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Who Can Rebrand a Man in a Van? Stan Can

When you’re a one-person business, you really can’t afford to have a chip on your shoulder. If you’re mobile bicycle repairman Allen Ray Hill of Reno’s Bicycleray, you keep that chip on your bike wheel instead.

In Hill’s case, “Chip” happens to be the name of an 8-year-old parrotlet who hangs out with him while he’s mending bicycles up and down the Reno/Sparks highways. A bike repairman who comes to you, and who works with a talking parrotlet – surely this is a business that sells itself. Certainly…with a bit of branding help from Reno’s Stan Can Design.


A Quirky Identity
Stan Can Design began crafting an identity for Bicycleray in the Summer of 2013, says copywriter Brian Mann. “That might seem like a long time to design everything we’ve made for him, but you have to remember Ray’s a one-man band – two if you count Chip. He IS the business, and so his rate of growth has to be sustainable. We’ve taken everything one step at a time with him so that he can focus on doing what he does best.”

From the very beginning Hill insisted that his little friend Chip had to be part of whatever logo they came up with. Yet all they had to work from was a low-resolution image of the bird perched in the spokes of a bike wheel (above) – a favorite hangout of his.

Bringing in illustrator Craig Duerksen, “We probably went through a couple hundred sketches all together,” says Mann. The resulting logo is highly focused on a cartoony Chip, a quirky rendering with a slight DIY feel to it – a good fit for a one-of-a-kind service that is naturally hands-on.

“I believe the more niche services are easier to brand because they tend to have a stronger, more unique selling point,” says Mann – in this case the I-come-to-you aspect of Bicycleray’s business model. “Those small niche brands are also usually more comfortable with a personal brand, which allows us to have a little more freedom as creatives.”


Van Go
And make no mistake – freedom was most definitely enjoyed with this project. While Stan Can Design developed a website, business cards and other elements you might expect, it was with the wrapping of Hill’s van in August that they truly outdid themselves.

“The Bicycleray van was tricky for a number of reasons,” Mann explains. “Originally when we found out Ray bought a silver van instead of white, we were a little hesitant; it’s obviously easier to design around the color white than silver. Thankfully, silver and orange are pretty complementary. That’s when we decided we didn’t want to do a full wrap because we wanted to maintain that silver color. With the back half fully wrapped, it makes it look like that’s where all the Bicycleray tuning and fixing is happening.

“Our experience has taught us that sometimes old-fashioned cut vinyl has a more solid and vibrant look than process printing. We worked carefully with Graphics Unlimited to produce this hybrid design. The entire design is cut vinyl except for ‘Chip,’ which is process printing on a reflective substrate. Even though the van is small, it really has a great presence and commands respect. Kind of like Ray and Chip.”


One Hand on the Spanner, One on the Mouse
When you spend your days racing around town picking up customers’ KO’d bikes, repairing them, and dropping them off again, you don’t have a lot of time to tweet or make Facebook updates. Still, if you’re a business and you’re NOT on social media, you’re operating at a severe disadvantage today.

“Ray was pretty removed from the social media world,” Mann admits. “He had a personal Facebook, but hadn’t used it in so long that we couldn’t even log into it! He definitely did not use Twitter.

“We kept bringing up the idea of social media to Ray and how useful it would be for a business as small as his. He was always taking pictures of cool bikes or vintage parts with his phone, so things like Facebook and Instagram just made sense. We had to take the lead, designing all the cover photos and icons and getting him an initial following. Ray’s a whiz, though – he picked it up in no time and eventually we couldn’t even keep up with him.”

Today, business is doing well and Ray Hill is racking up the miles on his new Bicycleray van: one more instance of Stan Can Design’s handiwork on the streets of Reno.

“We do plenty of automobile design work for our clients; it’s something we really like doing,” says Mann. “If we’re out having lunch and the Sierra Meat & Seafood trucks drive by, we get pretty excited.”


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Author: Aaron Berman

A former writer and editor for USA Today, Aaron Berman is also the editor of PaperSpecs, and covered the newspaper industry for the Newspaper Association of America’s monthly magazine, Presstime.

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