, not a call to action.
Fleet Marketing is Marathon Branding Strategy
HVACR companies aren't typically top of mind until something breaks, and they always do. With that in mind, you need to advertise with a marathon branding strategy in mind, so that when they do eventually need you, you’re the first ones they think of. Have a wrap that people will remember and think of when they need it. And lastly, carry out that wrap into your entire business presence and let it compound your marketing efforts. Have aspects of your wrap design be incorporated into your radio jingle, “The Pink Van Techs Do the Job Best!”. Let your van “drive” across the screen of your website pulling a banner that says, “schedule now”. Use the same colors, patterns, and textures from the wrap on your business cards and brochures, on your company tech shirts. Include pictures of your technicians in front of their vehicles on your direct mail or billboards. Make your consumer say, “Man, I see your trucks everywhere!” In reality, you may only have two trucks on the road, but all of the sudden, people are noticing them “everywhere”. You might have had those same two trucks driving the same route for years, but you’ve had a fleeting design – no one ever noticed it. It starts with a wrap. When done correctly to make an impact, you will maximize your marketing dollars and build a brand that will stand the test of time.
Emily Fleniken is the creative director for Lemon Seed Marketing, an exclusively home service industry marketing and branding agency. She is passionate about developing brands that catapult companies to maintainable growth and building a legacy for many years to come.
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