Branding on Wheels! The Food Truck Craze

By Christine Slomski |

Food trucks. They’re popping up everywhere. Seems like there’s a new one perusing the streets of LA or avenues of San Francisco every minute. The West Coast is hot with gourmet eats on wheels. Perhaps you’ve seen them or at least heard of them, too, as they’re quite popular on the Food Network. And I don’t mean vans selling tacos or station wagons offering tamales, seafood, or fresh jerky. No, these are the retro-fitted trucks splattered with fresh logos and high-quality eats. What intrigues me about this phenomena and culinary craze its created is the “mobile branding” appeal and capability of this movement. There seems to be something magical about the novelty of these snacky shacks on wheels.

I live in Phoenix, which, you might be surprised to learn, has a vibrant community of “foodies” and superb culinary establishments. Every month there’s either a new champagne lounge, tearoom, grease joint, natural kitchen, or gluten-free café opening its doors to hungry, desert-dwelling food elitists. What’s cool is that the Twitter community in Phoenix is home to a slew of highly social food elitists, area chefs, restaurants, and natural markets all buzzing about and photo sharing the latest and greatest dishes, drinks, and desserts in the metro area. Mentions of food trucks ‘round these parts are no exception.

Earning lots of respectable time on the Food Network and spreads in food magazines, the food trucks of this day in age are hip, gourmet, trendy, and oh-so-irresistable. Take one Phoenix’s favorites, Truckin’ Good Food (@truckingoodfood), for example. Born from a dream to escape “Corporate America” and bring fine food to the streets and events in Metro Phoenix (mouth-watering, “foodie-worthy” French crepes and pommes frites), this little company has done wonders for creating a tribe-worthy brand.

What this company does exceptionally well (as well as a few others in California) is carrying out a consistent identity with its personal voice, carried out through social platforms and its website, and from its markedly friendly roadside customer service to the personification of the truck (affectionately named “Mr. T”), I am delighted how T’GF has created a strong, memorable brand for itself that people talk about regularly online and in social circles. In fact, food trucks are doing this all over the country—creating memorable, roadside food services worthy of passionate brand devotees.

If you haven’t yet experienced the little piece of old-world charm mixed in with a heaping helping of hip, trendy culinary service, you should! I commend the owners and teams running these mobile brand machines that, while most prevalent on the West Coast, are taking city dwellers by heart. In a time when we’re downsizing amidst a multi-ginormous market of big brands in which everything we see and touch has already been branded, I smile a little to see these foodie kitchens on wheels that are truly delivering a product and experience we enjoy and even value, and have thus gained authentic bands of brand devotees. Keep on truckin’.