DESIGNING AND INSTALLING YOUR VEHICLE WRAP: WHAT TO DONOVEMBER 3, 2020| SpeedPro Silver Spring
Out-of-home advertising, or outdoor advertising, is a highly successful way for brands to reach an audience beyond traditional marketing methods, such as print ads and TV commercials. One popular format of outdoor advertising 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, the average American spends 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 can be an impactful advertising medium, there’s more to creating a vehicle wrap to promote your company than might meet the eye. As with any advertisement, design plays an important role when it comes to helping you get your message out there. Avoid some of the more common vehicle wrap design mistakes to make sure your message reaches your audience and is heard loud and clear.
PRINCIPLES TO GUIDE YOUR CUSTOM VEHICLE WRAP DESIGN
Although it’s common to think of design as something that’s artistic and free, something that doesn’t have “rules” or “requirements,” the reality is that good design is based on a set of principles. When someone ignores the principles of good design, the message they want to get across can get lost, and the overall impact the advertisement has on a viewer 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 is:
- As little design as possible
Keep these principles in mind as you design your custom vehicle wrap to help you develop an eye-catching and balanced display.
FLEET WRAP DESIGN: WHAT TO DO
When it comes to designing vehicle wraps, there are multiple ways to put Rams’ principles into practice. Implementing the following practices will allow you to design a fleet wrap that’s useful, understandable, aesthetically pleasing and otherwise able to fulfill the basic principles of good design.
1. KEEP YOUR TEXT BRIEF
For the most part, people are going to see your vehicle wrap as they drive by your car or truck. Even if they are walking along a sidewalk and look at your vehicle, they are still going to be in motion for much of their interaction with your design. For that reason, you want to keep your messaging short and sweet.
Limit your text to the most critical details, such as:
- Brand name
- Tag line or slogan
- A bulleted list of services
- Email address and website
- Locations served
- Phone number
- Call to action
2. MAKE THE TEXT LARGE AND READABLE
Skip the “fine print” when you’re designing a vehicle wrap. It’s likely that no one will get close enough to the car or truck to read anything printed on the wrap in tiny print. For the most part, the bigger, the better when it comes to the size of the text, as long as everything fits on the vehicle and is visible to others on the road.
Remember, people are likely to look at your vehicle for a short time as they’re on the move, so you need a large, simple message that people can absorb with just a quick glance.
Some 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 will be readable from a maximum of 10 feet away. For each added inch of letter height, you gain another 10 feet of readability.
3. CHOOSE LEGIBLE, SIMPLE FONTS
The type of font you choose also influences whether or not people can read your wrap as they drive by at 55 mph. Some fonts are just too difficult to decipher, such as scripts or any other font that’s designed to look like handwriting. 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.
4. KEEP YOUR DESIGN SIMPLE
Designing a custom vehicle wrap can be fun. You get to play around with colors and patterns and find ways to express what your business is, visually. One thing to avoid doing when designing your wrap is throwing everything, including the kitchen sink, into the design.
A busy design is difficult to read and can even make people want to turn away. What are a few signs that a vehicle wrap has too much going on for its own good?
- 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 you have on your wrap, the more you have to worry about arranging them and getting the contrasts just right.
- Loud or overlapping patterns: If you’re using a patterned background for your wrap, consider skipping photographs or other visual design elements. If a lot is going on regarding color, patterns, and images, people might not notice the critical parts of your wrap, such as your name and contact details.
Opting for a more simplistic design will let the elements you’ve chosen “pop” off the wrap, demanding and grabbing attention.
5. CLEARLY IDENTIFY YOUR BRAND
You’ve spent time and money creating your vehicle wrap with the goal of using it to build awareness of your brand identity and possibly land new customers. Don’t make the mistake of not letting people know who you are. Forgetting to brand your wrap can mean anything from leaving your business name or logo off of it to designing it in a way that doesn’t take your company’s signature color scheme or style into account.
Not branding your wraps can be a particularly significant mistake for companies that have already built up some brand or name recognition. Imagine if you saw a vehicle driving down the street that claimed to be promoting a new sandwich at McDonald’s. But nowhere on the vehicle were the iconic Golden Arches visible and the brand name was printed in an unfamiliar font across the car’s hood. You’re not likely to think that the wrap is associated with the real McDonald’s and are probably going to ignore it or think it’s a phony.
6. USE HIGH CONTRAST COLORS
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 to decipher, especially if people are seeing your vehicle for a few seconds on the road.
For best results, stick with high contrast color schemes. If you have a white background, choose dark colors for the text. If you have a dark background, pick light colors. If you’re going to mix and match colors, 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.
7. DESIGN WITH YOUR VEHICLE IN MIND
Remember to keep the size of the vehicle in mind when designing your wrap. 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 will serve as t
he canvas for your design, you need to create a wrap design that is perfectly tailored to your vehicle. To get a perfect fit with your wrap, you need to factor in the make and model of your vehicle, as well as any aftermarket modifications or other details that could affect the way your wrap fits your vehicle.
8. REMEMBER YOUR VEHICLE’S CURVES
Most modern vehicles are graceful and curvy, rather than boxes with straight-up-and-down sides. Although you’ll see straight sides on some tractor trailers, if you’re designing a wrap for a pick-up truck, van, or sedan, you’re going to want to account for the curves and slopes of the vehicle.
That can mean remembering that your text might get distorted or your design may be uneven if it has to drape over a bump or protrusion on the side of the car. Design with these curves in mind, so your wrap lays nicely and clearly on the vehicle.
9. PLACE CRITICAL INFORMATION ON ALL SIDES OF THE VEHICLE
When designing a vehicle wrap, you get to focus on four surfaces — the hood a
nd roof, the passenger side, the driver’s side, and the rear of the vehicle. Although it might be nice to think that you have four separate areas to build your design on, in reality, you want to make sure that what people see on the driver’s side of the vehicle is the same as what people see on the passenger side.
When people pass your wrapped vehicle on the road, they aren’t going to have the chance to walk all the way around your truck or car. They’ll see whatever is printed on the side of the vehicle that faces them. That means that if you only print your phone number on the driver’s side of the wrap, anyone who passes it on the passenger side won’t get that useful piece of information.
A good rule of thumb to follow when designing your vehicle wrap is to make sure that all the essential information, like your name and contact information, is accessible no matter the viewing angle.
10. PAY ATTENTION TO THE ROOF DESIGN
For the most part, people driving or walking by your vehicle on the street won’t be able to see the roof. That’s especially true if you’re wrapping a large vehicle, like a full-size pick-up truck or a cargo van.
Although the average passerby won’t see the roof of your vehicle, it can still be an essential part of your wrap, and it’s still worth considering the vehicle’s roof when planning out the design. If you park your vehicle in front of a tall building, the roof will be visible to anyone peering out of a window from the second floor or above. For that reason, it can be worthwhile to have your company’s name and contact information, as well as other elements of the design, included on the roof of the vehicle. Check out fun ways to design a unique roof here.
If you’ve never designed a vehicle wrap before 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 fleet wrap design that gets your message across and convinces anyone who sees it to take action.
NEXT STEP: INSTALLATION AND HOW TO DO IT RIGHT
Once you’ve got the design of your vehicle wraps down, the next step is to install the wraps on the cars or trucks. It’s at this stage of the process where a lot of good wraps can go wrong. A poor installation job can make a wrap difficult to read or can otherwise obscure its message. To help your wrap work its magic, be sure to follow these practices.
1. OPT FOR PROFESSIONAL INSTALLATION
Installing vehicle wraps usually requires specialty tools and professional know-how. People who install vehicle and fleet wraps for a living have training and experience in doing the job. They understand all of the intricacies of applying a wrap to a vehicle and know just what to do to make sure the wrap is smooth and long-lasting.
This means you can generally get far better results when you choose a professional installation rather than trying to install the wrap yourself — skip the DIY and seek help from experienced installers.
2. CHOOSE THE RIGHT MATERIALS
The vinyl used to create vehicle wraps is a type of specialty material designed to last for years, even after exposure to wind, rain, snow and so on. Settling for a material that might be cheaper could jeopardize the longevity and durability of your wraps.
Choosing the right material is also important based on where the wrap is installed. For example, if parts of the wrap cover your vehicle’s windows, it’s essential you use a special type of vinyl that lets people inside the car see out.
3. HAVE ENOUGH MATERIAL
When it comes to wrapping your vehicle, it’s better to have too much material rather than too little. Although having an excessive amount of vinyl can seem wasteful, it’s better than the alternative — not having enough material. If there’s not enough material to fully cover the vehicle, the installer might try to stretch the vinyl, which can create white streaks on the material. Those streaks can interfere with your design or make the vehicle look less appealing.
A vehicle wrap installer should be aware of the measurements of your car and truck and aware of how the shape and design of the vehicle will affect the amount of material your wrap needs.
4. PREPARE YOUR VEHICLE
The best surface for installing a vehicle wrap is a clean, smooth surface. Cars and trucks should be free from dirt, dust, and debris before the vinyl wrap is installed. If the vehicle has recently had a paint job, it’s best to wait a few weeks before applying the wrap to give the paint time to cure.
Usually, professional installers will rinse the surface of the car with a special solution just before installation to ensure that any lingering oil residues and other dirt are washed away. This will help you get the best result possible.
VEHICLE WRAPS FROM SPEEDPRO
Fleet and vehicle wraps allow your company to capitalize on traffic and connect with a captive audience. The better the design, the more impactful and effective your vehicle wrap will be. When you partner with SpeedPro Silver Spring for vehicle wrap printing, you’ll also benefit from our knowledgeable staff who can help answer your questions and offer guidance to ensure you get a result that meets or exceeds your expectations.
If you’re looking to get started on the design and installation of a vehicle wrap, contact our studio and get started working with our team of experts today. Soon, you’ll be raising your brand awareness and advertising your company every time you hit the road.