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photo of lunch room with two murals and one large word cloud wall decal

Large Format Branding Best Practices

FEBRUARY 22, 2021| SpeedPro Greenville

Thinking of investing in large format printing to increase brand awareness for your business? We’ve got 10 best practices for you to consider as you dive into the world of large format printing.

1. Keep your brand consistent

First and foremost, you want to keep a consistent face for your brand by making sure the new branding matches, or is at least similar to, you current branding.

This doesn’t mean you have to copy and paste what you’ve already got. You can change as little or as much of your design as you’d like, though most brands prefer you stay within brand guidelines (specific fonts, colors, themes or messages, etc.). Unless, of course, you’re going for a total facelift.

A brand change of any type requires more than changing a company name or color scheme. We suggest taking a step back and really evaluating the different aspects of your brand before investing in new branding material.

2. Make sure your investment makes an impact

If you’re going to spend money on something, it makes sense to have that something worthwhile. No one wants to make a change and have the effect pass by unnoticed.

Sometimes, clever placement is all it takes to make something stand out. Say you invest in an a-frame or flag banner to advertise a sale or new store opening. Make sure those are visible and drawing in traffic. With a wall mural, you may want to install it in the lobby, rather than the break room where no customers will see it.

The purpose of the investment also determines where it gets placed. For instance, a funny quote could be installed in an employee bathroom or on a lobby wall, depending on your goal for the decal. That wall mural would make sense in the back room if its purpose is to boost employee morale.

3. Be specific when talking interacting with vendors

Vendors can do a lot for you, but one thing they can’t do is read your mind. A designer isn’t going to know how you want your artwork to look unless you tell them. A printer won’t know what material to print on unless they understand your project. An installer doesn’t know where you want your decals without direction.

If you want something to look a certain way, say so at the beginning of the process. Most designers, printers and installers welcome clear and specific instruction. Best practice: assume the person you’re talking to doesn’t have an idea what you want for your project.

4. Have high quality artwork

One of the greatest time killers for a designer is trying to convert low quality graphics or images into print ready files. Most designers charge by the hour as well, and the conversion process adds unwanted time to the clock.

Preferred file formats include vector PDFs, EPS or Ai files. These types of files hold vector images, which in simple terms means the logo, text or graphic will keep the same quality whether viewed on the screen or blown up to printed scale. There is no pixelation when a vector file is enlarged.

On the other hand, JPEGs and PNGs tend to pixelate when blown up to scale unless the file is very high quality. A JPEG or PNG is made up of pixels, and when those pixels are enlarged, the image becomes fuzzy and pixelated.

Your best bet for a high-quality print is to provide vectors or high-quality images.

 

5. Make sure artwork is to scale

If you’re bringing in your own artwork, you’ll want to make sure it is scalable to the size you want it printed or you don’t mind it being cropped.

Say you have a high quality image that is 4,673 pixels wide by 3,351 pixels high (19.47”w x 13.96”h) and you want to print it as a 35” x 35” print to hang on your wall. Photo quality is great, so there’s no worry about the image pixelating when printed. However, the current rectangular image won’t perfectly scale to a square print.

This can be easily remedied by cropping your image, choosing a different print size or changing the image altogether.

6. Use legible fonts and colors

Some fonts look great but are difficult to read from a distance and sometimes even up close (i.e., some scripty fonts, small blocky fonts, etc.). If you want your large format print to be legible from afar, you may want to choose your font carefully or make the lettering extra-large.

A similar mindset applies to color choices as well. For instance, your background should not overpower or be the same color as your message. Having too many similar colors on a print can cause your message to get lost.

7. The most important real estate on a vehicle wrap is the rear

This tip might seem kind of odd, but think about it. When you’re driving down the road, what part of your vehicle do people notice most? The side of your vehicle as they pass by in a flash or the back of your vehicle as they follow you down the road? A pass-by may generate quick impressions, but it’s the people behind you who will have time to read what’s on your vehicle.

Some vehicles don’t have much room for decals, but you can utilize the space available. Most vehicles with little available rear body space have a rear window where information can be located. Some key ingredients for your vehicle rear include: logo, phone number, services. Let the people know who you are, what you do and how to contact you.

8. Check and recheck!

When you get the proof for your design, make sure everything looks right! Check your phone number, email, website and other text to make sure everything is accurate. Confirmation on the design equals a green light to print for most printers, so make sure everything is right before you send the go-ahead.

9. Make sure surface is ready for install

This tip applies specifically to vehicles, walls and glass/windows. A clean surface elongates the lifetime of an application.

Vehicles

Make sure to wash your vehicle before dropping it off for install. Vinyl will not stick to a dirty surface for long; the dirt and grime keeps the adhesive from fully attaching to your vehicle’s paint. Installers will take a cloth and wipe down the vehicle, but most installers charge extra to fully wash the vehicle.

Vehicles also need to be completely dry for install. When water gets behind vinyl, it stays trapped until it eventually separates the vinyl from the vehicle paint. If there’s a small amount of water on the vehicle, your installer will take care of it, but try to avoid going through the car wash right before your scheduled install.

If your vehicle had vinyl previously and residue was left behind during removal, Goof-Off should do the trick. Just take an old rag or towel and start scrubbing away.

Walls

Putting vinyl on newly painted walls could cause the vinyl to peel right off.  The paint might be dry to the touch, but the paint usually takes about a month to fully cure. As paint cures, it emits gases. Vinyl acts like an airtight seal, and if vinyl is installed on the wall before the paint is fully cured, the gases will eventually push the vinyl off the wall.

Best practice is to wait three weeks to a month after painting your walls to have a mural or decal installed.

The edges of chips in the paint will show up under vinyl. Small chips may not be noticeable, but large holes will be. Simply sanding down the edges of the paint should do the trick, but repainting that portion of the wall is a better option.

Glass

Similar to vehicles, interior and exterior glass should be cleaned for installation best results. If a painted frame holds the glass pane, be sure the paint is scraped off the glass itself. This ensures a flat, clean surface for the material to adhere to.

10. Know how to best take care of your new graphics

Last but not least, we can’t have your fresh graphics looking nasty within a few months. Care of large format prints differs from material to material.cleaning supplies

Vehicles

The best way to keep your vehicle wrap looking fresh is to hand wash or soft wash the vehicle. It may be tedious, but the hard brushes and water pressure in a drive through car wash can cause vinyl to rip or begin to peel.

Walls

Wall graphics are easy to care for. Every couple months, simply use a lint-free cloth or sponge to remove dust and debris, wiping from the top down. If your mural or decal happens to get stained, use a damp cloth or sponge and a mild soap to remove the stain. Try to avoid using harsh chemicals on the vinyl.

 

When you’re planning to invest in large format graphics, you’re already thinking about so many aspects that it’s easy to lose sight of some of the smaller considerations. We at SpeedPro Greenville will do our best to help you cover all your bases. We’d love to help you with your next large format branding project!

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SpeedPro Greenville

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Gregg Richey

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