Lets Talk Shop

Let’s Talk Shop Fleet Graphics

The type of customer that uses fleet graphics will vary greatly, covering many different industries. Any time the customer has more than one vehicle that needs graphics, you will need to consider the different factors that go into effective advertising.

By effective, I’m referring to advertising that accomplishes the customer’s goals. To do this, take into consideration both the overall design for consistency, as well as the budget for the project.

While working on a fleet of vehicles for our customer, we’ve incorporated spot graphics, partial wraps and full wraps, using the same design elements for a consistent overall look.


Usually a customer has an idea of how much they can spend either per vehicle or for the lettering of a whole fleet. This information isn’t always shared right away, but is part of the discovery process as you work with the customer to determine their needs.

We have a couple local contractors who have large fleets with many different types of vehicles in the fleet. Some of the vehicles get wraps, while others get simple door graphics.

By keeping the graphics on the fleet of smaller pickups minimal, yet still effective at creating a professional image, the company is able to create larger graphics on certain vehicles. Often these wrapped vehicles will have larger areas for wrapping, are used to highlight certain services or get more exposure due to the route they drive.

Calendered Films

If the advertising is for a shorter promotion then calendared films are another option. I talked with Avery Dennison regarding their product options.

Joel Ross, Senior Marketing Communications Manager at Avery Dennison Graphics Solutions, shared some insight on their calendared options. Ross says, “Calendered films can be ideal for fleets with flat surfaces that may have a shorter lifespan, such as campaign or promotional graphics. Avery Dennison provides one of the industry’s largest selection of calendered films.”


Another film option for fleet graphics is reflective vinyl. Because reflective vinyls are typically more expensive than calendered and cast films, they will also be a budget consideration.

Whether used in conjunction with other films or stand alone as spot graphics, they create effective advertising day and night. I also spoke with Charlie Bond, director of sales for Nippon Carbide Industries (USA) Inc., about their reflective sheeting options.

Bond shared his thoughts on the effectiveness of reflective films in allowing night time advertising as well as creating an extra layer of safety for emergency vehicles. Bond recommends Nikkalite Brand M8500 Series Fleet Marking Grade retroreflective sheeting for fleet graphics.

They have been manufacturing reflective traffic films for more than 30 years. Bond notes that “in the past decade, the Nikkalite Brand has expanded into reflective films for commercial fleet graphics, application on emergency vehicles and for delineation on trailers.”

This film is recommended for use on flat surfaces for the best results, but it is also flexible enough to be used on corrugated surfaces. Resistant to extreme weather conditions, easy to handle and highly reflective, this is a versatile product for many different industries.

Color Change

Ross also shared another growing trend in fleet graphics. “Color change vehicle wraps are becoming more popular with fleet managers because they can protect their investment and maintain the value of the fleet because the original OEM paint has been protected by the wrap. Wraps can be quicker to install and less expensive than new paint work.”

This is an important segment of the market that may be currently overlooked by many wrap installers. Consider talking with the fleet managers about this option for vehicles they may turn back in or sell after just a few years.

Removing the graphics and returning to the original, protected, paint may be a huge selling point. And as Ross points out, “logos or additional graphics can be created as overlays on top of the Supreme Wrapping Film.”

The Supreme Wrapping Film “comes in 51 colors including carbon fiber, gloss and matte finishes and brushed metallic colors.” This film can also be “custom color matched to meet corporate brand standards.”

High quality reflective films, like these from Nippon Carbide Industries, Inc., offer both day and night exposure for extra visibility and nighttime safety. (Photos courtesy of Nippon Carbide Industries Inc.)


One of the most important factors that we consider on our fleet graphics jobs is consistency. A few of our fleet accounts want their graphics to look uniform, down to the inch, when their vehicles are parked side-by-side in their yard.

A few items go into creating this consistency—design, colors and placement. It’s important to the customer that these elements work together to achieve a professional image for the company.

This holds true for fleets that incorporate different types of vehicles as well. The placement may be different and the artwork may be more involved on some vehicles over others, but the overall design and colors should remain uniform.

Design and Color

The design itself may be simply the inclusion of the logo and the use of specific fonts or it may also incorporate other items like photos, a design element or list of information. Some vehicles may include more information than others depending on the vehicle size or estimated impressions based on its travels.

If the company has a fleet of vehicles that they want marked professionally, but are not necessarily looking for advertising impact, then simple door graphics may be enough. That’s not to say that other vehicles in the fleet won’t get a full wrap.

To make these two extremes work within the fleet it’s important to keep the logo, contact information and other important elements consistent. Many larger companies, or even smaller companies with a good grip on branding, have chosen specific Pantone colors to be used on all their advertising.

We recently lettered a fleet of trucks for two different local contractors. Both companies chose Pantone matched vinyl colors, offered by both 3M and Avery, that match their corporate colors, which we special ordered to have in stock.

For both of these companies, as well as other repeat clients, we write the company name on a piece of masking tape and place it inside the core of the vinyl. This helps eliminate any guess work on repeat orders. Putting a small square of the color in the customer’s file is also a good way to double check yourself.


How the graphics are placed on a fleet of vehicles is very important in creating a uniform look from one vehicle to another. Especially when each vehicle is identical.

For one of our clients this is extremely important. When re-lettering their fleet, we had her come out and view all of the graphics taped in place prior to installing them. Once we had her go-ahead, with adjustments made, we then applied the graphics.

To be sure that the established placement remains consistent on the next vehicle, we took the proof of the vehicle and noted exact distances. Logo to door handle, logo to bottom of the door, placement of the phone number, website, license number, truck number, etc.

By noting this information on the photo from the proof, or on a photo taken after installing the first vehicle, you have an accurate visual reference. It’s also easier to draw arrows and note distances on a printout of the actual vehicle.