Truck Wrap by Big Mountain ImagingYou can turn your company car, van or truck into a big, colorful, rolling billboard with a vinyl wrap. Particularly for local businesses, wraps are a high-impact way to get your brand in front of potential customers in your trade area. On the downside, at $2,000-3,000 for a full wrap, it’s a high up-front cost for advertising that’s hard to measure. Here’s a quick guide that covers the basics of vehicle graphic wraps:

Finding a car wrap installer

A quality installer should be certified by one of the major vinyl companies, like FELLERS, 3M, or Avery Dennison.  Visit the shop to get an idea of the precision of the work being done—bubbles in the vinyl or misaligned seams are tip-offs.

Creating a design

The installer should provide you with a designer or you can hire your own. They’ll use vehicle-wrap design software to create a graphic that fits your car or truck model and you’ll see a preview of your wrap job. Just remember that your wrap design will need to make sense to a driver passing you at 65 mph so keep the images big and the message simple.

Choosing your wrap

A full wrap covers the hood and three sides. Legally, you can’t cover the windshield or driver and passenger windows but other windows can be covered with perforated vinyl.  You can cover the roof but unless you’re driving around Manhattan, probably won’t.

A partial wrap might cover part of the sides or only windows and is designed to blend with the car’s paint color.

A spot graphic might just display a logo and phone number on a door.

Choosing materials

Cast vinyl is the standard for its stretchability and durability but there is an alternative at about half the cost, calendered vinyl, suitable for flat surfaces and only likely to last for a few months.

Car wrap costs

Figure full-car wraps will run you $2,000-plus, including design work, SUVs and vans $3,000-plus. Expect to pay in the same range for box trucks. Spot graphic jobs might run from $200 to $800. Shops offer fleet discounts. In terms of return on your investment, you’ll never really know how many people will see your graphic wrap roll by, but you can count on positive branding from being seen making deliveries or service calls and generally looking successful in the neighborhoods you serve.

How long will a vehicle wrap last?

Major makers like Avery Dennison guarantee wraps not to fade, crack, or peel for up to 5 years in most locations but installers say you should conservatively expect 3 or 4 years before a wrap starts to look worn.

Requirements for your vehicle

Vinyl applies best to a factory paint job—it may not stick at all to repainted metal—and, of course, dents make will make it hard for the installer to get a smooth fit.

Maintaining a wrap

Sorry, no more blasting your van clean at the car wash if you want to get the maximum life out of a wrap; hand-washing with mild detergent is recommended. Installers can add pieces later, for instance to replace a phone number or cover some damage. And, at the end of their lives, wraps can be loosened with a heat gun and pulled off without damaging the car paint.

Image: Truck Wrap by Big Mountain Imaging