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Posted on: October 3rd, 2017

5 Keys to Successfully Branding Your Car Wash

In a day and age when consumers are inundated with different advertising and marketing messages, successful businesses are forced to work harder and smarter to gain their customers’ attention and remain top of mind.

McDonald’s and Southwest Airlines are great examples of corporations who are nailing branding, earning themselves a loyal consumer following and setting themselves apart from their competition. So what does it take to accomplish such a seemingly daunting task these days?

  • Planning
  • Consistency
  • Simplicity
  • Customization
  • Evaluation


The old saying, “failure to plan is planning to fail” couldn’t be more true here. It is critical to develop a logo, color scheme, and brand that you feel good about riding out until the very end. Visualize your logo going on all variations of marketing materials, including your menu board, building signage, business cards, uniforms, promotional materials, website, etc. We’ve seen some businesses create a very dark logo that didn’t stand out well on their dark building, while others created a logo so complex it was impossible to reduce it down to a single color for uniform embroidery or promotional products.


Consistency throughout all materials is crucial for a car wash brand. We’ve seen many clients who have unknowingly developed several different iterations of their logo and marketing content. Operators are often approached by different advertisers who include the design free of charge. While this may appear to be a nice perk, it can become a slippery slope away from your core brand and image.

We worked with one client who had five different logos on materials developed by multiple sources over time. Their logo was poorly planned in the beginning and the “drop shadows” and shape were not translating well on certain ads and marketing materials. A tweak here and a tweak there led to so many different variations, it was difficult to tell who they were and what their “brand” was. It’s also important to maintain a consistent color scheme across the board. Your logo should match your menu tower, which should match your pay canopies, tunnel signage, vacuum stations etc. All this should match your external marketing as well, including advertisements, website, newsletter templates, etc. Everyone knows McDonald’s golden arches and red and yellow color scheme, making them instantly recognizable.


We’ve all heard the acronym K.I.S.S.- Keep it SIMPLE Stupid! The average attention span for marketing is now 8 SECONDS! A gold fish has an attention span of 9 seconds. This means we need to strip down all the clutter and get to the root of what really matters. Less is more. Keep your brand, logo, and colors simple. Don’t confuse them with a complicated menu design. Figure out what message you want your customer to read immediately, and make sure it is prominent on all your signage.


Branding is the way to keep your customers associating your name with the service you are providing. Unfortunately, in the car wash business, many owners have strayed away from their “brand.” They are promoting brands of national companies looking to sell national products. When it comes to your wash options, why spend money to promote a national brand/chemical? This is your chance to advertise a custom version of YOUR brand on your menu board.


It is important to take time to gather everything out there periodically and evaluate how consistent your messages are. Does your menu board descriptions match what is being said in your brochures and on your website? Is your logo the same? Your tagline? Colors? If not, you might want to consider updating to a uniform “brand” you can feel good about carrying out.


In the end, you don’t need to spend a fortune to build a cohesive brand image, but you do need to plan ahead, keep it simple, and keep it consistent. Rise above the crowd and make your “brand” something people want and want to know. Is your “brand” true to your business, and, more importantly, are you true to your “brand”?