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Branded vehicle with custom decals

Branding Your Vehicle: The Ultimate Guide

Branding your work vehicle is an easy form of advertising that works.

Not only can throwing some vinyl graphics on your work truck gain you a few leads here and there, it helps to build authority and trust with your customers – two things that should be at the heart of your marketing strategy.  But just like anything else, it will only be effective if executed properly.

In this article, I’m going to discuss the many benefits of branding your vehicle as well as what to consider before you do.  I’ll then provide some different options available and offer insights that I have gained through the experience of branding my own handyman truck.


As a handyman, you will be driving a lot.  It would be a shame to waste all of those miles when you could be promoting your company at the same time with almost zero long term effort.  Here are a few benefits of a well branded vehicle.

#1 – Gain Brand Awareness

Customers are more likely to hire you if they are familiar with or aware of your brand.  People like to go with what they know.  By simply driving around, you are getting hundreds of eyes on your brand every day, effectively building your brand awareness.

That lady in the Lexus sitting behind you at the stoplight may not need a handyman today, but if she finds you online when she does, she will recognize you and probably call you.

#2 – Builds Trust

I’m always talking about building trust with customers because I think it is the single most important factor in a customer’s decision to hire.  By simply displaying your company information on your vehicle, it helps demonstrate that you are serious and established.  You are showing your customer that this is what you do and you take it seriously.  A well branded truck will help a customer to trust that you will do good work for them.

#3 – Increases Authority

When a random stranger sees your branded work truck, they will almost always assume you know more than they do.  Even if you don’t.  They are more likely to respect your knowledge and listen to what you have to say.  The more authority you have, the more you can influence others.  Possessing influence helps you sell and just feels good.

#4 – Cheap Advertising

Branding your vehicle can be a cheap way to advertise a particular service or running special you may have with your business.  Carpet companies do a great job advertising specials on their vans.  Usually they will have some sort of one room carpet cleaning special for $39.99 or something similar pasted all over their vans.  Why?  Because it works.  They may not make money on that one room, but you can damn sure bet they’ll profit from the rest of the house.

Designing the Graphics

Now that you understand the many benefits, it’s time to get to work.

Step #1 – Define a goal.

What are you trying to achieve?  Are you trying to gain new customers while driving down the highway?  Are you trying to drive traffic to your website?  Or are you just trying to look more professional or established when you pull up to a customer’s home?

If you are looking to gain new customers, then I recommend going big with your lettering.  Ideally, a customer would be able to read  the word “handyman” and your phone number from at least a hundred yards away.  You need to get their attention and don’t forget to compel them to call you.

If you just want to look more pro to existing customers, some vinyl decals on the driver and passenger doors will do the trick just fine.  In this case, you may be just trying to separate yourself from the weekend handyman without driving around a gigantic advertisement.

Step #2 – Choose the content

There is no right answer when it comes to putting your company info on your truck.  I’ve seen people with just a name and website and I’ve seen others with their name, logo, phone number, website, and a list of services.

If you’re goal is to generate new business, the most important thing is to clearly say what you do and how to contact you.  If you are handyman, the word handyman better be big and in the customers face, especially if it’s not in your company name.  It needs to be very obvious what you do and how to contact you.

As I mentioned earlier, advertising a running special is a great way to get customers to take action and call you.  This could be something like $35 off your first service or something similar.

What makes you unique?  Do you specialize in a particular service that you know you are the best at?  Make sure and highlight that if you believe it will bring you the right customers.

Step #4 – Layout the Design

If you have photoshop or a similar photo editing program, you can do this step yourself.  However, if you are planning on doing something advanced, I’d recommend having a professional do it.

That being said, here’s how I did it.

First, I went and took some pictures of my truck in front of a solid background with good lighting.  I just drove around town until I found a good spot.  Then I took photos of the back and sides from about 100 feet away so the truck shape wasn’t distorted.

Once I had the images, I went home and used a photo editing software and inserted my logo and other text I wanted displayed.  I just messed around with it until I found a layout that looked good and achieved my goal, which was to look more professional and increase my brand awareness.

Once I had a layout that I liked, I sent the images over to a local media printing company (the same place that embroidered my logo on my shirts) and had them print the vinyl graphics I needed.  They took some measurements of my truck to ensure they printed the right size and a few days later I picked up my vinyl and installed it myself.  Total cost: $300.

Vehicle Branding Options

Magnetic Car Signs

This is by far the easiest and most cost effective way to brand your work truck.  You can go to sites such as BuildaSign.com and quickly and easily create a sign.  It usually costs about $40/sign plus shipping.

This is a good option if you want the ability to take off the signs and drive the truck as a personal vehicle.  However, I believe these looks far less professional than vinyl decals.  It’s a good option and is better than nothing.  But, if you can afford it, I’d go with something more permanent and pro such as….

Vinyl Graphics (recommended)

This is the option that I went with and it ended up costing me about $300.  The only cost I had was the cost to print the vinyl since I designed everything myself and installed the graphics.

This is a semi-permanent solution that gives you the ability to look very professional and established.  If applied correctly, the vinyl will last up to 8 years (from what I’m told).  Mine have been on my truck for over 3 years and have no signs of deteriorating, despite the fact that I’ve taken them through the car wash several times.

Custom Vehicle Wrap

If you want to get really crazy, you can go with a full vehicle wrap.  From what I’ve seen, this will typically cost around $3,000 depending on several factors.

Vehicle wraps aren’t cheap, but they are a great way to get some attention and promote your business.

Regardless of how you decide to brand your truck of van, I highly encourage you to do so.  It only takes a small amount of effort up front and it’s a great addition to your handyman marketing strategy.

Any Questions?

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  • steve April 4, 2013

    Big D,
    Had the same idea,however was warned that 1 thieves now know what is in that truck(tools) and 2 they have had local city inspectors knocking on the door of customers looking for your license to do work in THEIR city! Not sure what to do.
    Steve

    • Big D April 4, 2013

      Hi Steve,

      Ya, those are definitely things you should think about. If you have a business license in the city you are working in and you are working within the scope of what you are allowed to do depending on your handyman license, the inspector issue shouldn’t be a big deal. However, I understand that isn’t always the case.

      I personally park my truck in my garage overnight so I can leave tools in it. The only reason I don’t have a truck rack is so I can still park in the garage. Even if you don’t have branding on your truck, I’d still be concerned about thieves and wouldn’t leave my truck packed with tools outside overnight.

      Where do you live, Steve?

      Big D

      • steve April 6, 2013

        Big D,
        Cleveland,Ohio area,do I need to say more.We have about 50 suburbs each requiring their own license,can get real expensive.

        • Big D April 7, 2013

          Yes, paying for 50 different licenses will put you out of business fast. Here is what I would do. (I’m not a lawyer and this is certainly not legal advice)

          First, I’d target the suburbs with the nicest homes that are closest to me directly. Maybe with some well made door flyers and a discount for homes in those areas. After spending time building clients in those small areas, you’re likely to have enough to support your business from 2-3 suburbs. You can then go get the appropriate licensing for those suburbs and then brand your vehicle and only offer services to those suburbs.

          You’ll also save time and money in the long run by not having to drive as far.

          Just my two cents. I hope it’s helpful.

          Big D

          • Steve April 13, 2013

            Big D,
            After much thought I will be useing a magnetic sign,so I can remove when I feel the need. Also did you ever think to park your truck in the parking space in front of the door at Home Depot on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon?
            Steve

          • Big D April 13, 2013

            Good call. The magnetic sign is a great compromise for your situation.

            That’s a good idea but no, I’ve never tried parking for advertising. Sounds like it could work though! Let me know how it works out if you try it.

            Big D

  • Andrea Velasquez April 10, 2013

    Great pieces of information. If you use car wraps for the reason of advertising your brand or store then it is a very great idea. People see it everyday and for sure it’ll make them curious of your product. On the other hand, those mentioned information above is really very nice. You have to know your goals and to know your subject too. From that you’ll get an idea of what kind of design your car wraps would be.

  • dean May 5, 2013

    I went with 3 magnetic signs from BuildaSign.com. 12″ x 24″ .
    One for the tailgate of course.
    My college student son did the custom graphics and uploaded it to
    the site, all for $67 delivered. There was a promo code offered for a discount
    at the time. Very fast service like one week.
    Cheap advertising and professional looking.

  • derek October 27, 2013

    Thanks for the wonderful site, i am definetely looking at starting my own business.
    thanks

  • Jeff Briggs January 30, 2015

    Do you guys all have separate personal vehicles. I personally have magnetic signs right now, but I agree with Big D that it isn’t the most professional look. My only fear to go for the custom lettering is that I also use my truck for personal use. I can see how my sales could increase as I would constantly be advertising but I would also constantly need to “on”.

  • Hector Rodriguez June 30, 2015

    Hello All.
    I have a question for you who use magnetic signs, vinyl lettering and/or partial/full wraps to promote your services. The question is: How much has your business increased since the implementation of mobile advertising? Have you notices a jump in service calls? 10%, 50% 100%? Thanks in advance. Love what you are doing Big D.

    • Dan Perry July 1, 2015

      Hey Hector,

      I’ve heard of some companies that say their mobile advertising is their best advertising. Listen to the interview I did with Christy Webber. (It’s under the podcast category.)

      Other companies get very little results from it. This is something that largely depends on how well it is done. Putting a magnet on your truck won’t do much. But doing something that stands out, gets attention, and resonates with your customers will bring you a lot of leads.

      Hope that helps.

  • Silas Knight February 11, 2016

    My dad has his own business, and since he is the only employee, he has to drive his work truck all over the place. I have always told him that “branding” his truck is a good idea, but he never would do it. I think he’ll listen to your points in this article though, especially about building trust. I’ll definitely show him this, thanks!

  • Duane May 9, 2016

    Check your homeowner association deed restrictions before placing permanent non-removable advertising on your vehicle. In my neighborhood any type of advertisement on your property including vehicles is against the deed restriction and the homeowners association will take you to court to force removal of the advertisement from your property, be it a sign in your yard or on your vehicle.

    • rjcraig May 22, 2016

      Go with the vinyl lettering, use blank magnetic “signs” the color of your vehicle to cover the vinyl lettering when needed “my truck is white, easy to cover up”. Also dont affiliate your company vehicle with your personal opinions. For example republican or democrat political stickers, you can loose business displaying personal opinions on your vehicle, remain neutral displaying/marketing only your business. And always remember “first impressions last”. You defiantly dont want to show up at a new clients home in a dirty vehicle, the same is true for your dress attire. I carry an extra set of clothes and shoes/boots, this helps me avoid apologizing for my appearance.

  • Jason millen June 13, 2016

    Hi Dan,
    I have to say I have been following your posts and listening to your podcasts and what a great service you are giving. I live in England and am very much interested in doing handyman services, you are truly inspiring and give confidence in your advise. I think the only thing stopping me is I have a secure, well paid job (not enjoying it) and very worried things might not work out. One day I will take the plunge I’m sure. Keep up the great work

    • Dan Perry June 15, 2016

      Thanks for sharing this Jason. I have no doubt things would work out for you, but I understand that it’s hard to leave a job that you are only mildly dissatisfied with. If you get to the breaking point where the pain of staying at that job is greater than the fear of taking the leap, you will be ready to enjoy the freedom of owning your own business.

  • On Demand Supplies July 20, 2016

    we are going to improve the van taking into account your advice and step,
    make it more eye caching

  • Tom January 12, 2017

    Been thinking about putting some better graphics on my vehicle for brand recognition in my town. These are some good tips to follow thanks!

    Tom

  • Adrienne February 25, 2017

    For anyone who is considering a magnetic sign- I am just now reading some of the posts regarding the purchase of magnetic signage for work vehicle advertising. As I read through the previous posts, I realize that many of them are fairly dated. As such, some of the individuals who posted related comments may have already purchased and applied this type of sign to their vehicle(s). To you- I wish I discovered this site sooner! I had a terrible experience with magnetic signage! I wish I could have warned you!

    On a positive note, perhaps what I share here today will be useful to one (or some) of you and will save you the disappointment and trouble we went through…

    As a show of support to my husband and of pride in our accomplishment- creating a successful, rapidly growing business entity- I purchased 2 identical magnetic signs from Vistaprint with our company name, logo, and contact info for him to put on his GMC Savanna work van. He proudly snapped the signage onto each side of his vehicle and drove around proudly advertising our business.

    The magnets were not on all that long, approximately 6 to 9 months, when my husband began to notice rust forming all along the outline of each magnet! Fortunately, he caught it somewhat early in the process. But, indeed, one could clearly observe that the magnets were causing rust underneath and around the perimeter of each!

    It is possible that Vistaprint uses a particularly cheap or damaging material for their magnetic signs. It is also possible that any large magnet that is applied to the body of a vehicle will cause rust damage. I couldn’t state with distinct specificity the reason why the magnetic signs were causing such rust damage to his van. I just don’t know. I am not an expert of magnets. But, what I very clearly do know is that it’s not a risk either of us are ever willing to take again!

    So, this is my public service announcement! Beware! Magnetic signs may rust your vehicle! This may not be the best choice for using your vehicle to advertise your business!

  • Phil March 24, 2017

    Any suggestions on how to go about getting the necessary specs for a vehicle in order to brand it? I imagine it’s more intricate than just getting a tape measure and giving it a general size up – do you need to get hold of blueprint specs?

    • Dan Perry March 24, 2017

      Only if you’re doing a vehicle wrap. In that case, I’d recommend having a pro do it.

      If you’re just doing a few graphics, you can just use a tape measure.

      For mine, I took a picture of the side and back of my truck from a distance and then used photoshop to design the graphics. I took a few measurements of my truck so I could scale it accurately. Then, I send the details over to a print shop and installed them myself. It was a fun project, but I kept things pretty simple.

  • Max Jones April 7, 2017

    I’ve been really interested in vehicle advertising and was wondering what the tips to do so would be from the pros! I really like the idea of choosing what content you want on your custom vehicle graphics. I think that there should be an obvious explanation of what services are available, and contact information.

  • Braden Bills May 2, 2017

    My friend is trying to find a way to brand his car for his business. He doesn’t want to spend the money for a full vehicle wrap, though. It makes sense that a car magnet would be a good idea!

  • Dane May 3, 2017

    This is the best guide so far. It has a lot of points. A car wrap can be both a powerful and cost-effective way to advertise your business. Because of their uniqueness, vehicle wraps get noticed more often than other types of advertising.

  • Sandra Hexner June 27, 2017

    I’m hoping to get a surprise for my dad. He is thinking about starting a handyman business, but doesn’t know where to get started. I want him to have great advertising and your point that truck lettering is a great way to advertise and run specials. I’m not sure if he’ll pull the trigger, but you convinced me this is exactly what I’ll surprise him with if he does. Thanks!

  • Deborah Scott July 9, 2017

    Great article Dan and great discussion. There are so many good points in here. It is important that business owners know there are risks and hazards associated with magnetic signs. You can expose yourself to serious liability and potentially damage your vehicle with magnetic signs. You can learn more here. https://www.rivetingwraps.com/blog/5-risks-and-limitations-of-magnetic-vehicle-signs

  • Paul Ware August 10, 2017

    Hi I have just started up my handyman business and have a crappy old van at present. It is due for replacement and I like utes with a cab but then there are also vans. I don’t know if posting this here is the right spot so sorry if it isn’t. Any thoughts from you guys and gals on this? Also I am thinking a diesel for the economics of it all.

  • car August 21, 2017

    Awesome post.

  • Talmadge Birdsong September 5, 2017

    I am 77 years old and my Real Estate daughter is encouraging me to start my own Handyman business and cater to real estate agents. Do punch-lists, repair things that come up on inspections etc. She says that everyone keeps the name of their handyman close and don’t share it because they are valuable and they want them available. I have been reading your material all evening and looking at what it takes to get licensed and bonded here in the Seattle, WA area. It seems to me that working with RE agents in this area you could run the wheels off of a vehicle. Without being officially in business and just doing favors for her associates I have done two small jobs and just charged for my trip, time and materials. I could have changed out a furnace but was busy installing a complete heat pump and duct system in Spokane for a friend. In this case, I don’t think I would have trouble finding more work than I could or would want to do. However, I am having a little trouble thinking about how to structure my rates. In this area, it is very easy to spend more time driving to the job than doing the job.

    You seem to have some well thought out ideas and seem willing to share them.

    On one hand, I would like to have signage on the truck just to look professional, on the other hand, it sounds like I don’t need it to attract customers. Even though I really enjoy this kind of work and do a lot of it for friends and family (at no pay), I don’t think that I want to be so busy with a business that it takes up all of my time.

    Any Suggestions or comments?

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