The design of a vehicle wrap is one of three factors that I believe can make or break a wrap shop. I will list out all three, but I mainly want to discuss the design portion in this article.
In my opinion the design of a vehicle wrap, the quality of the install and the customer service given by the shop are the three most important factors in making and selling wraps successfully. These three items can make or break your wrap.
Some of the other factors are material choice, print quality, price, timing and location. I would say that the first three I listed are probably responsible for 90 percent of the success, while the other factors make up the other 10 percent or so. This article will focus on design, but let’s take a quick look at the other factors before exploring the design process.
- Customer service is one of the leading factors in the three primary make-or-break items. Let's face it—people like to do business with people they like. Providing great customer service and genuinely caring about your clients can get you through all sorts of obstacles and hurdles that would otherwise be deal breakers.
- Quality installs are what I call the "silent salesperson." Or, in case of bad installs, it could be your "silent enemy." We have grown our business to a multi-million dollar wrap shop without doing any outside sales to speak of. The quality of our wraps speak for themselves. A high-quality wrap not only makes your client happy, but often potential customers impressed by your client's wrap will ask where they got their wraps done. On the other hand, a poorly done wrap will have the opposite effect.
You might be asking yourself why I lumped material choice, print quality, price, timing, and location into such a small percentage of the overall success factors. Fair question. Here's is why:
- Material Choice—This is something that is available to everybody, including your competitors. Let's assume you are a serious wrap shop and will consider using the top-of-the-line materials. We use Avery Denison and love it, but I would encourage you to try out different materials to determine which ones work best for you.
- Print quality—Again, this is something that is available to everybody. As a print provider, you choose which quality settings you run your printers on, what type of printers you use and how you calibrate your system to get good color. We use HP Latex printers for a number of reasons, but one of the main ones is the print quality that it produces on our wraps.
- Price—Many people think that price is this huge factor, but ultimately it's not that important. If you are selling wraps mainly on price you are probably not as focused on value. But actually, value is much more important to the client than price—provided you show the client the true value of the wrap and what it will do for their business. Continue this value-driven thought through the design and production of the wrap. Creating a high-value wrap is much more than just selling the client some printed graphics that they asked for on the side of their vehicle. I'll go over this more when I talk about design.
Remember, if someone is willing to have you wrap their vehicle over one of your competitors' shops because you are offering them $100 less per vehicle, don't be surprised later when that same client sells you out and goes with the next guy because he offers wraps at $50 less than you. The price game is a race to the bottom, and you just become a number at that point.
- Location—your location probably affects your success a whole lot less than you think it does. Since you're in the vehicle wrap business you should be driving a wrapped vehicle, which puts you everywhere. You will need a good website that can drive the traffic into real quote requests. This makes the physical location of where the work is going to be done less important.
Importance of Good Design
Okay, so let's get back to design. What is so important about good design? A good design will help your customers grow their business, which in turn will help you grow yours.
As author and motivational speaker Zig Zigglar always says, “You can have everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.” This is so true, if you focus all of your energy on making sure that each and every wrap you do does the most it can for your client, then their business will grow. And this will help your business grow through referrals and repeat business.
What is it that makes a vehicle wrap design great? I like to follow a few simple rules. First and foremost the design should have a purpose. This means that you will need to know what exactly it is that the client is trying to get this vehicle wrap to do for them. You need to ask the right questions to get the client to answer this, because the client may not have actually thought realistically about this. So, instead of just asking them what they want the vehicle wrap to do for them—most people simply say, "I want to grow my business." You can help them narrow it down and winnow out the true purpose.
What's the Goal?
You're going to need to know what the client (and you) are trying to achieve with this vehicle wrap. Once you know the goal, you can design backward, always keeping that goal in mind so as to make the most effective wrap.
- Branding—Is this vehicle wrap strictly for branding, such as a Redbull wrap or Coke wrap would be? If you notice, on those designs you will see no contact information because it is strictly for branding. Typically there is no call to action with a wrap aimed at branding alone.
- Special Event—Is the wrap intended to help promote a special event or other time-sensitive promotion? Knowing this will help you determine what the call to action is on the wrap. The call to action would be drastically different for a wrap that promotes a circus coming to town versus one promoting a company or service that is always offered. If it is for a specific event, you want to make sure that the design is clear about the dates and location as well as how to get the tickets, etc.
- Product or Service—If you're promoting a company and a specific product or service, you will need to design it in a different way than you would for a branding or special event wrap. In this case the call to action may be to pick up the phone to learn more about the product or service.
Once you know the purpose of the wrap, you can develop a plan for an effective design. Creating a great design is much like a chef cooking a great meal. The elements you put into a design are like the ingredients in a recipe. Having said that, even though some ingredients, like salt in a recipe, may not make up the largest portions of the recipe, they definitely can make or break the wrap's effectiveness.
Target the Audience
Now that you know the purpose of the wrap, you need to find out who the target audience is for the client. Who is the client trying to reach?
If you design the wrap to look like a hard-hitting action-packed motocross racing scene, but the product being promoted is aimed at women in the 40-60 age bracket, you will have lost the game.
Likewise, if you are trying to promote an exciting new energy drink or local nightclub, you won't want the design to look like it is promoting a symphonic orchestra. Knowing your target audience will help guide your design.
Establishing the Theme
Planning out the wrap starts by establishing the theme, or overall look of the wrap. Remember that a vehicle wrap is usually only viewed for a few seconds and usually when it's moving. It's a good idea to firmly plant this reality into your client's mind when it comes to the number of elements they might want to place in the wrap.
The vehicle wrap design can accomplish three things:
- Attract attention—A bright color, a cool photo, or some sort of interesting graphic can easily do this.
- Identify a Service or Product—This aspect also includes identifying an event being promoted. This can sometimes be achieved just by the photo or graphic used in the design.
- Identify the Client—and show how to get ahold of them. Sometimes this can be done with the same design element. Such as a logo that has the website domain name incorporated into the design. Aside from that, the wrap should not have much more text on it.
Keep it Simple
The important thing to remember is that these vehicles will most likely be viewed while moving and only for a few seconds. This will require you to not only keep the design simple, but also to simplify the information you put on the vehicle.
If a customer brings you a tri-fold brochure and starts pointing out things on the brochure that they want on their wrap, you will need to explain to them about the effectiveness of the vehicle wrap and that each item that they add to the wrap essentially knocks down the effectiveness of the wrap a little bit.
I always explain to clients that even though their van is 18' long, and their brochure is 8” x 10”, you cannot put the same information on the van because in perspective of being seen amidst moving traffic, the wrap is as small as a business card.
Take out a business card out and hold it at arm’s length for your client. Have them look out to the nearest road as the vehicles go by and have them compare how big the card looks at arm’s length. They will see that the van in this context is actually the size of a business card when it is viewed on the road where the potential customers will see it.
Keep it Consistent and Readable
Once you and your client have chosen the background, you then need to lay out the logo and contact information. Keep in mind that it needs to be somewhat consistent with the client's other branding, like their website and social media graphics. This way when someone looks them up, they will connect the two and know that they found the right place.
All text must be easy to read at a distance. Keep all the text in high contrast to the background and make sure that if you put an outline or effect on the text, that it is closer to the background color than the text color. I see a lot of wraps that are very nice, but miss the mark on this part because they design something that looks nice on a computer screen but not good on the vehicle.
A good rule of thumb when designing is to take the design proof and temporarily convert it to black and white. This will show you if your contrasts are right. Also print the wrap out around 6” wide and stand across the room from it and see if it still gets the message across.
Once you have done these things, you're ready to print it and install it. If you are always trying to do what you can to promote the client's business and provide them with the best service a quality product and great value, you will be just fine.