On a daily basis consumers are exposed to a variety of signs - one of the most powerful and affordable ways to build awareness, while promoting a business's services. An affordable, largely untapped way to market to consumer and business customers is vehicle graphics.

By displaying your message on your company vehicle, you can generate up to 600 impressions for every mile driven. According to research done by Madison Mobile Media, three-fourths of consumers develop their initial impression of a company and its products based on vehicle graphics.

The quality and appearance of any business or service provider's sign and graphics are a good way to communicate to prospective customers the quality of their service while adding a touch of personality, and vehicle graphics are no exception.

Most service companies rely on vehicles to conduct day-to-day business whether it is driving to a supplier, a business, or to a customer's home. Consider the advertising space on your vehicle and the role it plays in your total marketing plan. Vehicle graphics move with you, allowing for greater exposure to potential customers. More name recognition as a result of vehicle graphics increases the value of other elements of an advertising or marketing program, such as radio, TV, Yellow Pages, and print ads. Additionally, utilizing vehicle graphics will help to clearly identify your services to potential customers.

Lutz Plumbing before: The company's vehicles were plain white vans. The building exterior was also very plain. (Click on the image for an enlarged view.)

Lutz Plumbing, a plumbing, heating, and mechanical services company in San Francisco, recently discovered that fact for themselves. In March 2006, Lutz had newly designed signs installed over its building entrance and garage door; photographic-quality images of contemporary bathroom and kitchen products on the company's garage door; and similar full-color graphics on the Lutz vans.

Lutz Plumbing depends on its vans to conduct daily business and essentially turned the company vehicles into "mobile billboards." After seeing a Lutz Plumbing van with its newly installed graphics parked in a residential area, a new customer came into the showroom and ordered a $20,000 plumbing job. Additionally, the company experienced a 9 percent increase in monthly sales shortly after the signs were installed.

While the concept of vehicle graphics may not be new, what is relatively new are vehicle "wraps" that go around the doors, back and front of a vehicle, displaying high-resolution, full-color graphics. Digital, full-color printing equipment, found at most professional sign and graphics centers, can produce vehicle wraps with photographic-quality images and vibrant, long-lasting colors.

Lutz Plumbing after: The company's vans and the building exterior now display full-color graphics. (Click on the image for an enlarged view.)

Vehicle graphics are ideally suited for service providers and can be very cost effective. For example, if an HVAC service contractor displayed a message on the company vehicle, it could generate 1,000 impressions for less than 70 cents U.S., according to Madison Mobile Media. Utilizing full-color graphics, like the ones Lutz Plumbing incorporated on its vehicles, has an even greater impact. Research by the Direct Marketing Association found that the addition of full-color graphics can increase reader retention by 71 percent.

There are a variety of different options and choices to make in selecting even a simple sign or graphic, and it helps to include someone knowledgeable in the process from the start. The best source for advice on selecting the right signs and vehicle graphics is an experienced sign and graphics professional. When thinking through sign options, the business owner or manager might want to keep the following suggestions in mind:

  • Determine the budget before talking to a sign and graphics professional.

  • Decide what information to communicate. With vehicle graphics, the less said, the more powerful the message, according to sign industry experts.

  • Identify the image that the graphics should convey, such as professional, trendy, or elegant.

  • Think about where the vehicle will be driven, such as a cold, rainy environment or a hot, dry environment.

  • Find out if local ordinances restrict the business from parking the vehicle next to its location for additional exposure.

  • Decide if the business will create the artwork for the graphics or if it will be created by the sign company that is hired.

    Once these questions have been addressed, the next step is to keep in mind four basic tips for effective design: visibility, readability, noticeability, and legibility. Visibility is a prime factor when putting together any type of sign. To improve visibility, the owner should ensure that the sign's lettering is clearly distinguishable from its surroundings, especially on a vehicle. Readability is important because it ensures that the reader correctly comprehends the message. The design should be as easy to read as possible. Noticeability refers to a characteristic that draws the viewer's attention. This can easily be done by utilizing full-color graphics in the design. Using more than one color will not only increase the noticeability but can increase the readability of the graphic. Lastly, keep legibility in mind, making sure the letters on the sign are individually distinguishable from other letters.

    By working with a knowledgeable sign and graphics expert, and armed with the right information, any business or service provider can create the right look for their vehicle. Whether you are an independent technician or the manager of a fleet, effective vehicle graphics can help raise awareness, build your business, and boost your bottom line.

    Publication date: 10/23/2006