Now, branding for your bumpers: corporate license plates

Texas offers corporate branding for the road in a new public/private initiative

Cash-strapped states have long offered so-called "vanity" license plates as a way to raise additional revenues. You've seen them -- from obvious messages such as 7KIDS to cryptic code only known to the driver and a few close accomplices. In recent years, plate offerings have expanded to themes with colorful plates, such as lighthouses or indigenous wildlife, as well as affinity groups such as universities, in which the name and logo of your alma mater is stamped on the plates.

Now, the state of Texas is taking the vanity/affinity license plate theme to a whole new level, which presents interesting branding opportunities for businesses: corporate license plates. The first to be offered is a Re/Max plate from the Texas branch of the real estate sales colossus.

As Re/Max of Texas COO and General Counsel Charles El-Moussa put it: "These plates are like mobile billboards all over Texas that give us a unique platform to start conversations..."

The corporate plates program is part of a public/private effort, called My Plates, between the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles and Etech, Inc. and Pinnacle Technical Resources, both based in Texas. Revenues from the Re/Max plates go to help support the Children's Miracle Network charity, as well as the state general revenue fund. The state anticipates a minimum return of $25 million dollars over five years from its vanity, affinity and corporate license plate program.

The public sector has increasingly offered corporations more ways to boost branding, such as we see in large venues such as stadium sponsorships down to corporate sponsorship of local town and school district events. The license plate branding is another interesting strategy in public/private partnerships, though it's not clear how many plates would be sold beyond employees, partners or agents of sponsoring companies. Nevertheless, to see these plates around suggests an immense amount of pride in being part of the Re/Max organization -- what better message is there than that?

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com