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How To Make Your Brand Turn Heads on The Road

The “secrets” to designing wow-worthy vehicle wraps aren’t really “secrets” anymore. At KickCharge, we’re not afraid to share the keys to success with anyone who will listen. Why, then, are there STILL so many ho-hum designs on the road? The answer is: There shouldn’t be because it’s not that difficult to create a simple, easy-to-read message once you understand fundamental vehicle branding tips.

So many wrap designs lack proper branding and easy-to-read messaging—what a wasted opportunity for the businesses using them! This often happens due to a lack of education and understanding about the actual medium. In the past, the prerequisites for billboard painters and truck lettering artists were years of study and apprenticeships. Trying your hand at the craft is a bit easier today, since the primary barrier to entry is acquiring the cash to buy a large format digital printer. This means that while a sign or wrap company may be brilliant at installing wraps, it may lack experience in the study of successful outdoor advertising.

The following rules can help you better understand the fundamentals for designing an effective vehicle wrap. Whether you are a designer hoping to improve your layouts or a small business owner trying to gain market share, these fleet branding ideas will help you get the maximum impact and return on investment for your outdoor vehicle advertising programs.

Rule #1: Start With A Great Brand

Truck wrap design for Honey Dudes Handyman.
New brand development and vehicle wrap design for Honey Dudes in Lorain, Ohio.

One reason so many wraps fail is because the business has a poor brand identity and logo. The brand should always be the primary message for a vehicle wrap, unless you have national brand recognition. For small businesses trying to make an impact in their communities, the message is always about the brand. Starting with a poor brand means you’ve failed before you’ve begun—by wasting money on a wrap and missing a huge marketing opportunity.

KickCharge Creative generally designs wraps only for clients whose brands we’ve created because most companies’ existing brands are terrible. What is surprising is that we are usually the first ones to tell them. Perhaps other sign companies never mention brand problems because they don’t want to lose the wrap job. Not KickCharge. If a company won’t change its poor brand, we won’t design its wrap. Clients typically appreciate our honesty because we only have their best interests in mind. We don’t want to be responsible for wasting your money trying to work with a brand that has no business being on a wrap. The brand is the message. Period.

Before Honey Dudes came to us, their brand was not reaching its full potential. While customers liked the existing mascot, there was more to be desired from the name (MDG Maintenance) and the overall brand promise. After creating a clever name and eye-catching logo that matched the new identity perfectly, their new vehicles are impossible to ignore.

Rule #2: Don’t Use Photos

Van wraps that use photos are rarely effective. Plus, I’d argue that any wrap that uses a photo could have been designed more effectively without one. A photo is not a brand identity; it doesn’t connect the audience with the business name. Maybe it tells the viewer what the company does, but so should a good brand.

Take the common example of an HVAC contractor with a picture of an air conditioner on its truck. Great. Now I know you do air conditioning, but I don’t know who you are—because I only have 2.5 seconds to view the message.

Or consider the contractor using a picture of a house. It doesn’t communicate whether you are a siding company, a roofing contractor, a window installer, a power washer, a landscaper or an electrician. After I’ve spent my 2.5 seconds noticing the house photo, your brand message is lost amid all of the other things trying to grab my attention.

The best truck wrap design ideas focus on powerful brand integration. National chains have an easier time using photography because, once again, their brand is already known. As a result, their message need not be 100% focused on conveying it. Small businesses don’t have this luxury.

Rule #3: Limit Your Copy

Vehicle wrap design for Air America.
The best logos make for the best truck wraps as illustrated by this plumbing, air conditioning and electrical company in Florida.

A good wrap only needs a few things: strong brand implementation, a tagline, a web address and maybe a phone number. Bulleted lists have no place on a vehicle. Would you rather list 10 things no one remembers or provide one or two memorable takeaways? Think of it this way—if this truck was a billboard, how much copy would be on it? Billboards and vehicle advertising face similar challenges and therefore should employ similar strategies. If you prioritize your copy, it will be more effective. In general, the hierarchy should always be:

  1. Brand
  2. Tagline
  3. Website URL
  4. Phone number

The vehicle wraps for Air America have all of the information a customer might need—but the powerful brand is the focus, as it should be.

Rule #4: Design to Stand Out, Not Fit In

Contrary to popular belief, van graphic design ideas that incorporate diamond plate, carbon fiber or tribal flames are not effective. By eliminating fills, noisy backgrounds, photos, bevels and glows, you’ll be on your way to designing a wrap that actually stands out. The wrap market is littered with visual noise. The ones with impact are the wraps we can actually read and remember; they can’t help but stand out among the visual clutter. KickCharge vehicle wrap designs are innovative simply because they are unlike what everyone else seems to be doing. That’s why they stand out.

Rule #5: Simple and Obvious is Good

Truck wrap design for Sweet Life Heating & Cooling.
New brand development and vehicle wrap design for Sweet Life in Kentucky.

If the viewer needs to work too hard to figure out the primary brand messaging, it’s a lost opportunity. Vehicle advertising isn’t like print collateral, where the viewer can stop, absorb the advertising and try to understand the message. Choose one primary takeaway you’re hoping to communicate to the viewer. Is it obvious or is it lost in the imagery? Distance legibility is, of course, a primary concern. Viewers have very limited time to notice, understand and remember your brand and message.

This vehicle wrap design for Sweet Life communicates the company’s brand promise right away. Sweet, simple, and powerful messaging—the cherry on top of a great wrap!

Before & After Gallery Demonstrates the Differences

Perhaps the most straightforward way to see how a brand-focused vehicle wrap is more effective is to compare before and after images side-by-side. Visit our Before & After Gallery for several powerful examples of weak designs transformed into vehicle advertising that does the job so much better.

An out-of-this-world change indeed! Comet Electric’s new brand and wraps draw attention in a way its previous brand’s dully colored vans could not.

Before Absolute Airflow came to KickCharge, its vans contained a big no-no: a bulleted list. Other text on the trucks was too small to be legible from any distance.

There was a lot happening on the Garage Floor Company vehicle wrap before KickCharge Creative rebranded the company. It was nearly impossible to read the company’s actual name. Plus, the color palate and design were uninspiring.

A better brand makes all marketing work better. Refer to a brand implementation checklist for tips on where and how to implement new branding. Remember that when it comes to effective, memorable marketing, consistency is key.

 

 

An awesome change indeed! Macawsome’s new brand and wraps draw attention in a way its previous brand’s white vans could not. 

 

 

Before Watsons came to KickCharge, its vans contained a big no-no: a bulleted list. Other text on the trucks was too small to be legible from any distance.

 

 

There was a lot happening on the Hutton vehicle wrap before KickCharge Creative rebranded the company. Plus, it included logos for the equipment they install and service—another big no-no.

A better brand makes all marketing work better. Refer to a brand implementation checklist for tips on where and how to implement new branding. Remember that when it comes to effective, memorable marketing, consistency is key.

Choosing the Right Canvas

The best trucks to wrap for advertising have an open canvas with minimal obstructions that would interrupt the design. We prefer the Ford Transit Mid Roof; its shape is ideally suited for most logos, and since the license plate is on the bumper, it does not obscure any of the available design space on the doors. The Dodge ProMaster, Chevy Express, Nissan and Mercedes Sprinter have the license plate on the rear door.

Don’t let your brand blend in amongst the traffic! Turn heads with effective vehicle wrap marketing and keep your business moving forward.

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