Seeing is believing. It is an old cliche with several meanings. To the business owner who is looking to attract new customers, the cliche means only one thing - hook them with a visual image that leaves a lasting impression.

When one mentions "the golden arches," McDonald's comes to mind. How about the "blue oval"? That would be the Ford Motor Company. And what company comes to mind when the color brown is mentioned? The answer is UPS (United Parcel Service), which asks, "What can brown do for you?" in its ads, referring to the color of the company's trucks and uniforms.

It would be nice if people remembered you by the great products and services that you offer, but often the image of a company is based on what it looks like to customers. Thus, a company's logo and graphics can be an integral part of its identity.

The new graphics adorning the trucks of Lion & Lamb Heating are turning some heads in Indianapolis. The company recently began putting the full-color logo on its vehicles (above), updating the old black-and-white version (below). Owner Jim Snyder said that customer response to the new design has been fantastic.

A Dash Of Color

Not many people would think about heating and cooling when they first look at the picture of the lion and the lamb on this page. But that's not necessarily the impression that the owner of Lion and Lamb Heating & Cooling is trying to convey. He wants people to get a "warm and fuzzy" feeling when they see his trucks on the road.

Jim Snyder, owner of Lion & Lamb, Indianapolis, is a true believer in the power of graphics as an attention-getting device. The self-styled "Wizard of Comfort" (according to his Web site, talked about how his company went from a simple black-and-white logo to a full-color, life-sized graphic a few months ago.

"The difference is like night and day," he said. "The difference was immediate and more than I could have expected. The very first time our tech drove the truck and pulled into a parking lot, a woman stopped him and said, ‘I just love that truck.'

"Another woman approached me just recently and asked to take a picture of the image because she wanted to have it for her daughter's bedroom, which was in a jungle theme."

Snyder said that his trucks used to blend in with the rest of the vehicles on the road, and now the response has been fantastic, even if the image does not instantly relate to heating and cooling.

"We are going to make it a common name by word association, i.e., March coming in like a lamb and going out like a lion," he said. "It is a stretch, but we can make it work."

He said the name is just as important as the graphic that accompanies it. Snyder drew inspiration for promoting the name from his association with AirTime 500, the contractor group to which he belongs.

"The name Lion and Lamb is memorable and seems to roll off the tongue easily," said Snyder. "It isn't boring like other typical names with ‘comfort' or ‘indoor air' in the company name. Our name sets us apart from the other companies."

Pictured here is one of the “comfort creatures” used by Peaden Air Conditioning to symbolize IAQ problems like dust and animal dander for customers in Panama City, Fla.

Beyond Name Recognition

"Comfort creatures" are the cartoon monsters that Peaden Air Conditioning, Panama City, Fla., uses to put a face on the problems posed by poor indoor air quality (IAQ). Peaden is a member of Excellence Alliance Inc. (EAI). Robert Wilkos, business leader for Peaden, noted that he has been involved in selling good IAQ since the mid-80s, and the cartoons help him get his points across to customers.

"The comfort creature is a perfect fit to bridge the mental gap between a product that is invisible, intangible, and ambiguous," Wilkos said. "We use the creatures as marketing devices when we talk about dust, animal dander, etc."

Wilkos didn't envision the popularity of the creatures when they were first introduced. "The kids jumped all over this," he said. "We started getting calls from mothers who wanted merchandise with comfort creatures as giveaway items. We now have decals that we give out to all kids when we visit the homes. We have refrigerator magnets, and we have it on our apparel.

"I often joke that if we can't sell heat pumps in the off season, we can always sell comfort creature apparel. People have come in asking to buy a hat or shirt or jacket with our creatures on them."

One customer even suggested that Peaden shut down its air conditioning service division and start selling comfort creature plush toys. And true to form, the company is working on a comfort creature stuffed animal. "It is in the development stages right now," noted Wilkos.

Comfort creatures adorn the rear door of company vans, where the image is accompanied by the slogan, "We solve comfort creature problems."

"There is no reference to air conditioning. We wanted to create a curiosity about the company and make people pull up alongside to see our Peaden name."

He said that the company plans to promote the creatures through a marketing campaign involving local schoolchildren. The company wants to sponsor a "name the creature" contest and get all kids in the community involved. His company plans to keep "reinventing" the comfort creatures, too.

"We plan to introduce a different colored creature every year so that our customers see something new and we can refresh our signage so it doesn't get stale," Wilkos said.

Establishing Trust

David Ratliff, co-owner of All American Air LLC in Little Rock, Ark., is a former trainer with International Service Leadership (ISL) and a current contractor member of the group. He recently started up the business and is putting the finishing touches on the graphics. He is using familiar graphics to promote his company - a stars-and-stripes theme featuring the American flag and a bald eagle.

"Our people will have baseball jackets with ‘All American' in red, white, and blue, stars-and-stripes hats, and blue pleated pants with white shirts and the logo in red," he said. "The idea is to use the name which so many people are familiar with.

"It is everything to do with marketing. You want something that everybody knows, trusts, and has positive connotations."

Ratliff said that people in the local supply houses thought he was crazy to open up a shop with such a big splash, since so many businesses are laying off people in the area. "We ran an ad looking for one guy and wound up with 60 responses. We are running like crazy trying to keep up with the work."

Publication date: 11/17/2003