“I saw your truck at the neighbors’. Can I get an estimate?”
Aaron Wiltshire has received plenty of calls like these, thanks to his fleet of trucks wrapped with the Oklahoma Landscape logo – an artistic letter ‘O’ with graphic wisps of grass that make a sophisticated, professional impression. Wiltshire invested in a marketing firm to create the logo with the idea that this visual would carry the Tulsa, Oklahoma-based business forward for at least a decade. So far, that’s proven to be the case.
Wiltshire is getting lots of mileage from his branded vehicles.
“It’s a silent message, and you don’t realize how much it can penetrate into the psyche of your local market,” he says, noting that consistency is the key. Every truck carries the same logo. Team members’ uniforms are stamped with it and so are company communications.
A clean, identifiable vehicle says: We’re in business.
“It definitely sends the right message to the market,” Wiltshire says, adding that there’s a security aspect to wrapping vehicles, too. Customers and prospects know who’s driving the truck parked in their driveways. Not to mention, with more than 10 vehicles on the road every day, there’s something to be said about the “mass marketing” aspect of vehicle wraps.
Taking a less subtle approach, Mark Leahy, owner of Blades of Green in Harwood, Maryland, started wrapping his trucks in 2005 with bold messaging and graphics that literally stop traffic. The company has a fleet of 57 billboards-on-wheels that give people a taste of the bold, proud company culture. “We have fun with it,” Leahy says.
“My theory is, you have less than a second to make an impression on someone,” Leahy says. “I want them saying, ‘Wow, that’s really cool,’ or, ‘Wow, look at that ...’ Either way, they’re saying, ‘Wow.’”
Leahy started wrapping his trucks 14 years ago after reading an article about a company in Florida that was doing “crazy wraps.” He says, “We decided to give it a try – and we said, ‘Let’s do something different.’”
Some trucks carry a bug theme with grass and a frog sitting on a log. “You can see the kids looking out the backseat of their cars and you can watch the parents reading, ‘Blades of Green,’” Leahy says, adding that it’s fun to watch kids repeatedly ask their parents to read the words.
Some wraps are emblazoned with the American flag. Others are stamped with a Maryland flag and there are vehicles honoring every branch of the U.S. military. (Blades of Green employs a number of veterans, being located so close to Washington, D.C.) “Our people are proud to drive the vehicles around,” he says.
And, there’s humor involved, too. Some trucks have “Got Weeds?” splashed on the side. Others says, “Weeds are a pain in the grass.” Leahy says, “Those are the two main messages we do. We don’t have a P.C. one.” All of the wraps have message on the tail: “Always hiring the best,” because, as Leahy says, “We are always looking for good people.”
And, Leahy has learned that less can be more with the designs. His graphics are bold, but not busy.
“You see some trucks that list every service they do – people are not reading that,” he says. “You want to grab their attention and get your name out there. And, make sure you have a good website so if people Google you, they can find you.”
Custom Creations Landscaping & Lawn in Springfield, Missouri, takes a “less is more” approach when marketing on wheels. Rather than full wraps, they go for tailored logos on vinyl that are applied to trucks’ doors.
“We keep it classic and easy to read,” says owner Kevin Runyon. “We don’t do any weird fonts that are hard to read at a glance.”
Runyon created the logo himself about 15 years ago, and the company that makes his vinyl vehicle graphics tweaked and modernized it, so it stands out on the company’s six trucks.
The high-quality vinyl has a seven-year guarantee that covers fading, and Runyon hasn’t had any problems with that yet. “We see great results; we don’t lose color and the vinyl doesn’t tend to come off,” he says. The only exception was a dump truck where vinyl was applied on a concave area that tended to pull off from time to time.
Just as important as the logo to showcasing your professionalism is the condition of vehicles, Runyon says. “We wash all of our equipment and trucks every week – and more often if they need it,” he says. Also, he tends to turn over the trucks he purchases every two to four years.
Leahy and Wiltshire also follow a weekly washing procedure. At Oklahoma Landscape, trucks are washed with a heated high-pressure washer and a soft-bristle with foam wash is brushed on the vehicles to get them clean.
“We do have to be careful on the edges because you can get too aggressive (with brushing and heated water),” Wiltshire says. He expects wraps to last about 10 years, which is about the same length of time they hold on to trucks.
Leahy likes to use winter down-time to give wraps a special treatment. “We take rubbing alcohol and scrub the whole truck by hand,” he says. “That cleans them up and removes any staining from lawn care products. Then, we run a light wax coat on the trucks once a year.”
“My theory is, you have less than a second to make an impression on someone.” Mark Leahy, owner, Blades of Green
How can you measure the investment in vehicle marketing? It’s not like running web analytics. As Wiltshire pointed out, vehicle marketing can be “silent” because it’s all about having a presence. When customers call in, Runyon says they make an effort to ask how the person learned about the company.
More than anything, the payoff comes in the form of brand awareness and communicating the company’s professionalism.
Leahy takes the visibility to the next level by participating in his city’s St. Patrick’s Day parade. “We pull a float with a frog on it and everyone loves seeing our trucks,” he says.
Whether the approach is crowd-pleasing and loud, or simple and concise, the point is to make a statement that aligns with your company’s culture because vehicle marketing is a branding tool that should be an extension of your overall marketing plan.
That said, Wiltshire suggests hiring a professional to create a design for vehicles. “A lot of times, the wrap companies can help you with a clean design and you may only spend a couple hundred extra dollars for that,” he says. Wiltshire’s company used a design firm at a larger fee, but they were working on much more than a logo.
“It’s a rolling billboard, so vehicle branding is very important,” Runyon says.