Gearing up to rebrand your fleet? 5 strategies to fuel your implementation plan

Gearing up to rebrand your fleet? 5 strategies to fuel your implementation plan


Ian Thomson, Alexandra Ciesielka

Rebranding your organization’s fleet of vehicles presents an exciting opportunity to create a large-scale impact on your audience and community. After all, whether you’re transitioning an asset as simple as a golf cart or as complex as an aircraft, your fleet serves as a mobile billboard for your business. As such, it plays a central role in raising awareness, communicating your brand promise, and establishing your credibility and legitimacy.

Of course, this high level of visibility means it’s critical to roll out your implementation without a hitch. But unfortunately, it’s not as easy as simply deciding what you want your fleet to look like and converting everything in a uniform manner.

There are many mitigating circumstances that must inform your conversion strategy, including regulatory requirements, the age and condition of each asset, and the need to keep the fleet operating in service of your business during brand transition. So, in order to achieve the impact you desire at a reasonable cost, it’s essential to take the following steps early in the planning process.

1. Determine which fleet-related assets to rebrand (and the extent of the brand application)

Converting your fleet is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor. For one thing, your vehicles literally come in many sizes and shapes. But beyond that, some may be brand new while others might be nearing the end of their useful life. Some are audience-facing whereas others may function behind the scenes. And of course, certain types are highly regulated and must be dealt with in a specific way.

Each of these scenarios requires a different rebranding approach. Therefore, the first step you should take is to develop criteria around which vehicles to rebrand, which to leave untouched, and how extensive each brand application should be.

It’s impossible to get too granular when creating an inventory of your fleet. The more detail, the better.

An implementation partner like BrandActive can help you make good decisions about your rebranding strategy by asking:

  • Which assets are most visible to your audience? Which are only seen by internal audiences?
  • Is your fleet in good shape? Based on their age and condition, which assets are worth rebranding, and which should be left as-is?
  • Could some vehicles receive a full-scale rebranding treatment while others receive a minimal update?
  • What will happen when we physically remove legacy branding and attempt to replace it? Will the paint chip or peel off? Will it leave any unsightly ghosting that we’ll need to cover?
  • Which materials are best for each fleet type? Are there any regulatory requirements around the types of vinyl to use? Are there rules regarding where materials can and cannot be placed?
  • Is your organization planning large-scale replacement of fleet assets soon? If so, does it make sense to hold off on rebranding those items?

It’s also important to bring a vendor onsite early in the process to assess your fleet, conduct testing and prototyping, and make recommendations about how to handle various scenarios. That way you can chart out your project’s scope in an accurate and informed manner.

2. Compile a comprehensive list of in-scope fleet and related requirements

Once you’ve decided which parts of your fleet are in-scope — and the extent to which you’ll rebrand each vehicle type — it’s time to gather detailed information about every single asset.

It’s impossible to get too granular when creating an inventory of your fleet. The more detail, the better. To that end, plan to capture details like:

  • The types of fleet-related assets in your purview and the quantity of each
  • Any idiosyncrasies that might differentiate one vehicle from another and impact rebranding specifications (a common one is the number of windows on cargo vans)
  • Age, current condition, and operational replacement schedule for each asset
  • Identifying information such as year/make/model, license plate number and or VIN number.
  • Use case (e.g. department), frequency of use, and audience for each fleet type
  • Geographical location for all assets
  • Regulatory requirements to bear in mind
  • Size and shape of the area on each asset where you plan to apply the brand
  • Information about non-traditional assets that might require special attention (satellites for a communications company; ambulances or bloodmobiles in healthcare)

If you don’t already have a robust project management tool in use at your organization, now is the time to invest in one. A good system is absolutely critical in order to track each asset and ensure it receives the brand treatment you intend.

3. Create brand guidelines and standards for each type of fleet (and equip your team to approve them)

Rolling out a consistent, high-quality visual identity on a fleet with numerous specifications and variations can be tricky. It becomes more manageable when you develop precise, clear guidelines outlining exactly what it will take to convert each fleet type.

BrandActive has worked with clients to rebrand fleets of all sizes. Along the way, we’ve developed a few strategies to make this process run like a well-oiled machine. It’s wise to:

  • Take photos of all sides of each type of fleet so vendors can see exactly what they’re dealing with
  • Label photographs with exact measurements (you can’t have too many details here!)
  • Create baseline guidelines that will work for a large percentage of your fleet and further customize your standards based on the differentiating characteristics of each asset
  • Develop a comprehensive style guide so vendors know exactly what colors, fonts, sizes, and materials to use

Finally, make sure to train your marketing and brand team on what is acceptable and what is not. There may be situations that require vendors to get creative and develop a solution that’s as close to your preferred guidelines as possible. Your marketing team needs to know how and when to approve these exceptions to the rules.

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4. Evaluate your vendors to select the best possible partner

Rebranding your organization’s fleet will undoubtedly be expensive. And as is the case whenever you embark on a large-scale project, it’s wise to conduct an RFI/RFP process to secure competitive pricing. This can enable you to achieve economies of scale and realize significant cost savings for your organization.

But cost is not the only factor to consider when evaluating potential vendors. Given the complexity of the work involved, it’s also important to weigh:

  • The expertise potential vendors bring to the table (e.g. their knowledge of material science or their ability to adhere to regulatory guidelines)
  • Their capacity to handle the project, especially if it’s spread across multiple geographical territories
  • Whether or not they have the project management skills and systems in place to successfully plan and roll this out on time
  • Their access to the materials and machinery that will achieve the quality you’re looking for (e.g. vinyl supplies, printer specifications, other installation tools and techniques etc.)

Some organizations have long-standing relationships with vendors who are pillars of the communities they serve. It’s understandable to want to continue partnerships like these. But if you do, be sure these vendors can handle the unique challenges of rebranding your fleet. This is not a run-of-the-mill engagement, and it’s important that the vendors you select have what it takes to set you up for success.

5. Map out a transition timeline that limits downtime for your fleet

Your fleet vehicles play a crucial role in delivering your organization’s goods and services to your audience. Therefore, one significant challenge inherent in converting these assets is finding the time to make the necessary changes. After all, most organizations don’t have the luxury of taking their fleet offline for days or weeks at a time in order to rebrand them.

Putting together an implementation timeline that limits disruption may require you to:

  • Convert fleet-related assets during low-usage times (e.g. overnights; weekends)
  • Ask installers to come on-site to complete the work (rather than sending vehicles away)
  • Update certain vehicles like ambulances one at a time to ensure there are still adequate units on the road

An implementation partner who has managed unique circumstances like these in the past can help you put together a realistic and achievable conversion timeline.

Achieve the “wow factor” your rebranded fleet deserves 

Unveiling your beautifully rebranded fleet is a sure-fire way to grab attention and generate excitement about your organization’s new brand identity. After all, when your fleet looks great, your organization looks great, too.  

That’s why it’s so important to get every implementation-related detail exactly right.  

BrandActive can help you achieve an outcome that creates the impact you’re looking for. So, when you’re ready to get rolling, just reach out. We’d love to help.