Food trucks have come a long way from the humble city taco truck. But food trucks, like any dining establishment, need to build a customer base in order to be successful. There have been many hopeful entrepreneurs that have quickly come and gone, unable to compete in a growing and increasingly competitive niche market. While there are many factors that contribute to a trucks success, the overall truck design can be crucial. It is a trucks’ first impression. And we all know the importance of a good (or bad) first impression. Looks aren’t everything in the food truck world, but they sure are important.
After an outing to a fair, concert, gallery showing, etc. there is a good chance there is a food truck or two nearby. More than likely, a large percentage of those passing by will not be familiar with the truck and will rely on their initial feelings and intuition. Colors, designs, and the overall look and feel of the truck unconsciously influences customers to pick one over another. The aesthetic appeal is crucial to stand out.
Thus, many truck owners rely on an outside third party to construct their “wrapping.” Wraps – the pre-printed outer layer of artwork – run from complex themed artwork, like the Shark Bite truck, to minimalist modern design, as displayed on The Melt truck. Wraps can be appealing because they give a professional feel and have a fast turn around time.
Airbrushing or traditional paint is another option that can give a truck iconic or distinct character. Not to mention, another outlet for local artists to showcase their work. Jeremy Bustillos, creator of JEKCreations, has made a living off of remodeling food trailers in Austin, Texas. A Costa Rican native, he started working as a painter and carpenter, but has now designed El Chato, Hey Cupcake, Wholly Kabob, and many other local favorites, introducing the southwest to his creative work. In Philly, Kris Pepper and Eliot Coven, use their food truck/boutique farmers market, Farm Truck, as a “tailgate gallery,” showing a variety of local art for sale.
And then, of course, there is the plain bizarre. From weird Burning Man-inspired art cars to Seattle’s giant steal pig on wheels, Maximus Minimus. Or the Space Shuttle Café that literally is a spaceship, cockpit and all. These are killer builds and designs, but practicality and aesthetics can be a tough balancing act. Additionally, messages relaying information about the truck can be just as important as the overall design. The placement and arrangement of taglines, logos, and social media accounts are aspects that are not to be overlooked or underplayed.
Food truck owners can and should use truck style and design strategically in order to hit their target market and customer base to stay ahead of the competition. And that’s just the outside of the truck