By Daniel Hunter

AXA, one of the UK’s leading van insurers advises van owners that a website, not phone number, on the back of your van is best for business while a spelling mistake can halve your potential customers.

The company, which insures more than 130,000 vans in the UK, carried out research to see whether van owners were making the most of one of their best assets.

The research, carried out by AXA among 300 van owners, suggested that nearly two thirds have some sort of signage on their van. Unsurprisingly, the most common feature is the company name. However more surprisingly is the fact that of those who do have signage on their van, only six in ten provide a contact telephone number for potential customers and less than half provide details of a website. And Facebook/Twitter details are displayed by only one in five.

Over half of consumers in the UK will at least occasionally use signage on a van when looking for particular services so for van owners a bit of signage could be money well spent — and in fact on average van owners who do use signage believe they get just under 30 per cent of their business is driven from their sign advertising.

The key things that appeal to consumers are a witty name or “jokey” signage. Pictures and colours are also popular and, in contrast to what van owners actually put on their vans, consumers would rather see a website than a phone number.

Twenty seven per cent of van owners display a trade endorsement as part of their signage - around six in ten consumers would sometimes or always look out for this before contacting a company.

Meanwhile, over half of consumers would be put off using a company that had a spelling mistake in its signage and a similar number would avoid a company if the van was driven badly or was dirty. Blacked out windows and drivers smoking would also put off a third of potential customers.

“Getting the signage right on your van is a cheap and effective way to market yourself — done properly it has to be one of the best forms of advertising there is," Darrell Sansom, managing director at AXA Business Insurance said.

"But getting it wrong can be at best, a waste of money, and at worst, damaging to your business. So a little time and effort to get it right is worth the investment. But do remember once you’ve got that right, drive badly and you’ll undo all the good.”

AXA has got together with design consultant, Darren Forsyth, to offer some tips on how to make the most of the signage on your van:

· Use as few colours as possible and stick to a colour that will contrast with the colour of the van eg dark blue signage on a white van
· Make sure you use a suitable material — a vehicle wrap vinyl is ideal for vans
· Keep it simple and obvious — unless you’re stuck in a traffic jam, potential customers won’t have time to take in much detail
· Put the key bits of information at “eye level” for other drivers. There’s no point having the company name or contact details somewhere that will be obscured by other traffic
· Try to put signage within the panels of the van — avoid going over door joins or round corners of the bodywork
· While consumers say they like pictures, simple illustrations will work better than photographs
· A sans serif font will work well, particularly in bigger sizes
· And if the colour of the font is important get some swatches to reference as vinyl colours don’t match regular pantone reference colours
· Get several people to proof read your sign — a mistake can be disastrous for business
· And ask your insurer about discounts for signage — some, including AXA, will offer a discount for a ‘branded’ van

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