How Custom-Painted Equipment Can Boost Your Marketing

Updated Nov 12, 2021
DC Excavation Caterpillar D6 Bulldozer
Welcome to the Dark Side. Dane Cotten's black D6 has caught him more attention than almost any other marketing tactic.
DC Excavation

Construction equipment gets its fair share of head turns while operating or parked on the side of the road. But custom-painted equipment? Those are real neck breakers.

Not only do custom-painted machines look slick, owners say there are numerous marketing benefits too.

Having a professionally branded fleet with a unique color scheme is like having a billboard at every job site. The use of the right color can boost your brand recognition by 80 percent, according to a 2019 survey released by Reboot.

We talked to several contractors with custom-painted fleets to see how the unique paint job has given them an edge.

Here are areas where they’ve seen results, and a few drawbacks to consider:

Dirt Monkey ExcavatingMarty Leum's bright red equipment is hard to miss.Dirt Monkey Excavating

Increased Brand Awareness

Painting your fleet a custom color can create some serious buzz in your community and attract potential customers. With word of mouth still considered a top marketing tactic, a flashy fleet can help increase the frequency of organic conversations about your company.

“Everyone knows it’s us at the job sites,” says Marty Leum, owner of Dirt Monkey Excavating based in Cashton, Wisconsin. “Branding is a top priority when it comes to building our business, and our fleet is a critical part of that.”

Leum’s dealer Fabick CAT coordinates the painting of his signature red equipment. 

Truth Excavation"Why be like everybody else," says Kimo Clark. "Make people curious about your brand."Truth Excavation

Stretch Your Marketing Dollar 

Is your brand the opening act or the headliner? Making your brand the star of the show helps your marketing dollars go further. Billboards and digital ads have a shelf life, but painted equipment is permanent.

“When I was in a band, I learned that gaining a following is all about self-promotion. I took that experience into the heavy equipment world because nobody was really doing branding or creative videos around 2012,” says Kimo Clark, owner of Maui, Hawaii-based Truth Excavation. 

“As soon as I get new equipment, I take the decals off, paint it green and put our name on it. I consider it a marketing expense. A memorable company name paired with painted machines and great photo and video content makes a super-brand.”

In addition to painting your fleet, Clark says, look at the content being created in other industries, like surfing and skateboarding, for inspiration. Marketing for your construction business doesn’t have to be stuffy and boring. Make it fun and memorable. 

Custom-Painted Construction EquipmentStop them in their feed. Custom-painted equipment can help catch the attention of your future workforce on Instagram or TikTok, says Dane Cotten.DC Excavation

Attract New Employees

Custom-painted equipment may also garner the attention of your future workforce. A millennial himself, Dane Cotten, owner of Bozeman, Montana-based DC Excavation, knows that branding, storytelling and a solid digital presence are critical factors in attracting the tech-savvy younger generation. Case in point, a video showing off his newly painted D6 received tens of thousands of views and likes on Instagram alone.  

“Our black equipment with the old-school Cat decals is a differentiator,” says Cotten. “It has helped us attract employees. Operators want to run the latest equipment, and the unique look doesn’t hurt either. Anybody can have equipment, but custom-painted equipment gets recognized and remembered.”

Cotten thinks more OEMs should offer factory-direct custom paint options due to the increasing importance of branding in the industry.

The Downsides to Painting Your Equipment 

While none of the contractors we spoke to listed any drawbacks, here are a few you may want to consider.

Additional Expense

A custom paint job will set you back several thousand dollars. Owners should weigh if the cost is worth the potential benefits.

Issues When Selling

When selling or trading in equipment, some buyers may ask you to repaint the machine to factory colors. Just like that, more money has walked out the door.

Quality Control

Not all paint jobs are created equal. The technology and materials used to paint the machine by a third party may not be to the same quality standards as the factory. Premature peeling and chipping may occur.