74: Street Cred for Your Brand
In the last year, since wrapping my MINI in vinyl advertising, I’ve fielded a bevy of questions about the wrap and the company it advertises. The car has been featured on an internationally-followed podcast and in the leading trade magazine for the auction industry. In short, my investment has returned more exposure and publicity than I had anticipated. What started as a flamboyant tax deduction has grown into a key marketing tool for my business.
If you’re looking to turn heads with your company vehicle or turn your personal ride into a company billboard, here are some recommendations for getting the most out of your investment.
Google Search “Vehicle Wrap”
Before you start to generate ideas, discover what’s already out there. See what can be done—the possibilities and the limitations. And ask yourself what you like and why you like them. You’ll find common denominators that you can replicate for your design. I also recommend right-clicking those images and saving them into a folder to show your wrap designer. Make sure to also Google search the model of your vehicle and “wrap” to get an idea of the special considerations for which you’ll need to account on your vehicle.
Hire a Professional Wrap Designer
A wrap is a totally different bird to design than an ad, brochure, Web site, or logo. Moving from two to three dimensions is just the start. The nuances of the substrate, the curves of your vehicle, the mobile nature of the medium, and the installation process all but require someone with experience in wrap design. (I’m grateful my uncle’s wrap shop design team was present and patient to educate and help me.)
Wrap design firms like Cranky Creative and VSP Graphics can build you eye-popping composites on pictures of your vehicle to help you visualize the finished product and tweak it. With certified national installer networks, you can have national talent do the creative and have their work installed locally or at least regionally.
If you have an in-house designer and don’t mind them learning on your dime, most wrap companies can provide you with templates for your vehicle on which Illustrator or Photoshop designs can be overlaid. Design is done at full scale; so, the file sizes are quite large. Stock photos will be more expensive, as you’ll need the highest resolution version of each image. A consultant from a wrap company will save you headaches and money.
With the top three car colors in the States being white, then black, then silver, it doesn’t take much to stand apart from traffic. If they match the rest of your branding, use bright colors and captivating photos. Regardless of design, you want your company logo and contact information to significantly contrast the background.
Keep It Simple
Vehicle wraps make great portable billboards, but don’t forget they’ll often be viewed as they are moving. Because of this, readability is a key design element. You need the message to be easily absorbed from various distances. Thus, the design shouldn’t be busy or crowded. Unless you have a van or tall SUV, you’ll want to avoid most text beyond your slogan and contact information. I highly recommend only one URL and only one phone number with very few exceptions.
[In my situation (with a statewide non-compete agreement), I’m not looking to generate local business from my wrap. So, my wrap’s design is intentionally more ambiguous than what I’d recommend to small businesses.]
Remember That ROI is Measured in Years
Some companies change their wraps frequently to promote different marketing campaigns, but most wraps typically live three to five years on their respective vehicles. When you take the number of daily impressions multiplied by 1,000 or 1,500+ days, your cost per impression is ridiculously low. That said, your wrap should pay for itself; so, add “vehicle wrap/advertising” to your list of media in your “How did you hear about us?” tracking.
I also recommend covering the entire car with the wrap material—even if in a plain color, so that your paint doesn’t fade unevenly. Wraps protect the surface underneath them, which helps your resale value. Talk to your insurance agent about insuring the wrap, in the event of an accident.
If you use multiple vehicles for work or otherwise, don’t forget they can all be brand extenders. You can wrap auction toppers, boats, and recreational vehicles. Don’t forget walls, elevator doors (like this one I saw in a mall), and appliances.
Wrapping your vehicle is a good next step in your marketing plan, but amateur design can advertise your lack of professionalism. Your vehicle can take your message places it never would go otherwise; make sure it’s taking the most effective, attractive message.
I’ve never been one for bumper stickers. I don’t like tailgaters, and I doubt many people have ever changed their mind based on a pithy bumper or metal fish outline. To be honest, I’m probably as least like Jesus behind the wheel than any other place; so, I don’t want to drag his cause through my accidental or intentional driving missteps.
A kind mentor of mine in high school and college got me a “Jesus is my copilot” license plate frame. I never put it on my vehicle for the reasons just mentioned. Too often, I don’t want Jesus as my wingman—sad as that is to admit. Sometimes, I prefer to do things he’s asked me not to do or that I don’t think he’d approve. That’s sinning against our relationship, even if there’s not a Bible verse to demarcate the line of infringement. And I need to remember he’s there, whether I’m comfortable with him joining me or not.
Even better would be for me to let him drive, since that’s his rightful place. My buddy, Will, says we often want a backpack Jesus—a God to take with us, a supernatural rabbit’s foot or genie lamp. But to reach our fullest eternal potential as determined by a sovereign Designer, we’ve got too ride shot gun.