Doing their best

First Place
Do it Best Corp.
Fort Wayne, Ind.
Designer: Do it Best Corp.
Producer: Signature Graphics, Porter, Ind.

Second Place
Primo Water Corp.
Winston-Salem, N.C.
Designer: Primo Water Corp.
Producer: Modagrafics, Rolling Meadows, Ill.

Third Place
Boar’s Head Provisions Co.
Petersburg, Va.
Designer: Boar’s Head Provisions Co.
Producer: Interstate Graphics, Coconut Creek, Fla.

In graphic design, it’s not enough that images be pretty. Pretty is cheap. The most effective designs catch the eye – and keep it.

So it is with fleet graphics. The most effective and engaging designs are those that force you to think – and perhaps do a double-take. One way to do that is by playing little tricks on the eye. Consider the Red Gold Tomatoes rear swing-out trailer doors that looked like a partially open roll-up door, revealing what appeared to be crates of tomatoes. Or the Sargento design from a couple of years ago – a tractor and trailer that appeared to be made of Swiss cheese.

Humor is another popular tool. Northern Tool & Equipment, for example, placed last year with a message playing on the macho stereotype: “Never borrow tools. Never ask for directions.”

Several years ago, Flowerwood Trucking, the private fleet for Encore Azalea, placed with the rear-door message: “Wanna peek at our boomers?” Consider last year’s second-place winner, the Miracle Whip trailer designed to look as if a turkey were defacing it with graffiti.

And then there is the simple and classic, like the Sargento red-and-black design that predated the Swiss cheese motif. Consider the simple reflective graphics from Cooper Tire. Or the striking black tractor-trailer from Bridgestone/Firestone emphasizing the brand and displaying tires in use.

This year, the overall winners in the National Private Truck Council/Commercial Carrier Journal Commercial Fleet Graphics Awards represent each of these proven tactics to great effect.

Leveraging the whole box
Do it Best Corp., a hardware, lumber and building supply cooperative based in Fort Wayne, Ind., took the grand prize this year by turning its trailers – visually, at least – into 53-foot toolboxes. The graphics feature latches and a hasp on each side of the trailer, and handles not only on the rear door but on the nose of the trailer as well. And Do it Best completes the sleek look with color-matching tractors.

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The mind-bending new graphics replace a design that had been in place since 1997, says Walt Rosenquist, outbound operations manager for the company. The Do it Best dedicated fleet of 211 tractors and 373 trailers delivers to Do it Best member-owners throughout the lower 48 states. Conversion to the new graphics began last year; 28 trailers currently sport them. More than 50 percent of Do it Best trailers will be replaced this year, and the new trailers will incorporate the toolbox theme. Full conversion will take another three years.

After 10 years, Do it Best Corp. was ready for a new look, especially since some of the products featured in the graphics were outdated, says Andy Garringer, private label specialist for Do it Best Corp. Garringer, who created the new design, was inspired mostly by an e-mail that purported to show fleet graphics from overseas. “They were all electronically manipulated to look like the cab was pulling huge everyday items such as aquariums, pop bottles, etc.,” Garringer says. “I thought about how I could do something like this and tie it to Do it Best.”

The company’s mission is to supply its members with the tools, ideas and products they need to be successful, Garringer says. “While I was looking through some of our company literature, I saw a toolbox. What better item to carry tools to make your company successful than a huge toolbox?”

A twisted warning
The toolbox twist aside, the Do it Best graphics are really fairly plain and simple. The same can be said for the fleet graphics employed by Winston-Salem, N.C.-based Primo Water Corp., which placed second in this year’s Commercial Fleet Graphics Awards. The trailer sides and tractor roof fairing are clean but fairly standard, featuring the Primo Water logo and a large water container.

Those crisp, attractive images are pleasing, but by themselves, they aren’t necessarily award-winning. The real star of Primo Water’s fleet graphics is the back of the trailer – the thirst-invoking splash of water and, especially, the text: “CAUTION: Following too closely may cause dry mouth, excessive thirst or uncontrollable panting. Drink responsibly