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A Service Story

May 16, 2024

The Best Way to Build a Contractor’s Brand – Part III

Jan. 16, 2013
In Part I of this series highlighted the advertising value of a truck (around $15,000 per month).  Part II presented good truck design practices.  Here are practices to avoid:

This is Part III.  For Part I, CLICK HERE.  For Part II, CLICK HERE.

In Part I of this series highlighted the advertising value of a truck (around $15,000 per month).  Part II presented good truck design practices.  Here are practices to avoid:

•    Avoid outlines.  The problem with outlined letters and logos is they disappear at a distance.  Fill them in and make more impressions.

•    Avoid script.  Script is harder to read at a glance.  Moreover, Gen Y and younger cannot read script.  They never learned cursive in school.

•    Avoid white.  Based on the predominance of white service trucks, most contractors must believe that white is a requirement.  It’s not.  Stand out.  Select any color other than white for your fleet.

•    Avoid “owned” colors.  Ask most people to think of brown vans and they think of UPS.  UPS owns the color brown.  Paint your trucks brown and people will automatically think “UPS” when they see one.  Find a unique color no one is using your market.  Avoid owned colors.

•    Avoid clashing colors.  Some colors clash.  Put them next to each other and they vibrate.  It’s hard on the eye and makes your logo and other messaging more difficult to read.  Fortunately, clashing colors is an easy problem to fix.  Simply outline the logo or other text is a color that doesn’t clash, such as white or black.

•    Avoid using every available font.  When computers first acquired the capability to display multiple fonts or typefaces, many computer users went nuts.  They tried to incorporate as many different fonts as possible into a document.  Some contractors try to do the same with their trucks.  Don’t!  Stop it!  Limit the number of fonts to no more than two.  If you want them easily read at a distance a bold san serif (e.g., Arial or Calibri) beats a roman (e.g., Times New Roman) every time.

•    Avoid going crazy with wraps.  Wraps give you incredible capabilities.  You can reproduce a photograph on the side of your service vehicles if you are so inclined.  Unfortunately, many contractors go crazy with complex murals, text over images, and so on.  A cluttered wrap is a cluttered image.  Keep it simple.

•    Avoid “too much.”  Even without wraps you can go overboard covering every square inch of your vehicle with information.  Resist the temptation to put too much information on the sides of your vehicles.  Remember, these are rolling billboards flying down the road.  While some will be in cars traveling in the same direction, more people will see your trucks from opposing traffic or cross streets.  People simply do not have the time to read a lot of text.  Keep it simple, simple, simple.

•    Avoid mirror text.  Some contractors put mirror text on the hood, like an ambulance.  Your vans are not ambulances rushing up behind cars with lights flashing (at least, I hope not).  More people will see the hood of your vans when traveling in the opposing lane, not looking in the rear view mirror.

•    Avoid low contrast.  Grey on white might look elegant, but it disappears at a distance.  High contrast stands out.  Low contrast does not.  The only time to use low contrast is when you cannot resist the urge to put lots of information on the truck.  In that case, make the logo contrast with the base color and lower the contrast with the rest of the messaging.  If someone wants to walk up and read it, he can.  For everyone else, your logo and possibly, your unique selling proposition pop.

•    Avoid lettering over graphics.  This is simple.  Letter over graphics and you make it harder to read the text.  If the text is important, separate it.  If it’s not important, eliminate it.

•    Avoid meaningless lettering.  Any copy on the truck should have a purpose.  Putting your phone number on the back, without other information is meaningless.  Putting a product or service offering on the back, such as the word, “guttering,” without any other copy is equally meaningless.

•    Avoid hand lettering.  This should be obvious, but there are enough hand lettered trucks on the road that it is necessary to state that hand lettering always looks amateurish and cheap.

•    Avoid promoting the yellow pages or any website with a dealer locator.  Believe it or not, some contractors drive trucks with stickers suggesting people look for them in the yellow pages (along with a few hundred of their closest competitors).  Similarly, no matter how proud you are of an equipment brand, trade association, or certification body, referring people to a third party website that lists competitive contractors is foolish.

•    Avoid appealing to the trade over the consumer.  Some contractors can’t resist adding an inside industry joke to their trucks.  Others focus on imagery that makes sense to them, but not to consumers.  Remember, you are trying to appeal to an ignorant public, not your buddies in the local trade association.

•    Avoid letting service personnel express themselves with your trucks.  Do not let them put up stickers that express their personality.  They might be clever and funny to their friends, but they usually convey an unprofessional image to the public at large.  

•    Avoid stating “radio dispatched.”  This was state-of-the-art in 1960.

•    Avoid amateur application.  Some contractors try to save money with DIY decal jobs.  Usually, the result is DIY looking trucks.  Also, it’s important to align decals with the panel creases, not the roof line.  

•    Avoid idiot driving.  If your technician is driving 10 miles between calls and increases from an average speed of 30 MPH to 50 MPH, he saves a whopping eight minutes.  Tell your technicians to slow down.  Be extra courteous to other drivers.  After all, they are ambassadors for your company.

In the next issue of CB Hotmail, truck marketing tips will be offered.

The Service Roundtable is issuing rebate checks this week.  For the year, we paid out more than $2 million dollars to contractors for buying parts, products, and services from our Roundtable Rewards partners rather than someone else.  Are you getting cash back on your purchases?  In not, join the Service Roundtable and enroll in the free Roundtable Rewards program.  Call 877.262.3341 for more information.