How Well Does Your Fleet reflect Your Brand?
By Amanda | 29-04-2019
How your choice and presentation of company vehicles and drivers can improve or ruin your brand ID
Your Fleet Identity
Brand awareness is a key element in building your business and getting customers to know your product or service. Companies invest a great deal of time, budgets and resources on marketing and conveying a brand identity that is based on values and purpose. Marketers go to great lengths to convey well thought-out brand messages through print, web, social media, events and other platforms. But one of the first touch points that people will see of your brand, if you operate company vehicles, is your fleet. And as we all know, first impressions count.
Make sure that you give your business cars, vans and trucks the same considerations as any other form of communications and you will get more than miles for your money.
Choosing the right vehicle
First of all, start by choosing the right vehicle for your business. Your company vehicles need to be able to do the job you want them to do and therefore they need to be fit for your purpose. But the vehicle is also an extension of your brand and therefore when you are deciding on business vehicles try to match your brand values and purpose to your vehicles. Is your brand more Bentley or Ford, or does it matter? For instance, a charity might want to opt for a moderately priced economy range rather than a prestige car with a hefty price tag so as not to be seen as ‘squandering’ money which could otherwise be spent on the core cause. An eco-friendly company would be advised to choose sustainable vehicles because they sit better with the brand than a fuel guzzling cheaper alternative. A van with a low carbon footprint will make a completely different statement about your business than an old van that omits plumes of smoke as it stands idle at the traffic lights. Make sure that you have at least gone through a process of careful considerations before choosing the right vehicle for you.
Tidy and shiny
Whatever vehicles you choose, your commercial vehicles and drivers should always be kept clean and tidy. The cleanliness and livery of your fleet will make an impact on your customers, something perfectly illustrated by the success of Eddie Stobart. The Eddie Stobart brand was built upon the simple concept of maintaining spotless trucks and ensuring that their drivers were friendly and courteous. When your vehicle is being seen by thousands of potential customers every day it is essential that you maintain it well. Damaged and dusty vans tells people that you are a business who doesn’t care so keep them spotless and your reputation will be too.
Billboard on wheels
It can cost upwards of £500 a month to advertise on a town centre billboard. For a one off payment of £500 you can plaster all four sides of your van with your company branding and if the graphics are professionally produced they will last for a couple of years. Every day there are 10k-35k vehicles at any given time driving up and down the M62, with a massive 100k over the course of a day. That’s a lot of exposure. Whether they are transporting goods up and down the country or parked at the roadside, your business vehicles are prime advertising space that you already have at your disposal, so use them.
When you come to designing the livery for your vehicles, keep in mind that you are using a moving object to carry your message so make sure it is uncluttered, highly visible from a distance and include a contact number or website. More importantly, get the professionals in to design the right livery for you so as to maximise the impact of the graphics. As with the cleanliness of your vehicles it is also imperative that the signage is in good condition to reflect well on your business and be highly visible. Finally ensure that you revisit and refresh your livery from time to time to keep it in line with your brand.
Your vehicles are all sparkling and clean, your livery is clear and fresh, but what about the drivers of your vehicles? Are they strengthening or damaging your brand? Are you doing all you need to make sure that your drivers are the best ambassadors for your business?
The general public are becoming ever more vigilant when it comes to poor, dangerous or downright aggressive drivers, and rightly so. Socialmedia and the wide usage of dash cams are bringing a new aspect of driver accountability into the picture. As a hire company we sometimes receive complaints about bad drivers who are seen in our vehicles via our Facebook pages, usually those out on short-term hire to local businesses. And we take each report very seriously. We make a note of all the details we can including the time, date and location of incidents, we trace which company had the vehicle out on hire, contact the customer to report the complaint and then follow up with the complainant to make sure they have some feedback and know that steps have been taken to ensure that their complaint has been logged and the driver dealt with appropriately. We do this to protect our own brand and also to educate the companies who hire from us. The safer they are, the safer our vehicles are.
Most of the complaints we receive tend to relate to inconsiderate and dangerous driving; tailgating, overtaking, texting or using the phone at the wheel, overuse of the horn, undercutting, throwing litter out of the window, smoking, hogging lanes, speeding and aggressive behaviour.
Our Yorkshire roads are, by design, particularly narrow and we have become accustomed to allowing people to pass and exchanging those daily nods and waves to acknowledge courteous fellow drivers
If you operate a fleet of vans splashed with your own company branding you should be paying attention to your driver’s habits. Safe, respectful drivers are an asset to your business and the way it is perceived. The general public appreciate manners, they respect safety and although they are not likely to tell you, if your drivers are courteous and kind, it will register with them and they will connect the helpful behaviour to your brand. As our highways and byways become increasingly busy and congested, simple courtesy can go a long way to helping your brand image and keeping our roads safe.
On the flip side, rude, aggressive or risk-taking selfish drivers who carry your badge on the side of their vans will definitely create a bad image for your business. Their bad practice becomes your bad practice. It is your company that is now rude and a danger to the public. If your drivers put people and their families at risk, your brand will be held in contempt. Is that the kind of attention you are looking for?
Smart fleet operators will see an opportunity here to strengthen their brand and will educate their drivers to make sure they understand the implications of their actions whilst they are driving.Not only will your drivers’ good practice reflect well on your brand and endear you to potential customers, it will also reduce the likelihood of accidents or disputes, making your job easier and keeping your fleet costs down, including insurance premiums.
You may consider training as a way of improving your drivers’ habits.
The road safety charity Brakerun a series of free pledge webinars and to help you develop your drivers awareness and good practice. Alternatively, you can contact Brake to hire a Pledge Champion to run a two to three hour Pledge workshop for a group of your drivers.
The government are doing their bit to improve safety standards amongst bus, coach and lorry drivers through their programme of CPC training.The Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (Driver CPC) is a qualification for professional drivers which requires 35 hours of periodic training every 5 years to keep Drivers certified and which carries a penalty fine of up to £1,000 for those driving professionally without Driver CPC.
Transport and fleet managers recognise that there is a direct correlation between rushed, overly scheduled drivers and bad driving practice.Planners who plot the daily schedules for deliveries need to allow drivers the time to complete their daily schedule. Driver complaints often occur when drivers are under pressure and have too much to do, and so they drive too fast, without due care and attention in order to complete their daily run. Responsible planning is key to maintaining driver standards.
You’ve invested a lot into building your brand, you don’t want it tearing down because of a little thing called courtesy. Let your drivers be your brand ambassadors and get them up to speed on road etiquette.
To read more about Brake and the work they do to help companies go to http://brakepro.org/take-part/pledge?id=67
For top tips on driver etiquette see https://www.rac.co.uk/drive/advice/driving-advice/driving-etiquette/
Is your business Audi TT or Skoda Superb? What brand matches yours?
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