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Truck Lettering / Signage 101

Discussion in 'Hardscaping' started by DVS Hardscaper, Oct 25, 2008.

  1. DVS Hardscaper

    DVS Hardscaper LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,601

    I'm more into the logistics of business, than I am into looking at pictures, or telling others how much to charge. So I'll share my thoughts about a topic that is vital to our competitive industry, yet doesn't come up very often:

    Truck Lettering / Signage

    Keep it simple. Keep it real simple. And, think about what catches your eye when you're driving.

    Sometime on Monday you're going to be driving somewhere, fellow business owners. And you WILL see a truck, van, or car with lettering on it. And you WILL read the lettering. Now, if you're not in the market for their services - you'll forget about it within seconds. But if you or someone you know is in the market, or may be in the market in the near future - their lettering is going to get your attention and you may find yourself jotting down the number.

    Thats a fact!

    So in terms of your lettering / signage - simply state what it is you do. Don't use words or terms that only we in the industry know what they mean. You need to speak your client's language.

    For example, we do hardscapes. BUT.....you won't see the word "hardscapes" on our trucks, yard signs, and brochures. The average consumer has no clue what a "hardscape" is.

    So for us to speak our client's language, I have the following lettering on our trucks:

    Patios • Walks • Driveways
    Outdoor Living Spaces
    Outdoor Lighting Experts
    Retaining Walls
    Water Features

    yep, all that consumes space! But....we just summed up what it is that we do, and we did so by talking THEIR (the clients) language. We just told Mr & Mrs Homeowner who are following behind the truck, whom are in the market for a patio for their new home, that we do exactly what they're looking for - we build patios, and.....we CAN landscape it.......and......we can bring it to life at night.......and.....we can add relaxing sound!

    Lets go further: *wrapping*

    I have mixed feeling about "wrapping" trucks in vinyl lettering with photos. I used to be an advocate of wrapping. But ya know, in terms of the LANDSCAPE industry, sure wrapping may look very nice, but ya know, really, no one is able to really see the photos and the detail in the photos because it's hard to take all that in, along with the list of services offered, the company name, and the phone number and/or web address as you're driving 55-65 mph down the highway. And usually the list of services, the contact info, and company name cover over the photos!

    As it stands righ now, I do not recommened vehicle wrapping for the landscape industry. (Although, I do plan to have a photo of a hardscape on the rear window of my truck, but I will use a very simple photo, and I'm limiting it to the rear window only, vinly lettering is on the tailgate, this way the photo won't be covered up)

    Last edited: Oct 25, 2008
  2. shepoutside

    shepoutside LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,208

    Wrapping has done well for us. Remember that most trucks are not in motion all the time, so they are bill boards while at job sites, or parked. I wrap city buses, as they offer huge amount of space, they even cover the windows now, and they ( around here) are on the road 5am-2am 7 days a week. In a larger city, the wraps have done well.
  3. DVS Hardscaper

    DVS Hardscaper LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,601

    Now, ya gotta look at my wording in the opening post of this thread :)

    Buses - thats how I discovered wrapping. The first vehicles I ever say wrapped - were buses. But see, they are an exception, primarily because they are LARGE, thus space to tell their story is plentiful, unlike a 3/4 ton pickup or a mid size pick up.

    Back to OUR industry:

    Marketing is vital to our businesses, each and individually. However, many contractors do NOTHING in terms of marketing because they think it's expensive, or because they do not understand the psychology of marketing.

    We have one local contractor in my area that got all their leads from 1 paver supplier. Well, now that supplier is long out of business. These guys have NO work, as they are not marketing. They just do not understand that they cann get their name out for very low cost.

    You CAN do a successful marketing and spend very very little.

    No doubt, wrapping will do one well. But....in my opinion, the cost of wrapping does not justify the principle. Wrapping is expensive. You can achieve the SAME results with simple lettering. Mark my words.

    I'd bet that most here got started mowing lawns, right? And I bet that at least 50% of the participants here started mowing lawns by hanging 8.5x11 flyers on doors. And I bet they achieved great results! For pennies!

    Again, the biggest problem with wrapping in terms of our industry is that the lettering and the business logo usually cover over most of the pictures. So then you've paid thousands of dollars for basically stating something you can do with low cost vinyl lettering :)
  4. stuvecorp

    stuvecorp LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,246

    Good topic. I am guilty of not doing enough in the marketing area, especially truck lettering or job signs. I personally hate being hit over the head with blatant marketing efforts.

    One of my pet peeves with lettering is graphics that you can't read(bad color combo, too busy) unless you are standing right there.
  5. irrig8r

    irrig8r LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,553

    I have the required info on my signs: my official business name, license number, city, but intentionally no phone number, and all those things are smaller than my logo.

    The biggest, most memorable thing they see is my logo, which is also my url, sprinklersplus.com (no www) in the same style as my avatar.

    I have intentionally left off a phone number. Phone numbers change, urls rarely do. Where I live, the majority of people have internet access. I can give them more info abnout what I doom there than in a phone answering machine announcement, therefore weeding out people who are looking for services I don't offer.

    The website is still a work in progress, but it gets the message across.

  6. DVS Hardscaper

    DVS Hardscaper LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,601

    Now what Gregg is referring to when he says that he only has his logo on his trucks is what is called 'Name Branding'.

    And name branding is a form of marketing. Years ago I swore I would never do anymore than our logo, as that is all we had on the trucks. However, at that time there were 4 of us hardscape contractors in the area to choose from! Now, I bet there are over 25 people calling theirselves "hardscapers"!

    A few years ago I had a graphic artist design our logo. We intentionally kept it SIMPLE, yet I wanted it to reflect a taste for creativity. Last Fall, I too found a way to incorporate *dot com* in our logo.

    And yep! One of my pet peeves is do not us "www" when announcing the web address. That is a thing of the past and just makes things busy. Years ago when the internet first came out and the news would refer people to look at a website, I remember hearing people say "you need to type a lower case T and an upper case B, all with NO spaces"!

    Truck lettering is a form of outdoor advertising. And you CAN'T tell a story with outdoor advertising. So yes, the internet is a great way to get your message out! But first you need to capture your audience. And this is done by truck lettering, yard signs, 4-color brochures, 4-color business cards, etc.

    I have a professional voice over person that did our anwering system announcement. We have a weekday announcement, a weekend announcement, and a generic announcement for holidays. I didn't cost me a dime! I have a buddy that used to work in the radio broadcast field. He has a good speaking voice, is well educated, and knows how to put words together. And in the announcement he refers folks to "go online at outdoor finishes dot com and see how we can make your project happen". Our new callers are always impressed with the answering announcement. I get compliments weekly.


    Last edited: Oct 26, 2008
  7. NewHorizon's Land

    NewHorizon's Land LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 687

    What should be on a job site(yard) sign? How big are you going 4' x 4' or just the corroplast(sp) signs on the metal stakes?
  8. DVS Hardscaper

    DVS Hardscaper LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,601

    I'm still playing with yard sign size. We currently have the normal, real estate size, metal signs. But I think they're too small. The disposable signs are nice and effective, nothing wrong with using them. However, I bolt brochure boxes to our yard signs so the neighbors can grab our brochures, and with the disposable signs - you can't attach a brochure box.

    I really like that New Horizons logo :) It's simple and it's VERY clean. I like the green at the top. I'm no going green freak, but that ties in nicely with the "going green" trend.
  9. oakwdman

    oakwdman LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,297

    DVS, how important would you say it is to have somewhat of a "trademark" to your trucks or equipment? Such as having a bold paint color on the trucks with just a simple logo. I like to think back of when i lived in minnesota and my dad worked for Bachman's. They have all purple trucks and it didnt really matter if you saw thier name on the trucks, if you saw that purple you knew it was them. Reason I ask is because eventually I would like to get my trucks painted the same green of the leaf in my logo. I think it really sets you apart from the competition.
  10. DVS Hardscaper

    DVS Hardscaper LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,601

    Considering there are 1 billion white trucks on the road - catchy color schemes are certainly a positive way to go. See, everyone here are competing contractors. (meaning thats what we do for a living, not meaning that we're competing with one another here) So it's instinct for us contractors that when we see a white truck, we instantly check it out to see who it is. But the average consumer is so accustomed to seeing white trucks in their travels - that they don't even bother to look at them.

    In the DC metro area you will see some companys of different trades with some damn catchy paint schemes. Such as a pooper scooper company called 'Doody Calls', their website shows blue trucks, but all I have seen on the road have been lime green trucks, that are visible from a mile away. Another company is 'College Hunks Hauling Junk'. The young owners are becoming known nationally, and were just recognized by INC.COM. Their trucks have dump bodies that are painted bright orange. These color schemes are part of both referenced company's name branding, Thus like you said, as soon as you see the colors - you identify those colors with those companys.

    Anything other than white or stock colors offered by the manufacturer are going to capture attention. Although, I believe the more psychodellic the color - the more people will remember your company. I know of one guy with a residential mowing busines, and the first thing he does when he gets a new truck is he drops it off at Maaco and gets them painted bright red.


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