Here are some simple “rules” to think of while considering your Vehicle Wrap…. Remember that you have 2.5 seconds…or less to make an impression. The impression needs to be a “call to action” that makes a potential customer decide to make an effort to contact your company.
Rule #1: Start with a Great Brand
One reason that so many wraps fail from a marketing perspective is because the business has a poor brand identity and logo. The brand should always be the primary message for a vehicle wrap, unless you have national brand recognition. For small businesses trying to make an impact in their community, the message is always about the brand. Starting with a poor brand means you’ve failed before you’ve begun. Don’t waste money on a wrap and miss a huge marketing opportunity.
We generally only do wrap design for clients whose brands we’ve created, because companies who come to us with an existing brand often have a less than desirable one. What is surprising is that we are usually the first ones to tell them that. I guess the other sign companies never mention that because they don’t want to lose the job. While I can understand that, a surprising number of clients really appreciate the candor and the fact that we only have their best interests in mind. It’s too much money to play with. I’m certainly not going to be responsible for wasting your money by trying to work with a brand that has no business being implemented on a wrap. The brand is the message, period.
Rule #2: Don’t Use Photos
I’ve had this discussion often with other sign makers, and some disagree with me on this point. However, I believe that there are few effective wraps that use photos, and I’d argue that any wrap that uses a photo could have been more effectively done without one. The photo is not a brand identity; it doesn’t connect me with the business name. Maybe it connects me with what the company does, but so should a good brand.
Take the usual examples, like the HVAC contractor with a picture of an air conditioner. Great. Now I know you do air conditioning, but who are you? I don’t know, because I only have 2.5 seconds to view the message. Or consider the contractor and the picture of a house. Great. A house. But are you a siding company, a roofing company, a window installer, power-washer, a landscaper or an electrician? I have no idea, since the photo is the dominant element. After my 2.5 seconds are up, your message is lost amidst all the other things trying to grab my attention.
Perhaps on box trucks or trailers you can use a photo, but I’d still argue that more powerful branding would be more effective. National chains have an easier time using photography, because, once again, their brand is already known and the message need not be 100% focused on who or what the brand is. Small businesses don’t have this luxury.
Rule #3: Limit Your Advertising Copy
It’s especially important to keep simple messaging on smaller vehicles.
There are only 3 or 4 things a good wrap needs:
- Strong brand implementation.
- Tagline messaging.
- Web address.
- Phone number.
Bullet lists, which look more like shopping lists, have no place on a vehicle. This isn’t the yellow pages. Would you rather list 10 things and have none remembered, or convey one to two memorable takeaways? If this truck were a billboard, how much copy would be on it? Billboards have the exact same challenges as vehicle advertising. If you prioritize your copy, it will be more effective. In general, the hierarchy should always be: BRAND, TAGLINE, WEB and/or PHONE NUMBER.
Rule #4: Design to Stand Out, Not Fit In
This isn’t the part where many might say diamond plate, carbon fiber, tribal flames will make your truck wrap stand out…….Quite the contrary…….. By eliminating all those fills, noisy backgrounds, photos, bevels, and glows, you’ll be on your way to designing a wrap which actually stands out. The wrap market is littered with visual noise. When we see something with impact — something that we can actually read and remember — it can’t help but stand out among the visual clutter. That’s what is so ironic to me. People think our vehicle wrap designs are innovative simply because they are unlike what everyone else seems to be doing. So — they stand out.
Rule #5: Simple and Obvious is Good
If the viewer needs to work too hard to figure out the primary brand messaging, it’s an opportunity lost. The medium isn’t the same as print design, where the viewer can stop, absorb the advertising and try and understand the message. Consider that primary takeaway you’re hoping to leave with the viewer. What is it? And does the wrap effectively communicate it? Is it lost in the imagery? Distance legibility is, of course, a primary concern. You have very limited time to capture the viewer’s attention and have your brand and message be understood and remembered.