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Branding “Stranded”

By George L. Nitti

Most experienced motorists are acquainted with the sinking feeling of being stranded on the roadway.

To capitalize on this universal affliction, one towing company went so far as to name themselves “Stranded,” with hopes to reach a broader audience by creating a distinct brand capturing motorist angst.

In 1994, Charles Ellis started Stranded Towing, based out of Indianapolis, Ind., realizing a boyhood dream.

He said, “At 12 my father asked me what I wanted to do. I said, ‘Dad, I want to own tow trucks.’ I bought my first tow truck at age 13, customizing it in 1982, before I could even drive it. Today, our trucks set the standard for how clean tow trucks can be.”

Their 2019 Freightliner M2 with a 22 ft Jerr Dan bed sets a high standard, both in cleanliness and design, where it stands out with its bright, colorful lettering, which Ellis credits his daughter for creating 22 years ago.

“When she was in elementary school, I told her to color it in the way you see it on a business card. I wanted the letters in “stranded” to be put in blocks and in different colors,” Ellis said.

The “Stranded” name is now clearly visible on their four trucks, with unique lettering that stands out just as the bold, colorful lettering does on the Google brand.

Ellis said, “It’s catchy. It’s simple. It’s what we needed to say. And it’s easy to remember.”

Yet, Ellis maintained that he had a larger objective: to work with a network of companies under the “Stranded” name.

He said, “I don’t want a fleet of trucks. I want an influx of phone calls.”

Hence, Ellis’ strategy was to build a brand that dispatches calls for other towing companies, effectively bypassing motor clubs, so that towers can be paid now rather than later at fair market rates.

“We work with about 50 companies in different areas,” Ellis said. “There are GPS units on these tow trucks so the dispatch is a lot smoother and cleaner. There is one number to call when you are stranded and we use the local tow company to run those calls.”

Afterall, when you are stranded, does it matter the name of the truck that picks you up? Just call “Stranded” for relief.

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