Building an auto services brand is about your determining your identity, your values, and how you want customers to see you. Basically, building a brand is about more than installing signage on your building and buying matching shirts for your team.
It’s also about showing what you have to offer customers beyond replacing tires, fixing dents and cleaning brake rotors. Your auto service marketing should convey to customers that your business is memorable, trustworthy and unique.
We’ve got 15 top tips to building strong auto services branding.
1. Identify your business’s values.
Your company’s values are the driving force behind how you conduct business. So it makes sense you’d need to start here when building your brand.
Many consumers dread the thought of buying a new car. Car dealers are infamous for using pushy sales tactics and shady pricing structures. So, if you run a used car dealership, your core value could be creating a hassle-free, honest environment for your customers.
Your core values should dictate business decisions like hiring, and they’ll also help you get started building your automotive business’ brand.
2. Find your target audience.
If you don’t have a good idea of who your ideal customer is, and what they need, it’ll be impossible to market effectively.
Find trends in your customer demographics. What kind of vehicles do your customers drive? Where do they live? What issues bring them to your business? These are questions you should answer, so you can shape how you brand your business to them.
If you do custom body work, your target audience will be different from that of a regularly scheduled service shop. Brand your business with your audience in mind.
3. Determine what sets your business apart from competitors.
If you struggle to know where to start, research your competition. Don’t just look at what the big brand automotive brands are doing. Look at local competitors to see where they do well, where they come up short, and how your business can shine.
Does another tire shop within a 30-mile radius of yours offer complimentary tire pressure checks and air fills with any tire service? If not, use that to set your tire shop apart from the rest. Find these differentiators, and you’ll find smart branding niches.
4. Craft a marketing message you can drive into the ground.
Now, let’s get started actually building your brand. It’s time to craft your marketing message. This is the one- or two-sentence phrase you’ll use to build all of your marketing materials and frame how you talk to customers. And it better be one you like, because like any good vehicle, you’ll want to stick with it for as long as you can.
Rather than focus on what your business does, focus on how the service you offer improves your customers’ lives.
For example, it’s awesome you use the best synthetic motor oil in your oil changes, but what’s in it for your customers? Don’t overwhelm them with technical terms. If your oil changes improve their vehicle’s performance and save them engine maintenance costs down the road, say that instead.
5. Keep your business slogan short and catchy.
There are a lot of auto services businesses with slogans you might be familiar with. Midas has “Trust the Midas Touch,” and Meineke has “On With Life.” These are great examples of what your business slogan should be — short and easy to remember.
When writing a slogan for your auto services business, remember your marketing message and differentiators from the competition. Also consider what emotional impact your slogan has on your audience. For example, AutoZone’s slogan, “Get In the Zone,” creates a sense of urgency that entices consumers to act.
6. Rev up staff.
Your staff is an extension of your business, so they need to be on board with your branding.
Make sure your staff understands your marketing message and commits it to memory. Motivate them to live it and breathe it every day. If your staff believes in the values your business stands for, it helps guide their decisions and makes them great brand ambassadors.
7. Define your brand’s voice and tone.
Think of your brand as a person. Is that person casual, or more formal? What kind of attitude does that person exude? Is it funny, or is it more matter-of-fact? Are they playful or more serious and trustworthy? Ask yourself these questions to determine your brand’s voice and tone.
If your business restores classic cars, you may have a more classic voice and tone than a business that modifies newer cars. It’s all about your audience and how you want them to view your business. Don’t mix different voices and tones to match different audiences, or you’ll risk looking inconsistent.
8. Build a memorable logo.
A strong business logo stays etched in consumers’ minds. And it inspires positive or negative feelings, depending on how you design it.
Hire a designer who knows what they’re doing, rather than throwing together a logo in Microsoft Paint or with Clip Art. Though it’s not cheap or free, a good logo shouldn’t cost more than a couple thousand bucks. And it’ll last.
Strong auto services business logos use:
- Simple, easy to read typefaces
- Conservative, masculine colors like red, blue, white and gray (but they don’t have to)
- Movement in their design, or a visual representation of vehicles
9. Install smart signage.
Your external signage choices can make or break the traffic you generate from passers by. For branded signage, make it sure it’s clear what your business does, stands out from the building’s exterior, and is noticeable from the street.
Smart signage is:
- Bright, either with color or lighting
- As large as you can get away with
- Simple, using no more than 2-3 brand colors
- Easy to read from afar, with limited details and shading
- Descriptive, with words like “Oil Changes,” “Tire Rotations,” and “Tune Ups”
10. Shell out for some promo items.
Paying to put your brand on anything can be pricey. But having branded promotional items like pens, shirts and magnets, can go a long way in establishing your auto services business and building brand recognition in your local market.
Even the way your staff presents itself is part of your business’ branding. If your team wears branded shirts or shop uniforms (and they should), make sure they reflect the design elements you choose for your brand. Stick to 1-2 clean, clear designs that prominently feature your logo or auto business’s company name.
11. Drive consistency through branded marketing materials.
From mailers to digital marketing channels like your emails, your marketing materials should have a similar look and feel across the board. This applies to your brand colors, text, logo and slogan. Consistency builds brand recognition.
12. Align your website with your brand identity.
Boost your auto services business branding with a solid web presence online. Your business website is your chance to let customers know what you’re all about. It should display the same design elements as any physical marketing materials you have.
When you write for your website, let your business’s voice and tone show through in your web copy.
13. Fire on all cylinders with social media presence.
If your target audience spends time on social media, establish an online presence there too. Instead of trying to use every channel, think about which social platforms your customers use, and focus on those.
Stay fresh in customers’ minds by posting new content regularly so your brand stays relevant. And if customers engage with you on social media, don’t ignore them — respond!
14. Fuel your brand with helpfulness.
Don’t let a sales pitch be your only communication with customers. Try putting helpful content that lends authority to your brand on your website and social media pages.
Run an auto body and paint shop? Upload a video with tips to help customers prevent paint chips. Do you do general auto maintenance? Upload a tutorial showing customers how to check oil, coolant and windshield wiper fluid levels.
You don’t have to teach customers how to do your job. But basic, helpful content goes a long way in earning consumer trust.
15. Be active in your local community.
One of the best auto services business branding techniques is to build relationships in your local community. When you actively help consumers in your own backyard, you build the kind of goodwill that makes your brand memorable.
Sponsor a local school sports team, or donate a free service to a local raffle for charity. It can be something like an oil change or tire rotation, depending on what types of auto services you offer. You’ll perform a good service for your community and create positive awareness for your brand.