Food trucks are more than just a kitchen on wheels. By their very design, they are a walking brand and promotion of their business. But food trucks break down just as much as any other motor vehicle, something auto mechanics know well.
Whether you’re fixing the engine of a food truck or making some necessary cosmetic designs, you can take your customer value to the next level by talking to your food truck customers about their brand before you get started.
Why Talk About Branding?
As an auto mechanic, your food truck customer’s brand is not strictly your line of work. It’s their job to market their business and your job to make repairs to their food truck when needed. But there is an intersection when the vehicle you’re fixing is itself your customer’s main element of branding.
Every speck of imagery on a food truck has significance. The colors, the logos, the font are all important to their brand. Sometimes even the design of the truck plays into their brand. These are elements that you may very well interact with while working on the truck.
Taking the time to speak to your customers about their brand before you begin to work on their truck shows a level of consideration that will make them want to come back in the future. If you want to turn food truck customers into raving fans who develop a loyalty to your services and recommend you to their friends, show them your support of their brand.
A Legal Case Where Food Truck Branding Mattered
In 2022, Atlanta-based restaurant Twisted Taco franchise, Inc. sued a food truck, The Drunken Waffle LLC in Dayton, Ohio, for their use of “Twisted Taco” as a menu item. They had first sent a cease-and-desist letter to The Drunken Waffle in 2020, explaining that Twisted Taco was their trademarked intellectual property and that The Drunken Waffle used imagery that mimicked or copied their trademark. A follow-up letter came in August of 2021, followed by a hand-served lawsuit.
The owner of The Drunken Waffle claimed that they ignored the cease-and-desist letters because their food truck had been out of business for some time and they no longer used “Twisted Taco” on their menu. However, Twisted Taco’s attorneys also demanded social media posts from The Drunken Waffle using the term be taken down and that the restaurant be compensated for the earnings from the menu item.
The Drunken Waffle could have avoided this scenario by having their menu items protected as registered trademarks, at which point any conflicting trademark/branding would have become clear. This case also shows that, with the longevity of social media, even food trucks no longer in operation can be held responsible for intellectual property issues.
What To Discuss When It Comes to Brand
So what should you bring up when discussing a brand with your customer? Here are a few things that can come up:
Food trucks often come with their own unique, quirky, and eye-catching names. Ideally, their business name should be trademark registered so that their competition can’t draw customers away with a similar name. And this doesn’t just apply to the name of the food truck itself. Names of menu items or unique offers can be trademarked. Ask your customers if they have protected their business name. If not, you can encourage them to do so.
Logos and Slogans
Logos and slogans can also be trademarked in order to keep their brand distinct from other food trucks. The logo of the food truck usually features prominently on the truck, as well as the menu. Slogans may also be painted onto the side or front of the truck, as well. In discussing logos and slogans with your customers, you can learn the stories behind them and see how much thought they put into their brand. They may also appreciate your support in asking them whether their logos and slogans have been trademark registered?
Food trucks are always artistically designed so that they stand out from other vehicles on the street. Food truck owners often take great pride in the artwork featured on their truck — whether they designed the truck themselves or had help from commissioned artists. So it can be devastating if that artwork is ripped off by the competition. Fortunately, artwork can be copyrighted, so that if this happens, they can take legal action. This is another element of branding that you should discuss with your food truck customers to help them protect their business.
If your food truck customers know that their auto mechanic has their back in addition to providing great mechanic service, you’ll be on your way to building a relationship with them. Need help with your own business brand or IP protection? Garcia-Zamor has you covered. Contact us today to learn more.