10 Things to Know When Buying a Vehicle Wrap

    1.A commercial vehicle wrap is one of the least expensive and most effective forms of marketing.


A billboard costs $4000-$6000 a month. A full wrap costs $4000-$6000, is mobile, and lasts 4-7 years. A partial wrap can be even more budget friendly; oftentimes below $2000


Keep in mind that when making your purchase, you will likely incur costs at 2-3 points in the buying process. Production of the vinyl, design, and installation. Some shops do not include their design fee upfront, and will add it later. A shop that can handle all these processes in-house can give you a closer estimate of your final cost. When you purchase a wrap to represent your company, that action sits firmly in the realm of advertising. A good wrap can do wonders for the image your company presents to the outside world. When compared to the other forms of physical advertising, it has a much lower cost to entry. Vehicles, obviously, are mobile. Your vehicle will be on job sites in the areas in which you work, they will also be at your shop, and anywhere you go in between. There are few ways to establish a physical presence and brand recognition in an area as cheap and effective as a well-made vehicle graphic.


  1. Make sure the shop you work with has specialized employees.


In the 21st century the gig economy is booming, and people start businesses every day. The wrap industry is no different.


There are distinct levels when it comes to providing a customer with a vehicle graphic. You need someone to design the graphic, print, measure, and cut it; and you need a professional installer to put it on the vehicle. Many shops outsource some of the process, this can lead to quality control issues, and may lead to problems with receiving your wrap or keeping it in decent shape further down the road.


  1. Make sure the installation process is handled by professionals and occurs in a secure location.


Paint or graphics processes on vehicles can be very particular things. They may require knowledge of how to work with specific pieces of trim, and they MUST occur in a clean and controlled environment for the best possible outcome.


There is nothing worse than looking at something and realizing that it’s just a bit off center, or there’s a chip that just catches the eye, or maybe it’s off-level. The installation process is the piece in the process with the most risk to you, the customer. Bad installers can scratch your paint, mess up your trim, or simply present you with a poor finished product and tell you they’re not going to redo it. Installing a wrap outdoors or in a dirty work environment can lead to dirt and debris embedded in your paint, which means that if you eventually sell the vehicle, it will have a lower value. A quality installed wrap can protect the paint on your vehicle and keep it looking brand new down the line when the wrap eventually comes off.


  1. The product when you buy a wrap is the advertising. You need to make sure you use a company with a trained designer.


A good designer can be a luxury for many wrap shops. If they specialize in color changes or retail work, they might not even need a full-time designer. If they’re more of a sign shop, they will typically have more experience with flat mediums, like signs, billboards, flyers, etc.


A vehicle is not a flat medium. Therefore, it presents its own set of unique challenges to a designer. If it’s for commercial usage, it’s advertising. A good designer in this industry should be experienced with many types of vehicles and know the ins and outs of marketing. This person will be the one to walk you through the steps in creating the message to put on your graphic that you want your prospects to see.


  1. Your company needs to be using professional programs and vehicle templates.


This is exactly what it sounds like. When designing your wrap, you can’t just throw it together in a PDF, print it, and expect it to look good. 


When designing your wrap, it should be done on a professional program that can model your vehicle. That way all the variables of a vehicle are accounted for before the graphic is even made. There are multiple programs that can be used, but at Don’t Drive Naked we stick with the industry standard.


  1. What material is being used?


There’s many, many types of vinyl. What you need to know is that they usually fall under sign grade and vehicle grade.


The latter of the 2 is made to do exactly what it sounds like. Vehicle grade is meant to contour to the different shapes on a vehicle and tends to be more durable in order to better withstand the elements that your vehicle will be exposed to. Sign grade tends to be cheaper, but will start to crack, shrink, and fade much sooner. When you see a vehicle with cheap looking graphics that have dark rings around the edges, that’s sign grade vinyl. The rings are dirt that have embedded themselves into the exposed glue as the graphic shrinks. Vehicle grade can also stand for the glue, which is a key part in the removal process and ensuring the paint underneath stays well-kept.


  1. Do they have their own printer? Does it match their material?


Printers, especially the large ones used for printing large vinyl graphics, can be finicky things. Your wrap shop needs to be able to handle it.


Retail level wrap shops can afford to be less picky with their printers, as basic projects like color changes may not even require prints. Sign shops have printers that are made to work with sign grade graphics. If they need to outsource their printing, this can lead to quality control issues. Therefore, you need to make sure that you find a shop that has quality printers on-site that are made to work with the vinyl that you need for your vehicle. The shop also needs to be well-versed in using them and have a quality production process for making the prints into finished graphics that are ready to be installed. This is important, as problems that are not caught in this phase can make it onto your vehicle and leave you with a bad finished product.


  1. Check out their website and see what they do the most. Have they done a full wrap before?


The wrap industry is a service industry. The barrier to entry is oftentimes just knowledge of how to install vinyl onto a vehicle. However, operators at this level are often not skilled or knowledgeable enough to handle the challenges that occur at the commercial level.


Before even contacting a company about a wrap, you should check their website to see if they have done the work you’re looking for. A full wrap is a much greater challenge than simply applying some graphics. Commercial graphics are often a totally different process when compared to color changes or other retail work. Therefore, you need to make sure the company you work with has experience doing the work that you need.


  1. If they do commercial work, their portfolio is not just examples of their work, but a list of references.


They should have multiple examples of work with a similar level of coverage to what you’re looking for. If they do commercial wraps, then those examples have a name on the side that you can call.


As with any creative work, it’s hard to gauge how the message in a particular graphic will hit the buyer, their prospects, and everybody else that will see the finished product. Anything that can alleviate the unknown is a good thing. When working with a fleet graphics company, their customers go to them to put their name and contact info on a vehicle. These vehicles should be listed as a portfolio on their website and can be seen publicly. It does not hurt to take a look at them, and maybe even place a phone call in order to have an idea of how your experience will go.


  1. How many types of vehicles have they done? 


Each vehicle presents their own set of challenges: vans, box trucks, cars, pickups, etc.


If a company only has experience with enthusiast vehicles like coupes and sedans, they may not be able to give you the best quality product on a van. The lines on every vehicle will be different, and they will all present their own set of challenges. Pickups, though they may be one of the most common vehicles on the road, tend to be one of the harder vehicles to wrap due to their narrow bodies and high volume of curves and corners. Specialty vehicles pose unique challenges in both the design and installation processes. Make sure the company that you use is highly experienced and capable if you want a quality product.




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