One of the things we at Roland love most about wide-format graphics is their ability to transform just about anything into something completely different. If this strikes a chord with you, then you must really love vehicle wraps. They’re just plain cool.
Wraps also represent one of the final frontiers of unregulated outdoor advertising. How long that will last, we don’t know. What we do know is that there are some tricks of the trade that you can follow to create the perfect wrap.
Dan Antonelli, vehicle wrap expert and President of New Jersey-based Graphic D-Signs, outlines a few in his article titled “Top 5 Rules for Effective Vehicle Wrap Design.” According to the article, the top 5 rules of wrap are:
Rule #1: Start with A Great Brand
Rule #2: Don’t Use Photos
Rule #3: Limit Your Advertising Copy
Rule #4: Design to Stand Out, Not Fit In
Rule #5: Simple and Obvious is Good
We’re in agreement with rules 1, 3, 4 and 5. It’s the second rule in Dan’s list that we would like to discuss a bit further.
#1 Start with a great brand? Absolutely. If it looks bad on letterhead, it will look bad, if not worse, on a vehicle wrap.
#3 Limit your advertising copy? Most people don’t even read their emails. Are they really going to read a paragraph on a car?
#4 Design to stand out, not fit in? That’s a no brainer. Advertising 101.
#5 Simple and obvious is good? There’s never an “always” when it comes to wrap, but as a general rule, people aren’t going to take a lot of time to decipher your vehicle’s graphics.
But what about “Rule #2: Don’t Use Photos?” Our opinion differs here. We agree that photos are used way too much in wide- format printing, but they can work for vehicle wraps when used effectively. The Coke Truck image is a good example. In this scenario, a graphic just wouldn’t be the same. Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words. Using the image creatively is the key.
We admit there are many times that photos shouldn’t be used. If you’re marketing a service, it’s best to go with a graphic. Let’s face it; no one wants to see a photo of their plumber from any angle. It’s also tough to make out a photo on a service vehicle if it’s speeding by you in the opposite direction at 60 MPH. However, many wrapped vehicles are used for promotion. That means they’re often “selling” while parked. The “Duct Dudes” graphic in the wrap below isn’t going to stop people in their tracks, but the right photo can.
Rule #6: (Our own addition to the list) Don’t go cheap. We think that this is the most common mistake in wrap. A bad wrap is worse than a bad haircut. A customer will never, ever come back to a shop for anything if their wrap looks bad or fails. Working with top-of- the-line materials is cheap insurance. Often, vehicle wrap businesses fall into the trap of having one installer teach another installer their “art.” While this method can pass along some valuable knowledge and experience, it can also pass on bad habits just as easily.
Invest in good training, like the Born to Wrap classes we hold at Roland Academy, and before you know it you’ll be wrapping like a pro.
“If it doesn’t sell, it isn’t creative.” — David Ogilvy
Dan Antonelli also serves as Creative Director for advertising agency Graphic D-Signs, which specializes in small business advertising, marketing, and brand development, including HVAC logo design and HVAC web design services.