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The Basics of Advertising with Vehicle Graphics

The first thing you need to know about vehicle graphics when deciding if they are a tool you want to add to your advertising arsenal, is that vehicle graphics are one of the most effective forms of advertising in the market today. A single vehicle with a good graphic or wrap will get anywhere from 30,000 to 80,000 views per DAY according to the Outdoor Advertising Association of America (OAAA)! In an extremely competitive advertising market, this is a simple, cost-effective method to get a consumer’s attention in a very big way. And at Paramount Signs, we’re into “big”.

Although commercial vehicle graphics  may have seemed “weird” several years ago, more and more are cropping up on vehicles all over the country, and for good reason. These eye-catching, moving billboards get people’s attention, and that is the goal in advertising. Vehicle graphics claim the lowest cost per impression rate of any other form of advertising at a cost of less than $44 per million impressions. This means they are a great way for small businesses to affordably compete with other competitors 10 times their size.  Vehicle wraps are a tool that can essentially level the advertising playing field for the small business owner.

One great thing vehicle wraps have going for them is their sheer, “in your face” staying power. You can’t change the channel and stop seeing the car wrap ad in the lane next to you as you drive down the road or sit in the traffic jam; you have to make a concerted effort NOT to look to avoid seeing the ad. This “commercial” is “on the air” 24/7. Even if it’s not moving down the road, a car wrap is still doing its job when the vehicle is parked.

Although ideally suited for the single company vehicle a small-to-medium sized business might own, vehicle graphics have been  increasingly used on fleet vehicles as well.  Wrapping a fleet of vehicles in a brand message is extremely effective when it comes to a new product launch or advertising an event. Rather than a static sign or billboard that can only be in one place at a time, a fleet of vehicles moving through traffic can broadcast your message all over town in a single day. Now that’s a big impact, for very few of your advertising dollars.

A look at Statistics: Why Advertising with Vehicle Graphics is Worth every Dollar

Here are some vital statistics from the OAAA you need to know when it comes to vehicle graphics.

  • Mobile advertising is the most effective and efficient form of outdoor advertising, reaching more consumers at a lower Cost Per Thousand Impressions (CPM) than any other form of outdoor advertising.
  • 98% of Americans indicated they notice media targeting vehicle drivers and passengers.
  • 29% said outdoor advertising caused them to visit a retail store within a week of seeing the ad.
  • The average American has traveled 302 miles in the past 7 days.
  • 96% of Americans traveled in a vehicle as either a driver or passenger in the past week.
  • The average vehicle driven 15,000 miles per year will pass in front of 9 million other vehicles.
  • 30% of mobile outdoor viewers base their buying decisions on ads they see.
  • One vehicle wrap can generate between 30,000 – 80,000 impressions daily.
  • Fleet vehicle advertising boosts name recognition 15x greater than other advertising media.
  • Mobile advertising reaches consumers not exposed to newspaper, radio and television.
  • Federal Highway Administration study forecasts a sharp increase in the amount of time spent in personal vehicles and the number of trips per household.

Common Questions about Vehicle Wraps

1. What options For Vehicle Graphics and Wraps are There?

Vehicle Decals

Many times a company logo and contact information is a good start for a company to start a campaign on a budget. Because the graphic can be removed, the customer can start their campaign on a budget and later move into the higher visibility of a partial or full wrap.

Partial Wraps

Partial wraps usually cover 1/3 to 1/2 of the vehicle with an attention grabbing graphic creating higher visibility. This type of graphic is suitable for many different types of vehicles from sedans to vans.

Full Wraps

Full wraps will grab the most attention as well as create a higher retention of the image. It provides a larger canvas to communicate a larger The larger the image the easier it is for potential customer to see who you are, what you can do for them and how to contact your business

2. What Car Condition Is Required?

Don’t expect the wrap to serve as a cover-up for an old or bad paint job. Although you won’t see it when the car is wrapped, the paint has to be in good condition or the wrap will be a mess.

If the vehicle has scratches and door dings, they’ll stick out “like a sore thumb”. Imperfections under the wrap will always show up on the surface. If the old paint has started to flake, the vinyl will lift with the lifting paint.  Also if there is corrosion/rust on the body, the vinyl will lift as the surface continues to corrode.  It is always recommended  to get any scratches, dents or corrosion fixed before wrapping the vehicle.

3. What is the process to getting you the right graphic for your goals and budget?

High quality car wraps require experience and knowledge in many different fields that include:

  • Design
  • Material
  • Production
  • Preparation
  • Facility
  • Installation
  • Post Installation

The 7 Steps to a Successful Vehicle Wrap

Let’s take a look at each of these categories:

1. Design

In order to properly design a graphic/wrap that meets your needs you should consult with designers at a local sign company to discuss what you are trying to achieve and what budget you have to work with.  There are many ways to portray your message as well as many types of materials to use in order to meet your goals.

The design process can be fairly straight forward for the customer but very complex for the designer.

The surface of a car can be very complex with compound curves, objects like door handles, windows and gaps that can interfere with the image. The designer must have extensive experience and the right tools such as the latest vehicle templates to create a car wrap design that will fit a specific vehicle properly without having the image or the message distorted or sliced into pieces.

Every angle, space, curve of the vehicle must be taken into consideration when designing a wrap. Ignoring these elements will result in a car wrap design that is not easy on the eyes nor easy to read and understand. It will also have a negative effect on your company image.

2. Material

There are many high and low quality vinyl manufacturers out there. Top brand names that have been around for years and offer the best car wrap vinyls include: 3MAveryOracal and Arlon.

Just like everything else, with car wraps you truly get what you pay for. If you care about quality and longivity of the wrap then you want to make sure that wrap shop is using a high quality vinyl.

You also need to keep in mind that simply stating that a 3M vinyl is being used it doesn’t mean that particular vinyl is the right choice for your project. 3M and all other manufactures offer many different types of vinyl from high-quality, high-cost Cast Vinyl to lower performance, cheaper Calendared Vinyl.

However, if you are driving a short term advertising campaign, the less expensive material may be the best option from a cost standpoint. If the surfaces have simple curves and the plan is to remove the graphic after a relatively short campaign, this also may be a good option.

So as you can see materials play a very important role in a vehicle wrap, you can have the best design and the best installer but with the wrong material your wrap may not perform as you like or you may be paying too much for a short term campaign.

3. Production

Let’s say you have the perfect design and have chosen the best suited material for the job, now is time to print your design on the vinyl. Unfortunately using a wide format digital printer is not as simple as using a HP or Brother printer that we all use at home or office. There is a lot more involved in order to create a sharp and vibrant image when printing a vehicle wrap.


Each vinyl manufacturer’s materials receive ink differently.  It is important that your shop calibrates their particular printer to each material in order to maximize durability and color vibrancy. Essentially creating a material print profile for each particular material they print on that specific printer.

Many shops selling wraps don’t even print or install the vinyl themselves therefore have no control over the printing or laminating process.  Also many  shops don’t go through the material calibration with their printer and use a generic profile for all media. This results in dull, over or under saturated images that just don’t look right.

4. Preparation

Let’s take this a step further, you have the perfect car wrap design, the best material and a great print. Now it’s time to get your vehicle readied for the installation.

One of the most important part of the wrap process that affects longevity is the prep process. This is where the installer has to go over every inch of your car’s surface as well as under the weather trims, cracks, fenders to make sure they’re 100% clean & wax free.

The car must be washed the day before and has to be dry. A degreasing solution is used to wipe the car down completely to make sure any wax residue has been removed. Then again, using alcohol the car has to be wiped down to make sure the solution that was used to remove the wax has been removed (otherwise it will affect the adhesive of the vinyl).

The smallest dirt left behind could result in the vinyl’s adhesive to fail and after a short time, lift off the surface. A small lift will allow water to get under the wrap and eventually cause the entire wrap to fail.

This part of the process is probably the least favorite part of the job for an installer and therefore the shop may cut corners resulting in an early failure.

5. Facility

You’ve come a long-way now, you have your perfect design, the perfect material, a great print and your vehicle has been perfectly prepped… now you need a Car Wrap Facility.

chstr cty fb van

The question now is where will the actual installation take place? Indoor or Outdoors? Will the indoor facility be dust free and have the right temperature required by the vinyl manufacturer during installation?

If your wrap is being installed outdoor, well then you’re off to a terrible start. There is absolutely no way to avoid large and small dust particles away from the surface of your car. The results can be noticed right away because even the smallest dust particle will show through the wrap and having thousands of them under your wrap will look like a layer of sand was put down before the wrapping of the car.

This not only looks terrible but large enough particles could cause holes and rips in the wrap and allow water to leak under causing the wrap to fail.

A clean indoor temperature controlled installation space is extremely important to make sure the final outcome of the wrap is as good as it can be.

6. Installation

This is the last but not the least important step of a car wrap.

It is a very labor intensive and delicate process. The installer must have a good feel for each type of vinyl they work with as well as tremendous amounts of patience.

Different materials behave differently and therefore the installer must have extensive experience with various media. The right heat applied, pressure/tension and proper tool usage is Paramount to a great installation.  Although the actual installation of the wrap is very difficult,  the final trimming of the wrap can be even more challenging.

You can have the perfectly installed wrap but if the excess material is not trimmed and tucked properly the final appearance may not be the best and it can effect durability.

Trimming the wrap requires a steady hand, a lot of patience and technique. This is what sets an excellent installer apart from a good installer. Making the wrap to look like a paint job is what its all about.

7. Post Installation

Now you might think well we’re done, the wrap has been installed and trimmed perfectly.  We aren’t done yet.

This is the step that is most overlooked by installers because it is the most time consuming and most boring part of the install.

The installer, now using a Heat-Gun (not a torch), must go over the areas of the wrap that is on a recessed or curved area, using digital thermometer to ensure every inch of these areas reaches a certain degree as required by the manufacturer. The reason for this is because all wrap vinyl has PVC as part of their ingredients. PVC allows the vinyl to have a memory, so when is overstretched and heated it will go back to its original shape.

That is a great feature, however once the wrap is installed you do not want the vinyl to go back to its original shape, this means it will shrink and pull back.

The only way to over-ride the PVC memory is to make sure the areas that are stretched or under pressure reach that specific temperature. This will ensure the vinyl will hold its shape.

Paramount Signs takes great care to insure a quality product that will last for many years.  We are serious about managing our process which is why we are a 3M MCS certified shop.  This allows us to provide the 3M backed warranties on their materials.

Do you have a vehicle that is not producing for you?   Contact us at Paramount Signs to see how we can help you maximize your mobile assets.

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