Innovative Trucking Technology × Strategic Design = Road Science

There’s nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come—except for maybe a fiercely independent-minded potential user base steeped in tradition, somewhat averse to regulation and resistant to new technologies. A pioneer in onboard technology for the highly fragmented, tightly regulated, intensely competitive and tremendously cost-pressured trucking industry, Xata Corporation—now XRS Corporation—(XRSC: Nasdaq) looked to us to help them firmly establish a leadership position as they made the transition from hardware provider to provider of more nimble and cost-effective software as a service (SAAS).

Mapping the Route

Creating and executing an effective brand strategy demands deep understanding of a client’s challenges and opportunities. We worked with key members of the Xata leadership team including the CEO, CMO, COO, CTO, Executive VPs of Sales, Product Strategy and Field Operations, and Director of Brand Management to develop a rich knowledge base relating to the scale, complexities and regulatory environment of the trucking industry, and the company’s past, present and future within it. We audited and analyzed competitors and interviewed existing hardware customers and existing and prospective software customers to gain a sense of the prevailing perceptions held by their target market, a process that also gave us valuable insight into the culture of the trucking industry.

In short, collectively we figured out where they were, where we thought they wanted to go, and what challenges and opportunities the landscape between points A and B might present.

  • We articulated Xata’s short- and long-term objectives
  • We defined their stakeholder audiences and what mattered most to each
  • We identified the key decision triggers that would resonate with their target customers
  • We determined what success would look like for Xata from a brand communication / positioning standpoint

Then we started the creative engine and stepped on the gas pedal.


Articulation and Execution

Trucking is all about numbers. Miles/kilometers driven. Speed. Gallons/liters of fuel consumed. Driver hours of service. Engine idle time. Hard braking incidents. Fuel tax calculations. Number of trucks on the road. Etc. Etc. Etc.

Xata’s technology is designed to relieve drivers of the burdensome task of tracking, calculating and recording data—a process that, believe it or not, is still happening on paper in many cases—and to provide fleet owners and managers with an any-time picture of every asset, both human and mechanical, that they have on the road. That information flow provides opportunities to identify and promote changes in driver behavior or decision making that, over time and tremendous distance can result in massive cost savings for larger fleets, or make the difference between profit and loss for owner operators.

Those fundamental aspects of Xata’s business informed the development of a unique messaging platform—Road Science—and a visual language used to unify all aspects of a new brand expression. Beginning with an intentionally evolutionary corporate identity, we developed a consistent look, feel and tone of voice that we applied to a full range of communication vehicles including business papers, website, private social network, sales collateral, sales and corporate presentations, email marketing, advertising, packaging, signage and physical spaces, videos, data visualizations, animated product tours and annual user conference.

Carefully crafted messaging designed to address trigger issues and overcome resistance to new technology within the prospective user base continues to reach the market via digital marketing, advertising, unearned and social media. Driving inbound marketing and generating direct sales leads, those communication efforts have successfully shortened sales cycles, significantly reduced the company’s cost of sales and improved its customer experience, all positives that flow right to the bottom line.

And as Xata pushed hard to leverage its head start in SAAS technology into a groundbreaking new bring-your-own-device product, we consulted on user interface and reporting design and developed a name and nomenclature system for the new offering that honors the legacy of Xata and incorporates the sophistication of Road Science. The immediate universal acceptance of the new product name, XRS, ultimately drove an executive and board level decision to completely rename the company.


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Xata is now XRS. Through its Road Science messaging platform, the company has most definitely claimed the high ground in its space. And through smart, targeted and consistent brand communication surrounding its innovative new technologies, it is successfully exiting its legacy hardware business while simultaneously growing sales of its more efficient, cost-effective, user friendly and higher margin mobile SAAS.

 Traditional trade advertising and trade show efforts have been replaced by strategic email and adword campaigns, campaign-specific landing pages, SEO and social media that now generate significant visibility and inbound communication—a shift that has enabled XRS to move away from a third-party lead generation vendor by bringing that function 100% in house. Over a two year period, this carefully researched, conceived, articulated and executed strategic design program has refreshed and reinvigorated the company, increased brand awareness and perceived value among key audiences in existing and new markets, and resulted in a paradigm shift that has driven the percentage of all sales leads generated by XRS website from less than 10% to approximately 75-80%.

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This visualization illustrates the full extent of our engagement with this particular client, broken down by the percentage of specific capabilities we provided during the relationship.

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  • General
  • Individual
  1. I Understanding / strategy
    1. A Research
    2. B Data visualization
    3. C Brand strategy
  2. II Conceptualization / articulation
    1. D Naming / nomenclature
    2. E Positioning / message development
    3. F Copywriting / content development
  3. III Communication design / execution
    1. G Corporate identity
    2. H Video / motion graphics
    3. I Web design / development
    4. J Physical spaces
    5. K Collateral / publications
    6. L Events / experiences
    7. M Digital media / marketing
    8. N Social media
    9. O Packaging
  4. IV Measurement / consulting
    1. P Search engine marketing
    2. Q Creative consultation
    3. R Innovation workshops