We recently received an email from a reader who asked, “I don’t have a logo for my food truck yet and I need one. I don’t know where to start. Do you have any tips or steps to take?”

As usual, another great question from one of our great readers. We certainly have some tips and steps for you to follow. Over the years, we’ve continually explained that a food truck’s brand is not just their logo or tagline. And while true, a truck’s brand is the DNA of a mobile food business. A food truck logo is one element, or in other words, a touch point, that supports your brand.

Before you start thinking about images, colors and fonts, make sure that you have thought out a solid brand identity. This means that you have put together your food truck concept, brand personality, and points of differentiation.

Just as a building needs a foundation in place before it can be erected, you need to have these brand foundations in place to create any touch point so that you put a consistent brand out on the road.

If you just start working on branding without a foundation, your food truck’s image will look more like a hot mess and you’ll have a difficult time building your brand. Your logo should reflect your food truck’s menu, personality and the experience customers should expect.

Once you have your brand plan in place, here are a few steps you can follow to develop your food truck logo:

Research your market

You never want to look like a second rate version of another truck or local restaurant by copying or mimicking their logo. Identify your top competitors in your area (this should include both food trucks and restaurants). Snag images of their logos, so you know what’s already out there and group them up in two categories (likes and dislikes).

This exercise will ensure your logo looks nothing like a competing business which might confuse customers and potentially invite a trademark infringement lawsuit.

Find a professional

Unless you or a family member has a strong design background, we recommend finding a design professional to work with you to create an awesome food truck logo based on your research with your selected name.

Depending on your budget and timing, here are a few good ways to find an experienced designer:

  • Design schools
  • Crowdsourcing*
  • Freelance resources sites (elance.com, freelancer.com)
  • Individual designers
  • Creative agencies
  • Ad agencies

*If budget is an issue and you want to see many design options, www.99designs.com is a great resource for crowdsourcing. After you post a description of what you are looking for, you will start receiving designs from around the world. They offer several investment levels the lowest being $299 up to $1,000. The more you offer, usually gets more experienced designers will submit ideas for your project. If you don’t like any of them, you don’t pay a dime. For complete rules, check out the site.

Spend time to find the right professional

Your food truck logo is a big investment and not something that you’ll want to rework in the next year or two. If you do end up hiring a designer, spend time reviewing their past work.

You should also consider how you communicate together. For example if one of you is outspoken and direct and the other introverted and passive there could be misunderstandings and communication roadblocks that stall your project.

You want to make sure that you are both on the same page when it comes to how and when to communicate and that you’re going to have an open and honest dialogue.

Know what you want

This circles back to having a clear understanding of your food truck’s brand and what you want the logo to represent. You need to provide designers with a blue print about the project with clearly defined objectives, deadlines and expectations.

Put your agreement in writing

If timing is critical (and it usually is), you may want to include a provision where if a deadline is missed there is a discount and if the project is finished early, you provide a bonus to the designer.

Make sure you get a copyright transfer for the finished artwork, so there is no question you own it and can use it however you wish.

Ask these questions

When you are reviewing potential logos, ask these questions to make sure that your new food truck logo is on-brand and passes this use test. If you answer, “no” you should to go back to the drawing board.

  • Does the logo mark tie into your story?
  • Is it unique and trademark free, meaning you can trademark it?
  • Does it work well in a large-scale format (your truck’s wrap) and a very small scale (business cards, your website, letterhead)?
  • Does it work well in one color?
  • Does it translate well in digital media on the web and in social media channels?
  • Can it be photocopied?

Do you a question for us? We’d love to answer it here on the blog. You can email us admin[at]mobile-cuisine[dot]com or reach us on our Facebook page or Tweet to us.