Ask yourself: What is it that makes people check out your dealership, whether in person or online?
If you’re not sure, it could be smart to spend some time working on your brand.
The best way to keep your dealership’s name top of mind when it comes time for people to buy a used car is by building a memorable brand. It helps prospective customers understand what you stand for, what you can offer them and how you do business. This is before you or one of your sales reps ever has a conversation with them. Once the people on your team actually interact with customers, a solid brand will help you deliver consistent customer experiences aligned with the values of your organization.
Here are our top branding ideas that will help make your dealership stand out to prospective buyers.
1. Figure out what your brand stands for.
The only way to develop or enhance your brand is to know what makes your dealership different, or what you’d like your key differentiators to be.
What do you want to be known for? Some ideas include:
- Providing service that’s above and beyond
- Carrying a certain type of used vehicle
- Specializing in serving a segment of the market, such as families
- Delivering a superior online experience
- Offering a unparalleled selection of cars.
Once you’re clear on what you want your business to be about, you can start developing a brand aligned with those things.
2. Create a brand guide.
Your brand must be supported by everyone on your team, not just those who handle your marketing. That’s why you need a guide that explains your brand in clear and easy-to-understand terms. Everyone who works for you, from salespeople to mechanics, should have access to your guide and understand what role they play in supporting your brand.
Brand guide formats vary. They should be developed with an eye toward being meaningful to the people who will use them. They typically contain visual and content related information. Visual elements can include color, imagery, logo, typefaces, signage and other things people see. Content typically includes key messages, value proposition, scripting and other things prospective buyers read and hear. It could also include direction about messaging tone and voice. A guide explains your brand and tells everyone exactly what they need to do to deliver it across all parts of your business.
Brand guide tip: It’s possible for dealers to develop their own brand guides. However, because of its importance, most outsource the work. There are agencies that specialize in branding, or you can find help online through freelance services. Make sure you check to see that anyone you hire has experience with use car dealer branding. The requirements for dealerships are very different than those for other types of businesses.
3. Pay attention to color.
Color is a bigger issue for used car dealers than for most other types of operations. Ask yourself:
- What colors align with your brand and convey the value your business provides?
- Are there combinations that will make it easier for people to navigate your website and get them to buy?
- What colors will get people to notice your lot and make them drive off the highway to check it out?
There’s a lot of psychology that goes into picking brand colors. A branding or color expert can help you select the right ones for your dealership.
Color tips: Think long term about the colors you choose. You could be living with them for many years. Also, check to see whether they work everywhere. Colors that are attractive on a sign may not read well on a website or could look terrible on a mechanic’s uniform.
4. Make sure your brand works in social media.
Many used car dealers focus their brands on big elements, like signage and building design. They’re critical things when it comes to attracting people to the lot. However, things are changing and customers are as likely to have their initial experiences with your brand in social media and through other digital channels.
It’s critical that brand elements like logos, images and tag lines look good on a smartphone, tablet and other devices. A logo that reads on a giant sign might be illegible on a Facebook post.
One other thing to consider: More and more pre-owned car dealers use videos to promote vehicles. Consult with a video expert to make sure your brand will be effective in videos.
5. Include a code of ethics as part of your brand.
Unfortunately, “used car dealer” is often thought of as a negative term. Counter this by developing a code of ethics as the centerpiece of your brand. Train all your workers on it and make sure they follow it all the time, with no exceptions. Display the code in your dealership and make it a prominent part of your website. Living by the code will go a long way toward building customer trust in your brand.
6. Update your showroom.
Giving your showroom a branded facelift might seem like an expensive proposition. However, your showroom, along with your website, are the ultimate ways shoppers experience your brand. If it looks shabby or doesn’t connect with the rest of your brand experience, it could turn buyers off. A little paint, some modern lighting and a few awesome signs doesn’t cost a lot and could go a long way toward providing a fitting end to your branded selling experience.
Showroom tip: Make sure your sales reps keep their individual spaces neat, tidy and brand appropriate. No one wants to seal their car deal at a messy desk.