When it comes to branding, many graphic designers agree that truck wraps, when designed and executed properly, have great potential to generate leads and build a brand within a community —more so than mailings or even the company’s website.

“In a populated area, your vehicle can make between 5,000 and 10,000 impressions per week,” said Brian Steele, design consultant for Aggressive Graphics in St. Jacob, Illinois. “Typically, most contractors we work with say the wrap pays for itself in the first six months.”

But, the same designers also caution there is a right way and wrong way to approach the truck wrap, and it all starts with the logo.


For contractors interested in pursuing graphic wraps for their vehicles, expect to be involved throughout the process, said Nicole Compton, project coordinator for Revolution Wraps in Lincoln, Nebraska.

“We’re bouncing ideas around [with them], gathering brand standards, and doing other client research,” she said. “Then, we brainstorm, conceptualize, design, and present options to clients for initial feedback. We fine tune until we receive final approval — something we and our clients are happy with.”

Steele said the design process varies on the preference of each client and how involved he or she wants to be. “Some have a major influence, and less-creative others rely on our knowledge and experience.”

Either way, contractors should be prepared to either overhaul or completely toss out their current branding, if they have any.

“The options for us are to try to fix what’s wrong with what they have, which is not as drastic as a rebrand,” said Dan Antonelli, president and creative director of Graphic D-Signs in Washington, New Jersey. “That’s an option, as well, and sometimes they feel a little better about pursuing that than a total rebrand. But sometimes we do really have to perform a full rebrand.”

Often a company’s existing logo or brand simply doesn’t translate well to a graphic truck wrap, he added. “I explain to them what the challenges are, and the big thing we try to think about is that canvas is the single-most-important application of that brand. For us, it’s ironic because we do websites and brochures, too, but everything generally starts with a logo and truck wrap first. The impression of that truck and what it says in the community is very important. We’re trying to control that first impression. They may not know anything at all about your company other than what’s on your truck, so why wouldn’t you want to start with a good impression?”


The first step in pursuing a new truck wrap design is to have a good idea of what you want to achieve with the wrap and look, Compton said. “The better the idea someone has, the less involvement the designer has, which reduces the cost of art preparation.”

Next, find a graphic designer who understands your brand and what you’re trying to accomplish.

“Pick a qualified shop with experience in all forms of the process,” Steele said. “Some are design-focused shops, so the installation and material knowledge [is lacking]. And others are installers with little design experience. Look for an experienced designer online who specifically designs commercial vehicles.”

“Choose a graphic designer who is a good listener, is honest, and willing to take suggestions, but who will also recommend what’s best for readability, visibility, longevity, and installation,” Compton said.

Asking potential designers for references is also never a bad idea, Compton added. “Is the installation company certified? Ask for references and examples of the company’s work.”

When it’s time to begin designing the wrap, there are several important things to keep in mind.

“The biggest part of the vehicle is the color,” Steele said. “Own your color.”

Beyond color, it’s important not to include too much information on the vehicle. In fact, less is often more, and “in most cases, you don’t want to over complicate the design and make the vehicle hard to read,” Steele said.

“We want those designs to be simple, distinct, and easily understood from a distance,” Antonelli agreed. “Legibility is so critical. We want the takeaway to be, ‘Wow, this is a reputable company.’ They’re not going to rip me off, they’ll do the job, and maybe I’ll be willing to pay more because they’re going to deliver a better product than the other guys.”

Compton also said a clean and simple design with a prominently featured logo is the way to go. “[Make sure the] type of business is clear,” he added.

The biggest misstep contractors make is to try to cram too much information onto a vehicle, which often sacrifices their brands’ identities in the process.

“It’s a mistake to include too much information and cluttered content,” Compton said, adding that another don’t is “having no clear contact information and no clear sense of business.”

Using too much white is another design faux pas, Steele said, as is using photographs.


Of course, truck wraps, especially ones designed by reputable graphic designers, are not cheap, but the return on investment is often brief.

Antonelli shared the story of a contractor that was doing roughly $700,000 in business every year. Antonelli’s firm was hired to perform a brand redesign complete with truck wraps. Four years later, the company is now doing $3.8 million in business yearly. “I’m not going to say it’s 100 percent because of the logo, but the logo started everything,” he said.

Contractors that are interested in investing in truck wraps can expect to spend up to $10,000, depending on the designer, the size of the wrap — whether it’s a full or partial wrap — and whether the design process required a complete redesign and rebranding.

“Pricing is based on the total amount of coverage for the vehicle, measured in square feet,” Compton said. “Decals can range from $300-$800, partial wraps can cost $800-$2,000, and full wraps can run $1,500-$3,000 or more. Everything depends on the type of vehicle, how much coverage, and how involved the design.”

“Pricing is bid per job,” Steele said. “Most prints and prices are driven per square feet, but design and install vary depending on time and complexity.”

“We charge between $5,000 and $10,000 for the brand and design of the vehicle,” Antonelli said. “We spend about 40 hours on each brand we develop, then 10-15 hours to design the truck wrap itself.”

For budget-minded contractors, Compton suggests keeping design revisions to a minimum to help keep costs down. “It’s an hourly charge,” Compton said. “We always keep clients apprised of the time allotment used.”


Truck wraps are most effective when they are professionally done and accurately reflect a company’s brand and mission.

“Vehicle wraps advertise for you 24/7/365 in all weather,” Compton said. “Even when you aren’t working, it’s working for you. If vehicle wraps receive an average of 40,000 impressions a day and a company wrapped six vehicles over the span of five years, the impressions would total 328 million. Vehicle wraps are your own — there’s no competition for space like there is in TV, radio, billboards, and other forms of advertising.”

Wrapped vehicles are “able to command more money because people perceive these designs as professional,” Antonelli said, adding it saddens him to see great contracting companies with poor brands miss out on business because of the poor images they are projecting throughout the community.

“I look at trucks as unique opportunities,” he said. “HVAC contractors have a significant opportunity to make a big difference in how they’re seen in their communities simply by adding a design to their trucks.”

Publication date: 11/7/2016

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