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Advertising and marketing are two of the trickiest hurdles that any business or sole trader has to overcome. For contractors and construction companies, time and funding are often in short supply, so costly marketing strategies aren't often viable. When it comes to outdoor advertising in particular, it's not always feasible to pay for something like a billboard - but this is where vehicle branding comes in.

It might not always seem obvious, but for any business, your vehicle is a golden opportunity for advertising and marketing. By installing vehicle graphics, whether you operate a car, van or a fleet of trucks, you can increase your visibility and reach countless potential new customers. Let's take a look at why and how this is the case...

What is vehicle branding?

It might seem fairly self-explanatory, but it's worth touching on what vehicle branding actually is. Often, when you see a trade vehicle, it will be adorned with graphics displaying the branding and contact details of the business the vehicle belongs to.

The graphics themselves are almost always printed, in large format, onto vinyl - this is then adhered to the vehicle in question (by an expert installer, usually) and remains in place until either the graphics become damaged or new branding is required. However, high quality vinyl can last for years and more often than not its removal is a strategic decision by the owner.

These kind of graphics communicate essential information - usually the name of the business, the logo, and any relevant contact details including website, email address, and phone number information. This type of advertising is particularly suited to the construction industry, as the vehicles many contractors and companies use are large and therefore highly visible in nature.

Why is it effective?

Vehicle branding isn't just a sensible idea, it's a golden opportunity. This is true for a few reasons, but the main one is because if a contractor or a business already operates a vehicle (or a fleet of vehicles), then they already have access to this invaluable form of marketing. In very little time, it's possible to go from having zero marketing in place, to a constant and highly visible moving billboard.

When your vehicle is in operation, it will provide as a way of generating new awareness of your business and services, everywhere you travel. For sole traders, word of mouth is also a vital resource, and increasing your visibility in the areas in which you work can generate conversation, and make you a 'go-to' option for your particular trade in that area.

Even when your vehicle is parked, it still offers an invaluable resource. Stationary branded vehicles serve to galvanise your reputation and 'presence' in an area - you don't need to be on the move for other vehicles to drive past and notice your branding!

Vehicle branding is cost-efficient

One of the most appealing things about branding your vehicle with a set of graphics is how cost-effective it is. While the actual budget you'll need to dedicate will naturally depend on the print supplier you choose - and the number and size of the vehicles you're branding - this is almost always a one-time cost.

With high quality vinyl, your graphics won't need to be replaced for years and your branding will remain in place as a perpetual 24/7 advertisement. This scales with the more vehicles you operate - if you opt for an entire fleet of truck graphics, your potential exposure could be massive.

This is in stark contrast to other forms of outdoor advertising (which cost a significant amount, and usually only involve short campaigns that last just a few weeks).

Social Proof and the Rule of 7

This isn't all just hearsay either - branding a vehicle with graphics fits in with leading marketing theory, too. In particular, the concept of social proof and the famous 'rule of 7' are particularly relevant.

Social proof is the theory that consumers are more likely to make a purchase if they regard a brand, product or service as 'validated' by other consumers. In other words, people are more likely to buy something if they see other people buying it first.

When it comes to construction and contracting, if potential clients see a branded vehicle parked outside a site where work is taking place, or even if they just see it on the road, they'll make the connection that other people are using your services. This is more likely to lead to them seeing you as a valid option for their work. If your vehicle is unbranded, they'll never make that connection. They won't even know who you are.

The rule of 7 simply states that a consumer may need to see a business or offer at least seven times before they begin to really notice and think about it. If your branded vehicle drives around a neighbourhood regularly, people will see your business details again and again. And they'll be more likely to turn to you if they need the services you offer.

How to go about it?

When it comes to actually making your graphics a reality, there are a few things you'll need to figure out. This is a huge topic in itself (and there are plenty of great guides out there that deal with it directly!) but we thought it would be useful to touch on a few of the most important things to consider...

1. Keep your graphics simple

Whether you're outsourcing your graphic design or doing it yourself, the simpler your branding and imagery the better. Don't use lots of text, make sure it's big, bold, and easily readable from a distance. Less is definitely more!

2. Don't use copyrighted imagery

It's usually not a great idea to use photographic imagery in your graphics anyway (they have a tendency to look messy and a little amateurish), but if you plan to, make absolutely sure you have the right to use any images you incorporate - either by taking them yourself, sourcing Creative Commons or public domain imagery, or otherwise acquiring licensing rights.

3. Carefully consider your print supplier

Different print suppliers will be able to offer different products, vinyls, and qualities of print - all for different price points. Be sure to consider your options carefully, and take note that the cheapest supplier may offer a product that won't last as long.

4. Plan for installation

If you're just having one vehicle wrapped, this usually won't cause too much of a problem - you should be able to have the graphics installed quickly, in one sitting. But if you operate more than one van or truck, or even a fleet, you'll need to be careful about planning the installation process, as the vehicles will be out of operation when the graphics are being applied.

5. Make sure your vehicle is in good condition

It can be difficult to apply graphics to a van or truck that is damaged, rusty, or even dirty, so make sure you get it cleaned and serviced before taking it for installation. You should be able to consult your print supplier about this, and determine anything that may need to be addressed before graphics are applied.
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