Vehicle graphics is a statement one makes.
From a full commercial wrap to a partial color change, car, truck, and boat graphics tell people something about you— what your business does, your contact information, and your location; what colors you like, your slogan, and your favorite brands; or just a play on the mood with stripes and highlights.
Therefore, before you set up on the journey to get a quote and commit to a bid, you need to know two things: The extent of the graphics and the longevity of the effect.
When it comes to vehicle graphics the options are plenty and the decision is hard:
1- Full Commercial Wrap: This option is clearly the most expensive and expansive. It requires a careful design, precise printing and lamination of high end vinyl, and a professional installation. It usually involves two kinds of vinyl: solid cast vinyl to be applied on the metal frame of the vehicle and perforated vinyl to be applied on the windows. It takes several days to install. It usually requires the installer to remove the door handles, the logos/emblems, the bumpers, and other peripheral parts in order to avoid leaving “loose” vinyl edges that can peel off and unravel the entire wrap. The usual cost is $10 per sq ft excluding the design. But in the end, you get a mobile and constant advertising “vehicle” that speaks to your customers all over the town.
2- Partial Vehicle Wrap: By design, the printing shop can wrap only the front of the vehicle or just the trunk or the sides. Expectedly, this wrap costs less but not necessary in proportion with the surface area. For instance, if you’re wrapping 25% of your car the cost is not 1/4 of the full wrap cost. There is always an initial cost for setting up the shop and bringing in the installers even if it’s for a small area. Therefore, the larger the area getting wrapped the cheaper the per sq ft cost.
3- Vehicle Decals: These are the easiest to design, print, and install. They are affordable and can give you the biggest bang for your buck. Just like a full wrap, they include graphics and gradient of colors, but they don’t involved a large area of the surface of the vehicle. They are usually limited to the front doors or the back gate. They are an affordable alternative to a full commercial wrap for small businesses and startups.
4- Lettering: This option doesn’t involve printing at all! It only requires cut vinyl, which can be stretched and molded to match the vehicle’s curves and bends. It can be applied to both the solid frame and the windows. It comes in various colors, but you cannot create a gradient of colors or shadows. The cut vinyl doesn’t fade away, hence it doesn’t require lamination. It’s the cheapest option for small businesses and startups who just want to show a telephone number and a website on the their vehicles. The cost here involves not only cutting the vinyl, but also weeding off the excess vinyl, applying a masking tape to help make the lettering transferrable. The final cost depends on the size of the lettering and complexity of the weeding. It usually around $8 per square foot.
5- Color Change: This option is used usually for social purposes. It gives the vehicle a cool look. From adding strips and flames to a sport car to turning a VW “beatle” into a ladybug, color changes can be innovative, creative, and head-turning. The color change can also involve the look of the finish— gloss, matte, chrome, gold, camo, and many more. The cost of color change can be as affordable as $5 per sq ft for black vinyl stripes to as expensive as $40 per sq ft for chrome wrap of a sport car.
6- Car Magnets: This option is both affordable and easily replaceable. Magnets are practical alternative to permanent vinyl. They can be applied to personal cars when the owner takes off his 9-5 daily job hat, and put on his after hour personal business hat. So, a State employee who also has a side home improvement business can get these magnets done and apply them whenever he’s performing his side business duties. He can then taken them off when he goes to his State job in the morning. These magnets cost roughly $25 per sq ft and often come in 12” X 18” and 18” X24” sizes that fit most vehicles and accommodate most graphics.
Therefore, before you embark on the quest of shopping around for a “car wrap” you need to determine:
1- How large of a wrap you need or can you benefit from lettering instead?
2- Do you need to do the roof of the vehicle or not? It’s only aesthetic. After all, no one will climb a ladder just to take a look at the roof of your car or truck, not to mention the expense you’ll incur in wrapping that useless part.
3- Can we cut down on the labor cost? Is it necessary to remove the bed of your truck just to make the vinyl wrap looks perfect behind the cabin? It may be enough to wrap the vinyl around the cabin and tuck it behind the bed frame without performing a major costly “surgery!”
The second point you need to know about vehicle vinyls is its longevity. Nowadays, vinyls can last up to 12 years outdoors. Impressive, right! Yes, but here’s the problem. A graphic that is setting there for more than 6-12 months won’t be noticed anymore. In other words, the statement, which you’re trying to make using vehicle graphics, is lost! Therefore, you ought to change your graphics every 3-5 years to revive it. Otherwise, it becomes a ghost from the past, and no one will take you seriously. Most franchisors instruct their franchisees to change their graphics every 3-5 years to make sure they are still relevant in a fast changing market.
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