The Value of Wrap Design

Every good wrap estimate has a line item on it for design. What is your customer buying for this price?  The answer, in most cases, is prospects.

Isn’t this what they are hiring us for, anyway? They want more prospects; they want their phone to ring, or more traffic to their Web site.

They are looking for more people to talk to about their products or services. This is truly what you should be selling your customer through your design services. It takes a special talent to not only deliver a vehicle that looks good, but one that is able to convey a precise message at 45 to 75 mph. Once a designer can prove their skills in this area, that line item can increase in value and the client will be happy to pay for it.

Vehicle wrap designers are professionals, and just like any other professional career with the proper experience, will get treated as such. When you see your doctor or lawyer, do they sit you in a room while they ask you how you think they should handle your medical procedure or lawsuit? Then why should your customer come to you and tell you what their design should look like on their vehicle wrap? You should be guiding them on what works, what doesn’t work, where to place the call to action and how the elements of the wrap should be placed.

A professional wrap designer understands that this will not only give their client a better final product, but will allow them more creative freedom throughout the project. I do not want to give the impression that the customer should have no input on their wrap, because that is far from true. The customer has to drive this vehicle every day, so designing a vehicle that they are proud to jump into is important, but asking them what they want their vehicle to look like and following that direction is a mistake you do not want to keep making.

Understanding your customer is the first step in a good wrap design. Using a form like a creative brief that the client fills out at the beginning of the project is a good start. This creative brief should ask questions about the customer and their business so that you get a better understanding on who they are and what their expectations are. This brief should ask questions about the customer's target market, results they expect, colors they like and details on the items they cannot live without being on the wrap. This form should be filled out before the customer’s initial interview. This allows the designer to get to know the customer and can brainstorm ideas before the customer is interviewed.

When you collect this creative brief, you should also collect any logos, images, etc., that they feel must be on the wrap. Next, a meeting with the customer is important. This meeting is an extension of the creative brief and should allow the designer to get an intimate knowledge of who they are designing for and the target market this message is speaking to. Between the creative brief and client interview, a good designer should have a few ideas for concepts and should be ready to start designing a vehicle wrap that will produce results.

Knowing your vehicle is next, a good place to start is going to the manufacturer’s Web site and having a look at the vehicle that will be your blank canvas. Getting a good look at the curves and obstacles will help with placement of your message and make the design process run a lot smoother. The best way to get to know your canvas is to have the client bring you their vehicle for measurements. Not only will this allow you to double check the measurements of the template you will be using, but it will allow you to see what trim package the vehicle has. There is nothing worse than finding out last minute that the client’s vehicle had an upgraded trim package from the factory that forces you to adjust positioning of text in the eleventh hour.

A common mistake I see in vehicle wraps is a busy design. This most likely is the designer allowing the client to run the design and wanting to put each and every service they perform on the side of the vehicle. Keep it simple, keep it exciting but do not overload the design. Text should be kept to the bare minimum, and should be placed on a relatively solid background and not over an image. This allows the message to be easily read. You should always come up with the information layout before the graphic layout to insure readability. Simplifying the text to the bare minimums or necessities will allow for a clear view of it all. Drilling down the text to the minimums should be simple at this point because you should have covered this in your initial client interview.

Choosing fonts that are readable from a distance is important. You only have a few seconds to capture the attention of the prospect, so finding a readable font is as important as any other aspect of your wrap. Limit your font selection to no more than three. Having a bunch of different font styles will muddy the message and make the wrap look too busy. Spending some time on font color will also insure readability. This may seem obvious, but white text reads best on dark backgrounds, many customers request dark colors on dark backgrounds and they should be directed away from this.

When choosing images, care should be taken so that the images add value to the message without drawing from it. An image can be so over the top that it gets looked at, but the message never gets read. What should happen is the imagery draws attention to the vehicle, and therefore the message gets read. The imagery should complement the text in such a way that when this happens, the consumer is drawn to the call to action. Simple is better when it comes to images. Also, empty space is as important as the areas with text and objects on them.

Do not rely on your client to supply you images. The images supplied by your client likely will not be usable. There are a lot of Web sites that specialize in supplying images for print applications; you will be able to purchase the images for a small fee in various sizes. Choose the size that will allow you the best print output quality. The background of your wrap should be an interesting looking texture or pattern, but again, one that enhances and does not interfere with the message. The background is always best if kept subtle. Come up with ways to use depth of field. Build a foreground and background with logos and information layered in the midground. This is much more pleasant to look at and will help capture the attention of the consumer. In the end, a well designed vehicle wrap is one that delivers results. Taking control of your designs is a big risk because if what you designed does not deliver, the customer will be disappointed. The payoff is when you get good enough to know that what you are creating will increase your clients business and deliver the results they expect. This payoff will come in the form of repeat business and referrals like you have never seen before.