Branding for Food Trucks: The Definitive Guide
Deciding how to brand your food truck may be the most important decision you'll face as a food-on-the-go entrepreneur.
A well-branded truck can draw attention to your business all day, every day, everywhere it goes.
Follow our food truck branding guide and your truck will race ahead of your competition.
1. Know Your Brand
Start by taking the time to figure out what your brand is.
Please don't get me wrong – I'm not asking you to make up a brand.
Believe it or not, your brand already exists. You just need to take the time to refine it and clearly articulate it.
If you're thinking of starting a food truck business or already have, you probably have a passion for food. I'm guessing you want to share your unique menu with the world.
You probably also have some sort of personal value system. You might value hard work, honesty, integrity. Maybe you want to help others and make the world a better place with your food.
Whatever your values are – you already have some.
And finally, you have a personality.
You're rebellious or sweet. Maybe both?
You may be casual, playful or formal. Your personality is uniquely you; and, it already exists.
In order to find your brand, these are the places that you should be looking.
1. Examine your menu and cuisine style – what makes it unique? What foods are you excited to make and share?
2. What values are most important to you that you want to see manifested in your food truck business?
3. And which of your personality traits do you want to help define your business?
The best brands are authentic brands. They are derived from the actual passions, values and personality traits of the folks who run the business.
So start looking within.
Photo courtesy of Eat My Truck
2. Lock it Down with a Mission Statement
Now that you generally know your brand, it's time to make it concrete. All of that research and soul-searching doesn't get you much if you don't translate what you've learned into a useable form. Your mission statement should serve as a reminder and a guide for who your business is and what it's about. Use it as a reference whenever you're making decisions about your brand.
Your customers should be able to read your mission statement and say, "Yeah, that sounds like them!"
3. Get Professional Design Help
You wouldn't hire a graphic designer to cook for your customers – because they're not qualified. If your expertise is food, you probably shouldn't do your own graphic design.
So, hire a professional to do your design work.
If you're on a budget but want top-of-the-line results, consider crowdsourcing your branding design. Crowdsourced design allows you to choose from dozens of design options for far less than you would spend at a traditional design studio.
Crowdspring helps small business with their branding every day. In fact, with projects for logos, vehicle wraps, websites, social media assets and clothing design, crowdspring is a one-stop food truck design shop.
Whatever path you choose, working with professional designers will ensure a professional result and help guide you to a clearly communicated visual brand.
4. Your Truck Comes First
Your truck is your best form of advertising – it passively interacts with every customer.
In other words, once your truck's design is complete, it advertises on autopilot 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
A strong, visually appealing, and branded design for your food truck will draw customers in and encourage them to buy.
For this reason, your truck should be the touch point for all of your branding design decisions.
Your truck comes first.
When considering logo design, plan a logo that communicates your brand and also will look amazing at large scale, emblazoned across the side of your truck.
When designing your website, model the website after your truck design.
5. Aim for Immediate Recognition
Every brand wants their designs to be memorable and easily identified. For food trucks, this is even more important than for most businesses.
After all, your business is regularly on the move. Customers may not have the context of a consistent location to help them recognize you. Your truck design needs to serve as a brand ambassador to bridge that gap.
When planning your truck design bear in mind that you always want your truck to be instantly recognizable even from a distance.
A bold color scheme, and large graphics will help loyal customers spot you from far away or across a crowded street. Empanada Sonata's unique bold red splatter design makes it easy to spot and identify.
Make choices that represent your brand as authentically and specifically as possible. Generic design choices are not your friend.
You've got to be bold to stand out from the crowd.
6. Feature Your Menu
Don't forget to make your menu a focal point of your truck's design! Your food should be the star, so don't let a busy design overshadow the menu.
A bold truck design is there to draw the customers to your truck and build confidence in your product. But, without quality grub, a brand is just a hollow promise.
So, direct your customers' eyes to the thing that really matters – your menu.
7. Your Brand is More than Your Truck
While food service should be the main focus of your business (after all, if your food isn't good or your service is poor, there's only so much marketing and branding can do), your business does not end with your truck.
You need to communicate with your customers through a robust web presence. And you need a staff to support and feed your customers.
Your branding should be present and consistent throughout your website, your social media presence and your staff.
8. Your Website is Your Anchor
Your mobile food brand needs a home base where customers can always find you.
While your truck may be out navigating the world, your website is always just a few clicks away from any customer.
You can accomplish this goal with consistent branding. Design your website using the same branding design elements as appear on your truck. This will help customers to recognize and trust your website before they've had a chance to read a single word of content.
9. Build Relationships with Social Media
Your food truck business should have a social media presence. Honestly, in this day and age consumers expect a business to be on social media.
But, social media can provide particular branding benefits for mobile food businesses.
The important things to remember are to brand your social media content authentically and consistently with your overall brand and to update regularly. Customers are attracted to follow social media accounts that are active and offer content of real value.
10. Don't Forget Your Staff
Your staff should personally embody your food truck's brand. They should know your company values and act accordingly. They should understand your brand's personality and embody it.
And, it's up to you to clearly share your brand values and personality with them so that they can succeed in those goals.
It's also up to you to work with your design team to create a branded uniform of some kind to help your staff look the part as well. Does your brand have a t-shirt sorta vibe? Or is it more of a button-down establishment?
Branding your food truck business is no small task. But, this guide is a great place to start.
Katie Lundin is on the customer support team at crowdspring, one of the world's leading marketplaces for crowdsourced logo design, web design, graphic design, product design, and company naming services. She helps entrepreneurs, small businesses and agencies with branding, design, and naming, and regularly writes about entrepreneurship, small business and design on crowdspring's award-winning small business blog.
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