How to create a driving school brand to rise above the competition
When you’re ready to tackle serious marketing, the very first step is to look at your driving school brand. Does your school look and feel different than your competitors? Are your points of difference communicated on your website, in your email communications, and even on your cars? Your driving school brand should do all that so you can rise above the competition.
What is brand marketing?
Think about Coca-Cola or McDonalds, both successful giants in field of brand marketing. That signature red color comes to mind with Coca-Cola. When you think about McDonalds, those bright yellow golden arches come to mind, right? Their worldwide recognizable logos are hands-down synonymous with soda or hamburgers.
As pointed out by marketing guru, Neil Patel…
Just look at Kleenex, they’ve done such a great job that a lot of people don’t ask for a tissue, they ask for a “Kleenex”. Similar to how you ask for a coke when you are at a restaurant.
The basics of brand marketing
If you are trying to build a strong brand, think about the problem you are trying to solve and create messaging that breaks down your solution. Put your solution out there so people know what your company is all about.
Good brand marketing highlights your best features and points of difference. It’s what sets you apart from the rest. Your driving school brand should be easily identified on your website, social media, brochures, in your classrooms and lobby, plus on all of your driving school vehicles.
This all sounds great, you’re thinking, but it may also seem overwhelming. However, if you follow my steps, you’ll have your own driving school brand identity before you know it.
Step #1: Driving school brand – Pick a color
The first step to develop a driving school brand is to actually pick a color. Once you have identified a color, the other steps will fall into place. But choose carefully. As posted by 99 Designs, color impacts emotions and behaviors. It also plays an important role in brand identity.
According to Allison Gremillion of 99 Designs, color “draws consumers to products, stirs emotions and has a huge impact on brand recognition.” Warm colors like red, orange and yellow reflect happiness, optimism and energy. Cool colors like blue, green and purple are calming and soothing and good choices to evoke security, health or beauty.
When I first began my quest to find the perfect PMS color for our driving school brand, I checked out what other driving schools near and far looked like. Most websites have no brand identity at all. They use outdated stock photos, old fashioned fonts and a lot of red, yellow or orange color palettes. I knew that I wanted to be different. Very different.
Where to start
My first step was to look at a PMS color chart. PMS is actually an acronym for Pantone® Matching System. The idea behind the PMS is to allow designers to “color match” specific colors. This system has been widely adopted by graphic designers and printers to ensure consistency in printing.
My best advice is to order a physical Pantone® Guide for truest color accuracy. But novices can consult online color guides, like this one from Pantone®.
After weeks of research, I decided to go with Pantone® color 360 U. It’s a bright lime green color that reflects security, yet is very current and stands out among all of our stodgy competitors. My new driving school brand identity all started with a single color.
Step #2: Driving school brand –
How to you want to depict your driving school?
Have you noticed how most driving school websites are bland and just plain boring? Most utilize the wrong colors and evoke a mood of doom and gloom, especially when they use outdated stock photography and fonts.
I wanted my driving school identity to be entirely different than the norm. During one of my networking meetings, I met a freelance graphic designer. Our subsequent lunch meeting resulted in a fresh, new brand identity for my driving school.
Photography versus illustrations
My new best friend told me that I needed to use illustrations instead of photography on my website if I truly wanted to create a driving school brand like none other. Illustrations appeal to teens and help calm the nerves of anxious parents. Because this designer was freelance, he was definitely cheaper than going through an agency.
Over the course of 2-3 years, my designer added new illustrations to my growing bank. We now have about 250 illustrations to use in other projects. Yes, I realize that I hit pay dirt when I connected with my local designer/illustrator. But there are a wide variety of affordable resources to help you create your own driving school brand.
If you just need a graphic designer, consider looking at Upwork, the world’s largest online workplace where businesses connect with professional freelancers. Freelancer.com is another good resource that gives small businesses access to skilled freelancers within seconds. Prices range from $40 for logo design to $140 and up for brand design.
Step #3: Market your driving school brand
So, now you have an idea of your driving school brand that you want to project. Make sure that your logo reflects your brand color and mood. You can use a tagline to express your main point of difference.
After you have a strong logo that reflects your driving school brand, look at your website. Use your new PMS color throughout and make sure it reflects your new identity. Write and develop 4-5 points of difference that you offer that your competition doesn’t.
Points of difference
Is your driving school’s pass rate high? Figure out exactly what it is and put it on your website. Do you offer the latest technology, like smartboards or tablets in the classrooms? If so, let potential customers know that you do on your website. Is your fleet eco-friendly? That’s also a point of difference. Do your instructors undergo more training that the competition? Be sure to point it out.
Do you offer online ordering and scheduling? Believe it or not, many schools do not (which absolutely boggles my mind!). These are all selling points that customers need to know to make an educated decision when picking a school. They should all be reflected in your driving school image.
Driving school brand on your website
In addition to highlighting your driving school brand and image, your website should also be easy to navigate and optimized for mobile use. According to Webninja.com…
Having easy navigation on your website can be the difference between a sale and a frustrated visitor that ends up leaving to find a better website. It can be the difference between having a bounce rate of 10% and 80%.
When analyzing your own website’s navigation, look at the three C’s: Is it clear, concise and consistent? If not, think about having it looked at by a professional web designer.
As posted by Moz.com, mobile optimization is the process of ensuring that visitors who access your site from mobile devices have an experience optimized for the device. Because 8 of 10 Americans depend on their cell phone, if your website isn’t optimized for mobile, you’re missing out on thousands of dollars in revenue.
Driving school brand in your communications
While it’s important to reflect your driving school brand on your website, it’s also equally important to reflect it in all of your communications to current and potential customers. If you’re using an email software program like Constant Contact, be sure to develop an email template that utilizes your PMS color and image.
If you use printed brochures, be sure to update them to reflect your driving school brand. The more people see the same brand image, the more likely they will turn to your driving school when they’re ready to make a purchase. A clear, concise brand will deliver your message throughout time. When a customer is ready to make a purchase, your driving school will be at the top of their mental shopping list.
Driving school brand in your office
What do your lobby and classrooms look like? Is your driving school brand reflected here too? If not, consider giving both an updated facelift. Paint your walls in your PMS color and add a few posters that tout your points of difference.
When a customer comes in, your lobby and office should definitely reflect your brand messaging. A few inexpensive changes could make a huge difference.
Driving school brand on your cars
Did you know that your vehicles are your best form of advertising? While on the roads in your community, they advertise your driving school brand. Are your cars plain white with magnets slapped on and a cheap plastic topper? If so, you may want to consider using wraps to reflect your driving school brand.
Magnets are temporary and cheap looking. Car toppers shout pizza delivery. Your driving school vehicle is your best marketing tool, so why not take full advantage of it? Think about it for a second. Your car is a moving billboard that travels through every corner of your community. You want it to look GREAT and promote your driving school to potential customers.
Car wraps shout your driving school brand
About four years ago, we started creating our brand image by selecting specific PMS colors, fonts, etc. This image was integrated into our website, in all of our online and print communications AND on all of our cars. I found a great printing company that developed a fantastic wrap for our driving school vehicles. And guess what? Our cars STOOD OUT.
I don’t mind spending a bit of money on these fantastic wraps. They worked for us and they will work for you too.
The wraps include our logo, phone number and website address. That’s it. Not too much, not too little. Just right! How do I know that they work? Because our brand-wrapped cars generate calls and website visits. They are your best chance to advertise your driving school brand in your community, so be sure to spend a bit extra on high quality wraps.
In review: Driving school brand
So, that’s it. The long-term solution to drive sales and make a lasting impression on your community is to develop a driving school brand that stands out, is memorable, reflects your points of difference, and is current (not outdated). It may take awhile, but it’s definitely worth the effort.
Then, make sure your driving school brand is reflected on:
- Your website
- In all online and print communications
- In your lobby and classrooms
- On your cars through the use of wraps