Remember the time when tasting unique food from new locations came with some pretty peculiar compromises? First of all, you had to wait a few weeks to get a reservation at a hot and happening restaurant. When you did make it to the eatery, you had to pay an arm and a leg for the food. More often than not, the dishes you got your hands on came in small portions. In most cases, those small portions weren’t even that special, to begin with. But that didn’t keep your wallet from taking a big hit on your outing for quality grub. For better or for worse, you were ready to do it all again next week. Lather, rinse, repeat – and so went on your life as a food enthusiast.
Thanks to the evolution of the food industry, self-proclaimed foodies like us no longer have to travel to fancy restaurants to get their hands on some culinary delights. New and fresh cooks are now able to present their food to the world with minimal investment through pop ups and mobile restaurants, with branding a food truck being the most popular choice of them all. In fact, food trucks have grown so popular that the industry has clocked a revenue of over $2 billion in the U.S., documenting an increase of 300 percent in the past 3 years.
If you are an aspiring cook and want to share your culinary creations with minimal investment, these statistics are reason enough to start your journey through a food truck. The benefits are too significant to ignore, after all. You aren’t tied to a single location. You are able to bring your food to commercial success. And you are able to reach a wider audience on the street than you would behind the walls of a restaurant. But even with these glaringly obvious benefits, there is one very evident problem that you first need to solve: setting your food truck apart from a plethora of competitors.
Thankfully, that’s where you can make use of some well thought out branding strategies to give your food truck its own identity, and introduce it to your target audience with the flair it needs to succeed. Of course, we understand that doing so is easier said than done. That is why, we have put together a detailed guide on how to brand a food truck for maximum success. The following points will help you set up your mobile restaurant in a way that allows it to attract optimal attention, while letting you enjoy the comfort you need to create exemplary food dishes in peace.
1. Cultivate Your Brand
If you are in the process of starting your mobile eatery, then you may have already thought of an initial mockup of how you are going to go about branding a food truck – your food truck, to be specific.
But if you haven’t, then that’s not a problem either. Learning how to brand a food truck is not an impossible task, even if it seems a little difficult at first. What you need is a clear idea of what your food truck brand is going to look like to its audience, and how it is going to set itself apart from the plethora of other food trucks out there.
As a ballpark of your budget, you can expect to shell out upwards of $50,000 on your food truck investment right off the bat. This cost depends upon your truck’s condition as well as your branding decisions, but this remains the average industry standard at the time of writing. You can start a food truck in as low as $20,000 – but then again, it is not a price that’s set in stone and you mostly get what you pay for in the form of a smaller working space and older vehicle.
With the cost out of the way, the first thing that you should keep in mind while branding a food truck is the authenticity of your brand. If you are going with a forced branding image just to appease a trend or a fad, then it is not going to hold your interest in the long term. The food truck you started with incomparable enthusiasm might just turn into a mundane job for you, and you would feel tired of setting it up every day in pursuit of something that genuinely appeals to you.
To make sure that you are steering clear of this route of waning interest, ensure that the brand image and message you develop is true to your heart and in line with the food you cook. For instance, if your food truck is all about meat, reflect it in your branding and its messaging to be in sync with the idea. Create a menu that shows your interest in the protein, as well as your willingness to turn it into a five-star dish even as you sell it through a food truck.
On the other hand, if you feel connected to the vegan diet and lifestyle, then make sure to come up with a concept that sells your passion to like-minded people. Be bold about your message for what you are offering through your truck, and make it evident through your branding. Highlight what draws you towards the idea, and why it matters to you.
These two examples from vastly different food groups are there to show you what kind of imagery and visual concepts you can use to sell two completely contrasting food ideas through a brand. Simply put, the key to learning how to brand a food truck lies within your mind, and your personal connection to the food you cook. It’s as clear as that.
Keeping in line with this ideology, if you are big on the ideas of certain desserts, cuisines, or ingredients, cultivate your branding message to reflect that. If a certain dish and its local variations fascinate you, make it the star of your food truck and its branding. Combining your food along with your personality will go a long way into helping you create a brand that appeals to a potentially loyal customer base, while also letting you stay true to yourself.
2. Develop a Design
Once you have a rough idea of your branding as well as its message, the next step will come in the form of developing a tangible design for your food truck. Here, colors will matter as much as your personality, so make sure that you are giving this phase all you have in terms of creativity and personal ideas.
The best way to branding a food truck with design is to reach out to a professional designer for the job. You will need a professional to install your branding or art on the truck eventually anyway. Keeping this in mind, it’s a good idea that you get your designs done through them from the start. Not doing so will save you a few bucks, but it has more chances of ending up as a botched branding fail that you will not want your budding business to associate with at all.
Keeping this in mind, make sure that your business plan accommodates the costs for professional design services. It’s because a food truck that’s set up without professional design will not be able to attract the same level of attention that a well-designed vehicle in the same line of business does. High-quality designs with depth will always have a more captivating aura than solid color slapped onto your truck’s body.
It doesn’t mean that you have to go with an over the top design to attract attention to your truck. Just stay true to your original brand concept, and trust a professional designer to take care of the rest. If they think that your truck will do better with a simple design, try to keep an open mind to the suggestion. Similarly, if they think that the concept needs to have a more dramatic flair to it with the help of added design elements to your truck, consider that too. Eventually, you need to move forward with a design that is a collaborative effort, so your designer’s expertise and your own input bring forward a design that’s not blindsided by any bias. This is crucial in learning how to brand a food truck.
3. Give Your Menu the Top Billing
If you are selling your culinary offerings through a food truck, it is safe to assume that you are focusing on a limited number of items. It is not a bad thing. In fact, it is better to focus on quality versus quantity, especially when you are running your operations from a space that’s as limited as a food truck. But this is where you need to make sure that your chosen selection of items is getting the star treatment that it deserves.
If you have done your research about branding a food truck, you might have already seen how most food trucks feature the names of their signature dishes right on the exterior branding of their vehicle.
This is a very effective way of telling people what your food truck is all about even when it’s not in service mode and simply driving through the city streets. Those who are in nearby neighborhoods know instantly what your food truck is bringing to their area, and if the offer appeals to them, you can expect their visit in a day or two of first making contact with them through just passing by on the street.
In fact, this goal for making an immediate connection with your target market should be your top priority while learning how to brand a food truck. That is why, make sure that you are working with your designer to make your truck noticeable and have its offerings stand out even when you are not poking your head through the service window. This goes a long way in terms of visual marketing and brings customers to you more successfully than you might think at first.
4. Don’t Forget Your Contact Info
Branding elements such as your color, font, and logo are extremely important. If these aspects are not distinctive enough, then your food truck might just get lost in a sea of other vehicles that sell similar or even different food through them every day. But just as important as your brand’s name and its contact information, especially if you are planning to make deliveries through your little food operation.
This is why, when branding a food truck, most cooks make it a point to put their phone number along with their brand name in a very prominent manner. Some go as far as to note their website on the food truck. This is an ingenious way to market to potential customers on the road who might not be ready to buy your food in the very specific moment they see your truck, but who would not oppose the idea of trying what you are selling on your next contact.
Make sure that your contact information is clear and concise, and the actual mediums of contact you are listing on your truck are accessible and have accurate information. This is a key point to remember as you make your way through how to brand a food truck since it gives you more recognition than you can simply get from people who are able to visit your truck in a given moment.
By using these tips, you will be able to make the most out of your food truck and its many little offerings. Just ensure that you are clear about your messaging, your passion for food, and how your food truck means more than a job to you – and you will be able to attract people who appreciate your love for cooking and what you have to offer to the world through it.