In his third year of business, David Simons continues to focus on different ways to market his new mosquito control company. So far, he has redesigned the website, created yard signs, and advertised in the local weekly newspaper.
But the company’s vehicle wrap has helped gain even more exposure by catching people’s attention while driving on the road.
“Our Ford Transit Connect’s wrap is great,” says Simons, owner of Mosquitoes B-Gone, which serves Hamilton County in Central Indiana. “We drive the van around even during non-business hours. It’s helping get the word out about our brand.”
According to Geopath, a provider of ratings for out-of-home advertising, one in four adults in the U.S. say they have noticed a mobile billboard on a truck or a van in the last 30 days.
Geopath uses GPS technology to calculate the number of impressions and the composition of the individuals that are exposed to all the ads on the roadway where they travel. A bus billboard can see as many as 25,000 impressions per day, according to Geopath data.
“Vehicle billboards are a fantastic medium for advertisement because they are so flexible,” says Kym Frank, president of Geopath. “Vehicle billboards can reach people while on the road for business or parked. It’s a great way to reach people while they are out on the go.”
A vehicle billboard can be depicted as a customizable wrap that’s installed on a vehicle. The vinyl wrap contains colors, images, or designs with a company’s branding and logo.
“A company wants its vehicle wrap to grab people’s attention without going overboard,” says Deborah Scott, president of Riveting Wraps, a designer and installer of commercial vehicle wraps. “We work with clients to help them understand that there’s only so much you can communicate on your vehicle. You really only have 4 to 6 seconds to grab someone’s attention.”
Scott discourages fleets from listing all of their services and information on their vehicles. “People aren’t interested in reading a lot of information on a vehicle,” she says. “Even if they did read it, they probably won’t remember all of it.”
If you want someone to pay attention to your vehicle advertisement, Scott recommends giving “eye candy” or something visually enticing.
When Owen Faulkner started thinking about creating his own heating and cooling company, he wanted vehicle graphics that stood out from his many local competitors.
“I wanted something different; a lot of the competitors go with red, white, and blue logos,” says Faulkner, owner of Town & Country Heating and Cooling Co. in Kansas City. “I wanted to have fun with it and create a design that would stick in people’s heads when they saw our vehicles driving around.”
Town & Country’s wrapped Ford E-150, Ford Transit KUV, and GMC vans average about 40,000 miles per year within a 30-mile radius.
Inspired by some old furnace logos he found from the 1940s and 1950s, Faulkner said he liked the idea of creating a logo that looked like his company had been around for a long time. Designed by Graphic D-Signs, Faulkner’s “old-time” vehicle wrap catches eyes with its bright green, red, yellow, and brown color scheme.
“People take photos of our vehicles and give us the ‘thumbs-up’ at stoplights,” says Faulkner. “You couldn’t ask for better coverage.”
Being on the road means that your branded vehicle is gaining new impressions every day.
According to a study by 3M, a manufacturer of vinyl graphic products, fleet graphics generated an average of 6 million prime daily effective circulation (DEC) per truck, annualized.
The study measured the effectiveness of fleet graphics for Cadbury-Schweppes Co. using GPS units to track 10 Snapple trucks.
In addition to grabbing attention, vehicle graphics should be designed to remain in a person’s memory.
“Most people who look at your vehicle won’t have a need for your services at that moment, but at some point they might need your services,” says Scott. “Ideally, you want them to recall your brand at that point.”
“We had zero customers when we launched,” says Faulkner. “Having the vehicle wraps has helped promote and drive new customers.”
Compared to other advertising mediums, a vehicle wrap is considered a cost-effective marketing tool.
According to a 2008 study by 3M, fleet graphics have the lowest average cost-per-thousand impressions (48 cents) and cost of equivalent daily effective circulation ($30,000). In addition to fleet graphics, this three-month study in San Francisco looked at six other different advertising mediums: television, magazine, newspaper, prime-time television, radio, and outdoor.
When looking at the cost-per-thousand impressions, television had the highest at $23.70, followed by magazine ($21.46), newspaper ($19.70), prime-time television ($18.15), radio ($7.75), and outdoor ($3.56), according to the study.
“There is nothing comparable in terms of affordability,” says Scott. “You are paying to wrap your vehicle once and it could be on there for seven years.”
On average, vehicle wraps usually have a lifespan of four or five years but can last up to 10 years, according to Scott.
For Craig Bartschi at Idaho Springs Water, the high upfront cost of the truck wrap is more than worth the investment.
“The truck wraps have been the best advertising we have ever had,” says Bartschi. “In addition to our website, the rest of our leads come from the trucks. I pulled my Yellow Page ads about seven years ago; I currently only advertise on my trucks and website.”
Additionally, unlike billboards, radio airtime, and print and online media, there is no need to pay a third party for advertising space that is already available on the vehicle for free, says Scott.
“It’s hard to get eyeballs on ads now,” says Scott. “Consumers can block ads online, listen to music without radio commercials, and watch Netflix with no TV ads. But on the road, people can’t really look away if your wrapped vehicle is front of them.”
JMR Graphics recommends that fleets use full color graphics and other colorful eye-catching photos.
“We encourage our customers to think big and vibrant in order to get the message out to the masses,” says Chris D’Angelo, vice president of sales at JMR Graphics.
Mosquitoes B-Gone’s van went from solid white to a bright and bold wrap featuring different shades of green. The wrap also features mosquito graphics and the company logo.
“You want a wrap that’s bright and loud,” says Chad Huff, owner of CSI Signs, which designed Simons’ mosquito vehicle wrap. “Because a vehicle is always moving, people need to be able to read the wrap far away and fast.”
New Jersey-based Bug Doctor Termite & Pest Control decided to experiment with a vehicle wrap on its Animal Doctor service truck.
Working with a vehicle wrap company, Stuart Aust, owner and president of Bug Doctor, wanted the wrap to include more color as well as animals in large print and paw prints. The wrap added a bright green color to the truck. All the other fleet vehicles — including the former Animal Doctor truck — are white with company logos.
So far, the new vehicle wrap has gained a lot of attention on the road. “Our truck is a billboard on wheels,” says Aust. “Omar, our Animal Doctor technician, says that people are constantly waving and taking pictures of the truck while he is on the road.”
A wrap isn’t the only method for branding a vehicle. A less expensive option is adding vinyl decals — without needing a full vehicle wrap.
When Connecticut-based Canine Company embarked on rebranding its company image, it wanted to add its rebranding to the fleet vehicles. But the company didn’t want a full vehicle wrap.
Gregg Watson, creative director for Canine Company, designed the company’s logos in house. The company then turned to Signazon, an online digital printing and custom design company, to produce the logos as vehicle graphics.
Signazon produces full vehicle wraps as well as vinyl decals, which “gives [companies] the ability to still have that pop and punch in their vehicle branding while saving about 80% on overall cost,” says Joel Johnson, vice president of marketing for Signazon.
Watson worked with Signazon to determine the layout on the vehicle and did a couple of tests before ordering decals for the fleet. The decals were cut to fit moldings and even gas caps, and they run from solid panels across windows using perforated window film that allows visibility from the inside.
“It was a challenge to create decals for the vehicles with all the moldings and different specs,” says Watson.
How to Find Reputable Installers
Where can fleets look for a certified company to install vehicle graphics?
The Specialty Graphic Imaging Association (SGIA) provides access to reputable vehicle wrap installers through the Professional Decal Application Alliance (PDAA) certification. According to Sarah Perkins, SGIA’s community development manager, this certification verifies an installer’s ability at either the basic or master level.
Master certified installers have passed PDAA’s master proficiency certification tests, demonstrating proficiency in vinyl installations, including complex curves and vehicle wraps, according to Perkins.
Basic certified installers have passed PDAA’s basic proficiency certification tests, which validate proficiency in flat and simple curve installations such as signage, wall murals, and trailers with rivets.
“A lot of people think that wrapping is a simple task, but it’s not,” says Perkins. “It’s a skill that has to be developed over time. We suggest you seek out a PDAA master certified installer; someone who has experience in the field and the credential to prove it.”
To find a PDAA master certified installer, a fleet can search the SGIA website’s database (www.sgia.org). The online database features a search capability that includes a bid creator to narrow the search. Fleets can also search by location, the type of wrap needed, and materials to be used.
Additionally, Perkins recommends making sure that the installer has insurance.
Questions to Ask
Once a fleet finds a certified graphic company to design and install its vehicle wrap, what questions should be asked before signing a contract?
Brandon Park, owner of LA Wraps in Torrance, Calif., recommends that fleets first ask if the company uses a reputable vinyl material like 3M.
“We get calls to fix fleet vehicle wraps,” says Park. “Some companies will quote a low price for a wrap, but the quality isn’t as good. The wrap will fail prematurely.”
Scott suggests asking if the company laminates its graphics. Laminates can protect printed graphics from UV fading and abrasion. Find out if the company offers a warranty on the vehicle wrap. Riveting Graphics honors 3M’s multi-year materials warranty and adds its own additional one-year installation warranty on all of its wraps, says Scott.
Ask how long the vehicles will be out of service for installation.
“We work with our clients to minimize the time their vehicles are out of service,” says D’Angelo. “For a typical wrap installation, a vehicle is typically out of service for one day.”
Design and Installation Process
Vehicle wrap designers and installers like Riveting Wraps work with a variety of clients. Some fleets already have a design and need it printed and installed, while other fleets need help with the development of the design.
When Simons started working with CSI Signs, he knew that he wanted a photo of a mosquito as part of the vehicle wrap. He found a close-up photo where the hairs on its legs were even visible.
“We recommend that people bring in photos of what they want on their vehicle wrap,” says Huff. “Simons’ photo gave the designers an idea of the type of mosquito he wanted on the van.”
Instead of using a pre-built online car template, designers will take photos of all sides of the vehicle and build a template using the customer’s car, according to Huff.
Once the vehicle measurements are taken, CSI Signs starts working on the wrap’s design. Then the graphics are printed. For Simons’ van, it took four to five hours to print the graphics and add a laminate that helps protect the wrap from UV rays, according to Huff.
The next step is the installation process, which includes cleaning the vehicle, smoothing out the vinyl wrap, and trimming door handles and seams so the doors can open. “It takes about eight hours for two installers to work on a van,” Huff says.