By Chuck Driskell,
A sizeable fleet branding project is a complex operation with countless variables. With proper planning, and good teamwork, it can run rather smoothly. If poorly planned, it can go off-schedule, and off-the-rails, in a hurry.
Few will argue the value of strong branding on an organization’s fleet. I’ll take it a step further. Companies, organizations, and entities with large fleets should zealously pursue a powerful, cohesive brand statement on their vehicles. Outside of an organization’s people, few other assets have the ability to make such a strong—or poor—impression than its fleet.
The six most common challenges faced by all Fleet Managers
Over my career, I’ve been fortunate to be a part of many large fleet branding projects. Most of these projects involved the following elements:
Certainly, there are many other factors that can come into play. Most of the large jobs I’ve experienced contained these six characteristics.
Whenever my team assesses a potential project, the first question we typically ask is the following: What is the deadline? Of course, that question is followed with a litany of others. The deadline dictates the timeline, and the timeline dictates the tasks.
Two of the biggest pitfalls are rarely discussed as openly as they should be:
If the existing branding is old, or substandard, removal can easily be more time-consuming than subsequent installation. Ask any certified installer about removing old, inexpensive graphics. It can be next to impossible and can blow out a time schedule ad infinitum.
Installation facilities – what questions do I need to ask?
When examining installation facilities, many standard questions apply.
You get the picture. The greatest of these concerns usually revolves around climate control. Most graphics cannot be installed above or below a certain temperature. Too cold and the adhesive won’t adhere. Too hot, and the vinyl stretches and becomes gummy.
Fleet Budget Management
The budget can be addressed through a variety of approaches. Limiting the number of suppliers allows for economies of scale. Specifying the proper materials, and optimizing the yield, is key. Utilizing existing assets, such as garages or covered spaces, saves on site or equipment rental. Nearly every facet of the project can ultimately impact budget.
While I’ve touched on some major issues, perhaps the most critical factor revolves around the age-old activity virtually every organization strives to improve: communication. Let’s assume for a moment you’re the Director of Brand for an organization with 4,200 trucks and vans spread about Louisiana, Texas and New Mexico. Your brand agency has worked with you and your team to perfect a suite of new designs that will be rolled out to your existing fleet.
You’ve made the wise choice to work with GLIMMA on your comprehensive project. GLIMMA has worked with you on specifications and has chosen the vendors. You, your team, GLIMMA, and the vendors have had numerous planning calls as the kickoff day draws closer. Everyone is ready. All of the planning, the creative juices, the late nights will soon yield gorgeous new branding across your fleet.
However, when the field work begins, so do the problems. Garage managers rebel, citing various maintenance conflicts. Drivers don’t deliver their vehicles on time and, when they do, they’ve not gotten their vehicles washed. The vendor’s installers complain that the garages are too cold, or don’t have enough lighting. The problems can go on and on.
Much of this can be prevented by strong communication, throughout your organization. Include the drivers of the vehicles. Include the garage managers. Include maintenance. No, they don’t have to be on every team call, but by including them, by giving them a voice, by listening to their suggestions, they will help you during the project’s most crucial phase: execution.
Long term Fleet Brand Management
Finally, when the job is done, maintaining the graphics properly is the key to extending the life of the fleet’s branding. There are simple steps that can be performed to optimize the life and vibrancy of fleet graphics.
Digital is transforming the way we work in Fleet Brand Management. We often work with our clients on one-off Fleet livery rebrands, but this soon turns into a longer term partnership, as we equip them with the tools they need to keep a full grasp on the status and maintenance requirement of their Fleet.
I’ve barely scratched the surface of the many facets of a fleet branding project. That noted, few things get me more excited than working with a client on a far-reaching, audacious project that others wouldn’t dare attempt.
There’s nothing quite so exhilarating than to stand before a team of capable people, look them in the eye and say, “We pulled this off!”
If you are considering a Fleet rebrand or refresh, or are looking for a longer term Fleet branding management solution, then I’d be delighted to help with free advice to get you started.
Our team has global experience, working with clients such FedEx, Verizon, AT&T, Heineken, C&A, DPD, Alitalia and Gate Gourmet, to name a few. Check out our Fleet Branding page to find out more.