3 Principles for Successful Car Wash Logo Design

You’re opening a car wash and you need a logo! Now is not the time to give your nephew, your secretary, or that nice aspiring designer next door their big chance. Your logo is far more than just a cool representation of your business name. Done properly, it is an effective standard-bearer for your entire investment. Done poorly, it will be an embarrassing liability that you will pay for dearly in the long run. Let’s look at some of the important responsibilities of your logo and what you can do to help your design contribute to your success.

It must introduce.

Your logo will often be the first exposure people have to your business. Your business’ name should be very clear without requiring any effort to decipher. If you want people to promote you to their friends (the most effective and least costly tool of brand building) they will have to refer to you business somehow, so make it easy for them. “That car wash with the monkey riding a lightning bolt” is not as efficient and just saying, “Bob’s” so let them know clearly that this is Bob’s Car Wash.

Use a typeface that is easy to read. This is not the time to sift through thousands of faces in the internet’s vast font library and pick the one that “looks wicked cool” for that reason alone. In fact, a font as ubiquitous as Helvetica (born in Switzerland in 1957) can be leveraged with tremendous success. Sure, more stylistic typefaces can certainly be used effectively, but never lose sight of the first goal. Make your logo clear.

It must engage.

Perhaps you should add a graphic element that connects the name to what you do… or more importantly, to what your customers need. A car, a splash, a sparkle… It doesn’t need to be “eye-catching” as much as it needs to connect the name to a need or desire. A leprechaun jumping off a unicorn into a volcano is certainly eye-catching but it does little to connect the viewer to a desire (unless they desire leprechauns jumping into volcanoes, then you’re doing a great job at this logo stuff).

Keep any art simple and well illustrated. Don’t think an evening with Microsoft Paint is your ticket to success here. Art must be executed well and in a format that is appropriate for every vendor from your business card printer to your embroidery shop. That means .eps or .ai (an Adobe Illustrator file). No exceptions. It’s possible to forgo an art element and adjust the letterforms artistically to represent an engaging element but be careful not to make the name difficult to read. Getting one element to do two jobs effectively can be a tricky dance but very effective if executed well.

It must motivate.

To do this, your design must ooze trust. Thoughtful use of coordinated colors is critical. I’m not suggesting basic and bland, but using wild colors because you think they “pop” will work against you like a loud tie on a used car salesman. More than anything the clean, tight, balanced appearance of a professionally designed logo will present your business as solid, well-founded, and trustworthy.

Without a doubt this overview only scratches the surface of a very deep subject. I say this all to get you thinking in the right direction.

Think. Sketch out some ideas. Think about colors and coordinate with your architecture. Now, find a professional and communicate your thoughts and concepts. Their services may be expensive but a good logo is a powerful investment. A seasoned pro will listen, create a few directions and refine one down to a truly effective design that will be an asset paying its dividends for years to come.

Tom Dodson is a 35-year veteran of design based in Dallas, Texas. In his extensive career, he has lead teams of creatives for national brands like Pepsi, Frito-Lay, Subway, Miller Brewing and countless others. Most recently, he is responsible for the development of the Tommy’s Express brand standards.

Tommy Car Wash Systems

Investigating Car Wash Site Demographics

Photo by Chris Hovinga

As with all retail establishments, location is one of, if not the single most critical factors to consider from the earliest stages of a car washes planning and development. And when deciding on a car wash location, a thorough demographics study is just one of the tools available to help operators make the best possible decision.

To learn more, we spoke with Chris Hovinga, a Project Manager and long-time member of the Tommy Car Wash Systems Buildings team, about what demographic factors and criteria are looked for when identifying good potential car wash sites.

Q: Good morning Chris! How is the Tommy Car Wash Systems building team these days?

CH. We are doing great! Ramping up for Tommy’s Express franchise projects is a tall order, and we are always adding to the team to meet the challenge. It’s a lot of work, but the rewards are wonderful.

Q: What are a few of the key demographic criteria that signal a good local area for a high performing express car wash system, such as a Totally Tommy model car wash?

CH. Little competition or low preforming competition would be fantastic, but that’s not always the case so we need to really examine not only the site, but the attitude and makeup of the community. We are looking for a high visibility corner, with easy access in the main retail district of an area with a growing population.

It’s a lot to ask for and can drive the land cost up, but the other option is to get into an area that you know is going to develop into one of those parts of the city where everyone wants to go.

You’re also looking for a city with a modern attitude towards design, and sometimes that can take a bit of work. But, if you can find a cooperative council and a good location in a healthy area, the end results will be worth it.

Also, don’t be afraid to look past “blank” lots. Brick and mortar stores are going away and moving online and you never know what’s for sale.

Q: What resources would you recommend to help collect this information?

CH. There are a ton of great resources out there!

Demographicsnow.com has wonderful tools for seeing what’s in an area.

The local DOT website for your state can show you traffic and car counts. It’s free, but the data is not updated all the time so you really have to examine the report.

The local chamber of commerce can typically supply a lot of info, usually for free.

And don’t forget your local commercial real estate agents. They know what’s happening and can greatly assist by providing the current info and perspective you to make a smart decision.

Q: Any other helpful hints or advice you have for prospective car wash owners or operators?

CH. Google Earth is a great resource but having an experienced team on the ground that can really get the feel of the site along with local talent that can discuss to area from experience really is invaluable..

Tommy Car Wash Systems.

Tommy’s Express Jenison Location Tour

Ryan Essenburg, President of Tommy Car Wash Systems and the Tommy’s Express franchise, will take you on a walk-through our our newest corporate location. Tommy’s Express Jenison is a full-size Totally Tommy Express-style car wash with franchise exclusive equipment as well as several brand-new innovations and equipment examples you’ll be seeing more of soon!

Watch the full video below.

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