My Vehicle Can Advertise and So Can Yours!
Vans, trucks, cars-all have something in common. They're a key advertising tool. If you have a company vehicle that delivers products or transports people from your office to your customer's site, why not advertise along the way? Lettered vehicles provide enormous advertising power and legitimacy to your business. First, they're great big graphics, visible from a distance, even turning heads as you drive down the road. In your lettered step-up van, you look just like the "big guys" who maintain a fleet of vehicles. And while you may only have a single pickup truck, you advance your company into true "business class" when you add graphics to the doors and panels. Consider this: your lettered van is a very large sign. Park it as close and perpendicular to the road as possible so oncoming traffic can read it from both directions. This is particularly effective in towns and cities that have strict sign ordinances. If your identity sign (your permanent exterior signage) is small, or if you're disallowed from using sidewalk A-frames and other temporary signs, a parked vehicle will provide additional advertising legally and effectively.
Today, business names don't necessarily identify the type of enterprise you're in. They may contain a second meaning-a play on words, for instance-or set a tone without revealing the actual nature of your business. But a business name, logo, and motto or tagline remain integral parts of your professional identity. Take Nike. The swoosh all by itself is immediately recognizable. The tagline, Just Do it, extends way beyond Nike's plea to buy their product. It's a universal message that means "Seize the day. Push beyond your own expectations." The swoosh and Just Do it are seen on sneakers,magazine ads, and Nike's own shoe boxes. If you read "Just Do It" in an ad, don't you know whose product is advertised? So you don't produce world class footwear, but your logo and motto are equally important to your business. They're part of your identity. Your customers associate your business with your name, often just by seeing the logo or reading your motto. You promote this recognition by including your logo and motto on business cards, letterhead and advertising. Your advertising should include vehicle graphics as well.
Image is Everything!
We see our customer Mike's truck quite often-more than once a week-cruising down the road showing off its distinctive graphic message. It's proof that Mike is busy serving his customers and it gives the impression that Mike has more than one truck on the road. The truck says to us, besides the obvious message, that he has a successful business. And in fact, he does. While you're identifying your business with vehicle graphics, you're also establishing this type of positive image. Easy-to-read and graphically appealing logos are head-turners. Neat, colorfully applied vehicle graphics further your business reputation. People want to associate with a business that looks successful. A clean truck with quality vinyl graphics looks professional and conveys a feeling of good will to your customers.
How are the Graphics Made?
Vehicle graphics are created with a computer, plotter, thermal transfer system and rolls of adhesive-backed vinyl. Or, they are printed onto vinyl in full-color using a wide-format digital printer. These processes include computer layout, scanning camera-ready artwork or importing computer artwork from disc or email transmission. With all materials in hand, the lettering and logos are arranged and sized by a computer graphics specialist into a pleasing design custom crafted to fit your vehicle. Simple vehicle graphics are typically one or two colors of text and a line drawing logo in one or two colors. The text and art are laid out using a software program that in turn drives a vinyl cutter. The adhesive-backed vinyl is then cut and trimmed to shape by the plotter and then applied directly to the vehicle surface. When graphics become complex-including lots of colors, fades or even photographs-the mechanism to produce them changes. That's when digital printing is used. With these methods, the complex image is ink-jet printed onto vinyl and then cut with a plotter as needed. Whichever method is used to create them, the graphics are durable for a minimum of five years of outdoor use.
Permanent Vehicle Graphics
The printed or cut vinyl graphics adhere directly to the sides of your vehicle. Their pliability and strong adhesive backing allow them to wrap around curves and moulding. For vehicles whose windows will be covered- such as fully wrapped buses and jet airplanes-a micro-perforated,high performance vinyl is used. This provides full graphic coverage while allowing passengers inside the vehicle to see out. Again, multicolored logos, shadows, and outlines can best be created with solvent-based inkjet-printing on vinyl.
Signs that Come On and Off
In some cases, you may prefer to have signs that come on and off. These are called magnetics. You've seen them; they're smaller rectangles, ovals and circles and are displayed on the doors of pickups and sides of vans. Magnetic signs-so called because they are held on the vehicle via a magnetic backing-can be cut to shape, made with any color background, and come in a limited variety of sizes. The material is manufactured in standard 24" high rolls that are several yards long, so graphics can measure up to 24" in one dimension and extend as long as desired in the other. Perhaps best of all, magnetics are removable when your company vehicle returns to its alter identity, the family car.
Consider this: If you change your business name or phone number, it's often easier to re-letter a magnetic sign than to redo a permanent vehicle graphic. To create the magnetic signs, your plotter-cut or printed vinyl is sized and applied to the magnetic material as usual. Magnetics are a popular and cost-effective way to letter your vehicle, but their impermanence and relatively small size may make them impractical for some business vehicles. A 12" x 24" magnet looks small on the side of a large van, but works great on a car or small pickup.
Why leave your vehicle blank? OK, you don't need to cover it bumper to bumper (although that's called a vehicle wrap and is covered in a future article), but even your company logo and business name make heads turn and advance the visibility of your company. The more times and ways people see your business name, the longer it holds in their memory. When they need the products and services your business provides, who do you think they call?