When you’re driving around town, you pass tons of branded cars and trucks without even realizing it. It’s not uncommon to see a Coca Cola truck barreling down the highway, or a U-Haul van decked out in orange and white.
But shipping and moving companies aren’t the only ones branding their cars, vans, and trucks. It turns out small business owners and startups are doing it just as much, if not more.
But are these companies seeing ROI from their vehicles? Are branded cars and vans great marketing tools or just a waste of money?
We did the math, talked to a ton of small business owners with various types of branded transport, and figured out which industries are most likely to see success.
Branded Cars Are Attention-Grabbers
There are a lot of branded cars on the road, so if you’re going to brand, make sure your wrap gets noticed. Small business owners with branded vehicles cite attention and recognition as the primary reason for spanking their company name on a car. Many talked about how their vehicles were moving billboards.
Breeding the Familiarity Principle
Did you know that 60% of consumers would rather buy products from companies they’ve heard of than ones they haven’t?
If people are familiar with your brand, they’re more likely to buy from you. So, breed a little familiarity and get a branded vehicle. This affinity works well if you’re catering to people in a certain neighborhood or geographic region.
If your company name rings a bell, people will be more comfortable with you. They’ll feel like they’ve seen you and your business around town, as though you’re an esteemed neighbor.
“Familiarity sells. If someone is in your area and needs a dentist, and they go to Google and say ‘hey, I’ve heard of them.’ These people are more likely to differentiate and to choose you. Says Jeff Blake, founder of Rush Hour Advertising, a company that connects advertisers with prospective drivers.
Maintaining a Professional Image
If you’re making house calls and visiting clients, a branded vehicle goes a step beyond customer acquisition and recognition. It serves as proof that you’re a real professional, entirely dedicated to your company.
“Our van makes my business seem larger, more robust than it is. When asking a new customer recently how she heard of us, she replied, ‘Oh, I saw one of your vans in front of my apartment.’ I love that she thinks that my one and only company vehicle is part of a larger fleet.”
–Valerie McCartney, – Enticing Tables.
When you drive up to someone’s home and park in their driveway, you’re not only showing them that you’re serious, but you’re showing your company to the neighborhood.
If a customer is buying from you, their neighbors are probably interested, too. That’s why landscaping companies always have branded vans and trucks. Neighbors peek out their front windows or walk by and decide to call that landscaper, too.
Getting Direct Sales
So we said getting direct sales isn’t a reason to brand a car, but some of the business owners we talked to believe their vehicles result in direct sales.
“I see people sitting beside me at stop lights reading my car, literally see people sitting beside me at stop lights reading my car or looking at the photos,” says Valerie. “Occasionally, they snap a photo of the brand name with their smartphone. People routinely walk up to me and ask for a business card.”
William Sisson of Inspections by Bob has had a similar experience. “We get calls all the time from people who have seen our vehicles and wanted to know more about our services. I’m also approached in parking lots as I’m getting in or out of my car, and asked for business cards. We have small business card holders on the rear of our vehicles, and we need to refill them every week or two.”
Considering Your Industry
The people that see the most return on their branded vehicles run businesses catering to local audiences in particular neighborhoods. No surprise there– it’s pretty hard to get a national presence if you’re driving around one area.
People who believe their branded cars were necessary investments:
- A luxury residential architect.
- A creator of high-quality cupcake and cake holders.
- A healthcare startup founder.
- A sports and fitness instructor.
- An automotive consultant for women.
- A lawn care and landscape expert.
Expand your audience by parking in neighborhoods and locations where your services needed.
Branding your car has better results than spending money on a billboard because you not only make the advertising targeted, but you have a higher reach when driving.
- You’re Accountable for Playing Nice.
You absolutely MUST play nice on the road. Tail-gating, honking, cutting people off, speeding, and running red lights are always repugnant, but especially so if you’re in a company car.
- Pay Attention to Your Rear.
Make sure you brand the back of your car, not just the sides. Most people will see you from the back.