Case Study by Philip Yan RGD, Chief Experience Designer at GenesisXD Inc.
In early summer of 2015, I met the Executive Director of Furniture Bank at a social enterprise event. When the decision was made to redesign the organization's white trucks to help elevate the company's brand presence, GenesisXD took on the project to develop a design that could target every eyeball on the road – drivers, passengers and pedestrians.
Furniture Bank is a charity offering gently-used household furnishings at little or no cost to individuals and families who have transitioned out of homelessness and displacement. They have a fleet of seven trucks to transport furniture.
According to statistics from the Outdoor Advertising Association of America, each vehicle could generate between 30,000–70,000 impressions daily. Furniture Bank's existing run-of-the-mill trucks did not adequately convey the brand message. With huge potential reach, the trucks were a brand awareness 'vehicle' that the company needed to leverage as a major platform for communication.
Before working on a design strategy, we spent a day at Furniture Bank to better understand the mission of the organization. We dug deep to understand its history, the goals of the organization, the process of engaging their clients and their social impact. From this, we determined that our branding strategy would focus on expressing the organization's meaningful impact as a social enterprise.
It’s about people. It’s about hope. The mission of Furniture Bank is about reclaiming dignity and preparing for a new life. To convey this spirit, GenesisXD designed Furniture Bank trucks with a focus on the impact of their recipients. The brand message communicates the value of creating a home where people can embark on new journeys and make happy memories.
Imagery features an empty room with a pair of satisfied looking adults and a smiling child in the centre to highlight the fact that the service impacts multiple generations. This prominent visual on the truck suggests the power of a furnished home as a symbol of stability and hope. We also used a combination of different images of people of all ages with a variety of expressions to represent diversity.
The image selection process involved searching for various types of family photos. We considered what would work best with the brand message and achieve optimal visual impact. Since our client is a non-profit, there was no budget for hiring models or professional photography, so instead we researched matching style stock photos to ensure consistency. The image of the green room and the images of people came from different photos, which required extensive retouching to superimpose one onto the other. To create the 'wow' factor, we decided to use larger-than-life images next to the impact statements. This design choice achieves two main objectives: the appearance is both simple and attention-grabbing. Every picture on the trucks was chosen to highlight the people-focused impact of Furniture Bank’s service.
Like most trucks on the road, the old trucks were white with black type and the company's logo. Keeping in mind that colour is key to brand association, we wrapped the entire truck with green. Combined with an impact statement and a super-sized people image, these visual elements express the hope, joy and warmth that Furniture Bank’s brand represents.
Our design strategy targeted viewers from all angles. Every eyeball counts. The side panel catches attention like a giant billboard whether the truck is running or stationary. The key to the successful design is simplicity with a clear focus.
The back panel is readable from a driver behind the truck, who may spend a good deal of time looking at the image. We also considered what the design would look like when the back door is open. Using an image of furniture on the closed door builds anticipation for the real furniture that you see when the door opens.
For the top of the truck, we used a simple brand statement that can be viewed from above.
When the trucks are on the road the viewing time is seconds. We made sure to consider this in every element of the design: priority, decisions on colour, impact statement, size and position of the image, the emotions, type size and placement, call for action, as well as a solution for possible visual blockage.
To manage production for a project like this, it is important for the designers to have adequate understanding of the types of trucks, materials and sizing. Each truck gives a different viewing experience and has a different panel structure.
The newly-branded Furniture Bank trucks in bright green with super-sized people images and impact statements have drawn unprecedented attention.
“I am very excited about seeing the branded trucks in person… our drivers said that they are getting a ton of attention as a result.” Nevine Sedki, Director of Development, Furniture Bank.
The branding distinguishes Furniture Bank's vehicles from other vehicles on the road while communicating the company's message, with the added impact of encouraging truck drivers to feel proud of their work. In about eight weeks, we transformed the client’s white trucks into vehicles that deliver hope.
- Understand the mission – design to communicate the true spirit of the brand and its impact; product is not the focus.
- Capture the tone of the brand and consider it from all angles.
- Good design is personal – create an experience that bridges the message and the heart.
- Recognize the value of a strong brand message – good designers will help you leverage the power of storytelling.
- Final production is as important as design - allow designers to manage production quality to ensure delivery that does justice to the design thinking.
- Timely communication between key staff and the design team will help ensure deadlines are met.
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