JANUARY 26, 2021| SpeedPro Pittsburgh North



Mobile advertising is another tool for reaching a target audience beyond traditional print, commercials or email and social media ads. Many display options are available for companies looking for ways to use outdoor advertising to reach consumers. A very popular and cost effective format is the vehicle wrap. More than 46,000 wrapped vehicles navigated the streets of the U.S. in 2017, reaching a potential audience of millions.

Every day, average Americans spend a little under one hour behind the wheel of a car. With around 328 million people living in the U.S., there are about 328 million hours worth of opportunity to connect with people on the road each day.

While vehicle wraps are an impactful advertising vehicle, there’s more to creating a vehicle wrap for brand promotion that meets the eye. As with any advertisement, design plays an important role when clearly and quickly presenting a message. Avoid some of the more common vehicle wrap mistakes to make sure your message is heard loud and clear.

Good design is based on a set of principles.


Although it’s common to think of design as something that’s artistic and free, without “rules” or “requirements,” the reality is that good design is based on a set of design principles. When principles of good design are overlooked, the message can get lost, and the overall impact the advertisement is reduced.

The basic principles of good design are often credited to Dieter Rams, an industrial designer who worked with the small electronic appliance maker Braun in the 1970s. According to Rams’ principles, good design follows the following principles:

  1. Good design is innovative
  2. Good design makes a product useful
  3. Good design is aesthetic
  4. Good design makes a product understandable
  5. Good design is unobtrusive
  6. Good design is honest
  7. Good design is long-lasting
  8. Good design is thorough down to the last detail
  9. Good design is environmentally-friendly
  10. Good design is as little design as possible

Keep these principles in mind as we work together to create your custom vehicle wrap developing an eye-catching and balanced display.


When it comes to designing vehicle wraps, there are multiple ways to implement Rams’ suggestions. Avoiding the following common mistakes produces a design that is useful, understandable, and aesthetically pleasing.


Practically speaking, vehicle wraps are most often viewed in the midst of traffic.  Even a parked vehicle is usually only viewed on the go so it’s important to keep messaging concise.

Keep things short and sweet when it comes to the amount of information you include on your vehicle wrap

Limit your text to the most critical details, such as:

  • Brand name
  • Tag line or slogan
  • A short bulleted list of services
  • Website address
  • Locations served
  • Phone number


Designing a custom vehicle wrap can be fun. Colors and patterns can be applied to express a businesses attributes, visually. Avoid the impulse to include everything about the business into the wrap.

A busy design is difficult to read and can even make people want to turn away for visual relief. Here are a few indicators that a vehicle wrap has too much design.

  • Too much text: As mentioned, take a less-is-more approach when it comes to text, only including the most pertinent information.
  • Too many colors: Choose a color scheme of two or three colors, maximum, unless your logo is a rainbow or something similar. The more colors included, the more you work to in arranging to get the contrasts to be visually attractive.
  • Loud or overlapping patterns: When using a patterned background, consider skipping photographs or other visual design elements. If a lot is going on regarding color, patterns and images, viewers might lose the overall concept and not notice the critical parts of your wrap, such as the company name and mission.

Opting for a more simplistic design allows targeted elements to be front and center, demanding and grabbing attention.


Skip the “fine print”. It’s unlikely anyone will get close enough or take the time to read small print. For the most part, the bigger, the better when it comes text size, as long as everything fits bigger is usually better.

Remember, people are likely to look at your vehicle for a short time as they’re on the move, a large, simple message that immediately resonates a message is more effective.

Most viewers may also be a fair distance away. With any outdoor signage, it’s smart to follow the 10-by-1 rule, which states that text with one-inch-tall letters is readable from a maximum of 10 feet. For each added inch of letter height, another 10 feet of readability is gained.


Find a font that is both legible and pleasing to read. Some fonts are difficult to decipher at a glance, while others are overused and frankly just boring. Even serif fonts, which are usually ideal for print materials, can be tricky to read at a distance or when someone is speeding past.

To make your vehicle wrap as legible as possible, go for sans serif fonts — like Arial or Helvetica — or the simplest serif fonts and leave the scripts behind.  See this article from the Fast Company for great font suggestions.


Time and money will be spent creating a vehicle wrap with the goal of using it to build brand awareness letting people know and remember the company name. Forgetting to brand a wrap can mean anything from not giving enough attention to the business name or logo.

Improperly branded wraps can be a particularly significant mistake for companies that have already built brand or name recognition. Imagine seeing a vehicle that claims to promote a new sandwich at McDonald’s. But nowhere on the vehicle were the iconic Golden Arches or brand name printed in the common brand font. You’re likely to miss that the main marketing message of McDonald’s launching a new menu item.  Be sure promote brand recognition ALWAYS.


Be strong in ignoring popular design trends that run contrary to basic design principles. Some graphic designers may want to present a minimalist aesthetic to the world with a low contrast design. While low-contrast designs — such as using light gray text on a white background or light blue text on a medium blue background — might look pretty, they tend to be challenging quick readability. That’s especially true for a vehicle wrap when there is only a very limited time to visually engage and understand a branding message.

For best results, stick with high contrast color schemes

For best results, stick with high contrast color schemes. For white backgrounds, choose dark text. For dark backgrounds, pick light colors. When mixing and matching colors from the color wheel, choose complementary colors opposite each other on the wheel for the most contrast. For example, purple letters will stand out against a yellow background, and orange letters will be highly visible on a blue background.


Remember to keep the size of the vehicle in mind when designing fleet or company wraps. A design that will work well on a small VW bug is likely to be tiny when printed on the side of an 18-wheeler. Likewise, a design meant for a full-size pickup truck isn’t going to be the appropriate scale for a compact car.

Beyond just considering the general size and shape that serves as the canvas for a design,  create a wrap design that is perfectly tailored to your vehicle. To get a perfect fit, factor in the make and model, as well as any aftermarket modifications or other details that could affect the way a wrap fits the vehicle.


The trend for modern vehicles is to be graceful and curvy, rather than boxy with straight-up-and-down sides. Although you’ll see straight sides on trailers or food trucks, most vehicles designs should consider windows, curved fenders and trim.

That can mean remembering that your text might get distorted if it has to drape over a bump or protrusion on the side of the car. It also means recognizing that a design might not be even if you create it with a flat, straight side in mind and end up draping it over a curvy vehicle.


When designing a vehicle wrap, focus on four surfaces — the hood, the passenger side, the driver’s side and the rear of the vehicle. Although it might be nice to think there are four separate areas for design, but in reality, the sides should be basically the same.

When the vehicle is passed on the road, only one side is viewed, so every side needs to be a complete message. A good rule of thumb to follow when designing is to include essential information, like company name, logo and contact information, on each of the four important areas.


For the most part, people driving or walking by won’t be able to see a vehicle roof. That’s especially true when wrapping a large vehicle, like a full-size pick-up truck or cargo van.

Moe's roof wrap

Although the average passerby won’t see the roof of a vehicle, it can still be an essential element of the wrap, and it’s worth considering including the vehicle roof when planning the design. When a vehicle is parked outside a tall building or viewed by larger trucks, the roof will be visible. For that reason, it can be worthwhile to have the company’s name and contact information, as well as other elements of the design, included on the roof.  People also love a “gotcha” type graphic.

If you’ve never designed a vehicle wrap and are unsure where to get started, remember that you don’t have to do it alone. The experts at SpeedPro can help you create a vehicle wrap design that gets your message across and convinces potential customers to take action.

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SpeedPro Pittsburgh North

Studio Owner

Rich Arrington