The Best Billboard Is in Your Grasp

With the rise of high-tech materials, personalized marketing is easier than ever

The Best Billboard Is in Your Grasp

Work vans from Marvel Sewer and Drain in Minnesota effectively display the company’s logo, services and image through attention-grabbing graphics.

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Radio, TV, phone book, Facebook, billboards — the options for advertising your company can be overwhelming, but have you considered using the mediums you already own? We’re talking about the vehicles and equipment your company relies on every day.

“Vinyl graphics and advertising on your vehicle is probably your best investment compared to newspaper ads, periodicals and things like that where you’re getting charged every single time you put that advertisement out there,” says Rodney Roeda, director of sign and vehicle production with ROEDA. “If you have vehicle graphics on all your trucks and everything, you basically have a traveling billboard you only pay for once.”

Not only is it a cost-effective method for promoting your company, it also gives you a launching platform to build your logo and brand.

CREATING AN IMAGE

Another advantage of using your work equipment as advertising space is that consumers will naturally associate your brand with your work. Instead of seeing a utility contractor on a random interstate billboard or hearing about it while driving to work, they see it in their neighborhoods and communities.

“A neighbor will see us, call and say, ‘Hey, you’re at my neighbor’s house, do you have time to come over?’” says Scott Haymer, vice president of Campbell Plumbing & Drain Cleaning. “People see us at the gas station and say, ‘Oh, I’ve been looking for a contractor.’”

Campbell Plumbing’s logo has a simple red, white and blue theme with a caricature of a plumber and a simple message. Their vehicles are hand-painted by a local graphic artist.

“Ours is very basic; you can read our stuff when the truck rides by at 35, 40 mph,” Haymer says.

You might be inclined to think that having a logo constantly on the move might make it less memorable, but those who invest in making their brand stand out often find the opposite effect.

Haymer says when they were looking for a new facility, a Realtor assumed they would need a large garage for a fleet of vehicles, because he had seen their logo around town so much. Campbell Plumbing only has four service vehicles.

“One of the coolest moments for us: We were on a personal trip and someone recognized our name,” says Ben Smith, owner of Marvel Sewer and Drain. “She said, ‘You’re the guy with the superheroes on your truck!’”

Marvel Sewer and Drain’s logo is truly unique — cartoon versions of the Smith family, children included, as superheroes.

“I’ve got two wrapped vans,” Smith says. “Right there, that person remembered me from looking at my van one time. If you know much about advertising, that’s pretty epic.”

Smith even says that while at jobs, he’s sold additional jobs to people who have come up to talk about the logo. It also creates added accountability for his drivers when any bystander can immediately see what company they’re with.

“We’ve been stopped before on the side of the road for people to take pictures. People love it — they think it’s super cool. It’s eye-catching; we get remembered for it,” Smith says. “When my guy pulls up to the job, they see the big wrapped truck and know this is somebody from my company.”

BUILD OFF YOUR LOGO

Having a cool logo is just the start — a way to build an association in the customer’s mind — but creating a brand requires more than a clever logo: You’ve got to get it out there.

“We’re pretty proud of our logo; we put it everywhere we can. It took me a long time to recognize that I was a brand.” Haymer says. “The logo is on our shirts, and we all wear matching shirts; we have built something. We’re not Under Armour or Nike by any means, but we are a brand, and people see us.”

Once you have a presence, you can steadily build it into a brand through small steps.

“You don’t have to push it hard, this whole branding thing, and put billboards up of your logo, but just start. You can start branding now and not do it at the high level,” Smith says. “You start now — that way you have an image you’re building.”

Marvel Sewer and Drain’s branding initiative began as a simple outreach to customers’ children — Smith had a graphic designer print superhero versions of his kids on coloring sheets to be handed out at jobs and events. One thing led to another, and now Marvel Sewer and Drain incorporates their superhero motif into bid sheets, invoices, emails and coffee mugs. Smith even expanded the cartoon family to include versions of his technicians for their personalized business cards.

GRAPHICS ARE VERSATILE

“We have our logo on stickers, and we put stickers on garbage disposals, sump pumps, water heaters — the sticker is by far our best way of advertising,” Haymer says. “When you just took a shower and you have no hot water and you walk downstairs, you’re like ‘Oh, there’s a big orange sticker that has somebody to call.’”

With modern technology and printing techniques, there are really no applications beyond the limits of available materials.

“We definitely try to specialize in custom products. It all depends on what the need of the customer is,” says Jacob Roeda, director of screen print production for ROEDA. “If we are in a situation where a certain customer needs a large heat range — to apply to a surface that is high-heat or really low-temp — there are certain materials that are more resistant or more durable, so depending on what the customer is looking for, we always try to cater to that need. If somebody is looking for product for steel pipes, water surfaces, constant use, outdoor use, we can find that correct product.”

ROEDA also has a stable of graphic designers, and they offer artwork services at any level, whether a company has an existing brand that needs tweaking or is starting from scratch.

“Our job is to sell our customer’s product. We’re trying to create designs and artwork that sell a particular customer’s product,” Roeda says. “We want to respect what our customers are looking for, but sometimes we’ll make our recommendations, too. Different options can give a different feel or vibe for that logo design. So we like to let them know there are different things they can consider to sell their product and get brand recognition.”

MAKE IT PERSONAL

In a market saturated by a variety of advertising, it may not be print, digital or radio advertising that makes the most splash. For some contractors, the most prime advertising real estate may already be in the shop: Vehicle and equipment decals provide long-term impact for a solitary upfront investment.

“It’s endless; there are so many possibilities,” Smith says. “And it’s so enjoyable on my side. I feel like I have an identity now: I’m not just some guy showing up to fix things. Just be you. Let it come through as you — find something you enjoy and do it.”

As far as deciding what logo to best represent your company, it’s all about building a connection. If you feel attached to your brand, so will your customers.

“Don’t stand behind some image that isn’t you,” Smith says. “So many of us, especially at my level, are so in tune with our own business; I’m bleeding through my marketing. Don’t have something you’re not going to enjoy. I love pushing my superheroes; I love showing my superheroes. Nobody remembers Marvel Sewer and Drain; they remember my superheroes.”



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