Let’s step out of the automotive world for a second and head to Target. Yes, Target.

From the moment you park your car, you are flooded with visual brand cues.  Red carts in the corrals, giant red cement balls, a giant red bullseye all lit-up and red electric doors, inviting you in with, “Welcome,” tastefully adhered to the glass, using the premium font, Helvetica Neue Bold.

You go inside and what do you find?  More red.  More signs using Helvetica.  More bullseyes.  You follow the clean, crisp signage to the kitchenware section, as you wander aimlessly through the aisles, chomping on delicious, buttered popcorn in a very appropriate red bag.  Visually, it is all very cohesive.  Undoubtedly, someone thought through the entire experience from a design perspective, all the way down to the plastic bags in which your sale-priced goods are placed before you head home (without the ONE thing you originally went in to buy, amirite?!)

Alas, it is the 21st century and eCommerce is all the rage!  Brick and mortar retailers jumped into the rodeo of online sales quite some time ago and know a few things about how to carry their brand experience over to the interweb.

So, you’re back at home and decide to continue your shopping experience.  You point and click your way over to Target.com.  What do you see?  A lot of red.  A lot of Helvetica.  And the signature bullseye that subconsciously alerts you that your wallet is about to be approximately $125 lighter.  As you’re visiting the site, looking for some new summer clothes and random housewares, unknowingly, a “cookie” is dropped on your browser.

You finish browsing and decide to trudge-on-over to Facebook.  You’re casually scrolling down your timeline when you see Target’s sponsored post with the exact blender you were drooling over earlier.  It’s plastered all over the graphic, along with a bunch of red accents and a bright bullseye overlay in the upper right-hand corner of your screen.

The next day, when stopped in traffic on your way home from work, you see the glowing, piercing-red bullseye in the distance.  It’s calling you to turn around and just go buy that damn Ninja blender that you’ve been eyeing.  So you do.

The moral of the story?  Target has mastered visual branding, both online and in-store.  So much in fact, that they may have influenced you subconsciously, triggering you to make a purchase with their expertly-branded Facebook Ad.

Start Hitting the Bullseye with Your Visual Identity

Marketing for a car dealer is tough. You struggle with originality in a sea of OEM-mandated branding initiatives and your marketing materials (both traditional and digital) look more 1996 instead of 2016.  You spend tons of money on your website, TV commercials, direct mail, email campaigns and social media advertising, yet it all just doesn’t seem to mesh or carry the same finesse.

We all know, and have been taught since childhood, to “never judge a book by its cover.” Unfortunately, when it comes to making an impression on a consumer, that statement is a lie.  Why else do you make your salespeople wear suits and ties? Because outward appearance matters.

One of the EASIEST things a dealership can do to start building a solid brand is to dial-in how you are visually represented across all mediums. Here are a few things to act upon:

  1. Logo – It is crucial to have a modern, relevant, high-quality logo that can be given to all of your marketing partners, displayed on your website and embroidered on your sales team’s golf shirts.
  2. Color Palette – Choose a complementary color palette for your brand by selecting one to three central colors, along with one or two neutral, accent colors. Choosing Pantone colors is your best bet for color-matching via print, digital and paint.  These colors should be used on everything you do, even painting an accent wall in your service lounge, and if at all possible, never stray away from your palette.
  3. Font – Pick two fonts: one primary font and one accent font. Try to choose open-source fonts that are available as Google Webfonts, so they can be used on your website. Also, please save us all and don’t use Comic Sans for anything ever again.

Once you have made some decisions regarding these three action steps, it is recommended that you build a “Style Guide,” document to give to every marketing partner you work with.  Be sure to stress the importance that they adhere to it for the sake of building a strong and recognizable visual identity.

At Dealer Authority, we take your dealership’s visual brand to heart when you use our Social Media Advertising Services. We have a team that is small in size, yet big in talent that carefully designs and builds every post and ad, so it aligns with your dealership’s style and makes a great impression on your customers.  No fancy, automated programs… just real strategists, equipped with hyper-creative eyes, helping you build your brand and sell more cars on Facebook!