Nighthawk1

Husky Signs Lights the Lamp

Paula Aven Gladych is a freelance writer based in Denver, Colo. She can be reached at pgladych@gmail.com.

Husky Signs & Graphics, Inc. in Boulder, Colorado, recently wrapped a delivery van for Nighthawk Brewery, Inc. in 3M’s new reflective 780 series wrappable reflective material.

The company worked with Ethan Hall, owner of the brewery, to design the wrap and then execute it.

Nighthawk presented Husky Signs with a general concept for the van wrap and Husky did the graphic design in-house and presented Nighthawk with a suggestion based off Nighthawk’s concept.

“We were extremely impressed with the insight they gave us,” Hall says. “We had an accomplished designer and a ‘totally finished’ design, we thought, but the suggestions that their designer and staff gave us were extremely impressive.”

“We ran with the concept and came up with the idea of utilizing reflective material,” says Mark Johnson, chief shop dog at Husky Signs & Graphics. “Part of their logo is an old street gas lamp so we knew there would be nighttime exposure. So when headlights drive by the van, they will key in on the reflective elements of the van. It adds depth or dimension to the graphic.”

“We had high expectations – too high, we thought – and we were completely blown away by the scope and aspirations that Mark and his crew came to the table with,” Hall says.

The brewery is also partnering with social media and meal vendors, so Husky Signs built in some advertising space on the van.

“Ultimately designing it was very simple. We went through two revisions and pretty much nailed it out of the gate with some small changes on the back end,” Johnson says.

Two things differentiate 3M’s new 780 reflective material from its 5100 and 680 series of reflective vinyl. With the older reflective materials, “you pretty much had to be directly in front of the reflectivity to see the benefit of the reflectivity,” says Johnson. “With the new 780 series, you can step to the left and right, quite a bit away and look at the reflective material at several angles and still see and appreciate the reflectivity of it.”

The other great attribute of it is that it is wrappable.

“You can wrap over compound and concave shapes. Unlike other reflective materials which were relegated to flat or very minor curved areas, this new material is truly conformable and wrappable to compound curves,” he says. It also will “heal the bruising” that used to occur if someone attempted to reposition the reflective material.

Repositioning can damage the crystals in the reflective layer to a point where they will no longer reflect, he says. With this new vinyl, if you end up with a bruise, you can heat out the bruising.

“You can heal the reflective elements to bring it back to its original shape. It makes the bruising element disappear,” Johnson says. “It’s a lot more forgiving during the installation process.”

To wrap the brewery’s van, Husky Signs used multiple layers. The base layer was 3M 480 LX, which was produced on a latex printer.

“The 480 series is again the improved generation of media that has up to 50 percent stretch so that we can force that media into deeper channels with less failures; whereas in the old days vinyl would exercise memory,” he adds.

The lamp and the logo were done in reflective “to get that really neat reflective look to the van. It’s pretty impressive for sure,” Johnson says.

The new 3M materials were very pleasing to work with, he adds, and didn’t pose any problems whatsoever.

“Nighthawk was blown away. They were super thrilled with the effort. They definitely indicated that the response from the community and their customer base is overwhelmingly positive. It sets them apart from the multitude of other microbrews in the area,” he says.

The van is used to deliver food and to do community events during the day where the brewery shows up and allows potential clients to do a taste testing of their beers.

“Words cannot describe how amazing it looks. Simply cannot,” Hall says. “I’ve personally been told by other breweries that they’re jealous of our wrap, and we consistently hear from people that they ‘see the van everywhere!’ It’s so distinctive and noticeable in such a positive manner!”

“I’m a firm believer that when it comes to signage and vehicle branding, there is definitely a measurable return on investment, Johnson adds. “When you go to the next level and start utilizing reflective applications you have increased your ROI exponentially. It is a game changer when it comes to these vehicles and the number of miles they rack up in day and nighttime use. The impression is pretty incredible.”

Because the 3M materials are wrappable, Husky Signs was able to start the mark of the brand and the lantern on the driver’s side of the vehicle and then wrap the reflective vinyl to the back of the van.

“One continuous lantern image transitions from the side to the rear of the van. That would not be possible with the other 3M reflective medias,” he says.

Husky Signs is a 3M-certified installation company through the United Application Standards Group. It is also a full-service sign company, doing everything from vehicle wraps and wall murals to storefront window branding, interior architectural signage and dimensional signage.

“Coordination of everything was like clockwork – once the art was finished, things moved along very quickly & smoothly. Couldn’t have asked for a better process,” Hall says.