Complete Guide to Vehicle Graphics

We love vehicle graphics at American Color Labs.  We would like to use this blog post to help our clients that are business owners and marketers understand the benefits of using vehicle graphics for advertising and to explain the different options available for vehicle graphic advertising.  As always, contact us if you have any questions – we love talking graphics!

Why use vehicle graphics?

Your clients expect it

According to a study conducted by 3M, more than 50% of all commercial vehicles in the United States have vehicle graphics.  This number is steadily rising too.  If you are a small business and you don’t have vehicle graphics, then you are now in the minority.  Customers are coming to expect some sort of vehicle identification.  You would not show up to a business meeting without a business card…and now you should not show up to a client’s site (or home) without some kind of professional vehicle identification.  As we have learned from every action movie produced since the advent of color films, an unmarked white van is a sketchy site…don’t send your employees out in unmarked vehicles.

It is inexpensive advertising

Cadbury-Schweppes, the soft drink company, completed a detailed study of advertising channels that concluded a full vehicle wrap costs 48 cents per 1,000 impressions.  While the cost-per-click for key search terms varies significantly by industry, for most industries, this is a very inexpensive alternative form of advertising.  It is also important to know that the viewing audience is geographically bound, making these impressions potentially significantly more valuable than online alternatives.

Build a brand

How often do you have access to a large space to convey an impactful message?  Besides billboards, there are not many places to do so.  When you have a large canvas, you can make a more lasting impression than you can make on computer screen or phone.  If you are not using vehicle graphics, then you are missing a great opportunity to build a brand!

Types of vehicle graphics


This is a great starting point, particularly if you use your personal vehicle for work purposes.  You can slap the magnet onto your vehicle on Monday morning, and peel it off on Friday afternoon.  Be sure to order a magnet that is rated to stay on your vehicle when traveling up to 70 mph…you wouldn’t want to lose it during a trip on the highway!  These are easy to design, and very inexpensive.

Single color cut vinyl

This is a budget option for vehicle graphics.  We suggest using single color cut vinyl graphics if you are comfortable advertising with a single-color logo and perhaps some simple language like your company name and contact information.  Typically, you won’t need to engage a designer for more than a few hours to get the graphics right.

Full color cut vinyl 

If you want something more elaborate, and you want to promote logo recognition, then using full color cut vinyl graphics is a good choice.  Sometimes, when you combine full color cut vinyl and a carefully chosen vehicle paint color, you can make an impact while spending less that what you would on a full wrap.

Full vehicle wrap

We get texted pictures of interesting vehicle wrap designs frequently.  We are never texted pictures of cut vinyl or magnets.  With a full wrap, the creative palate is broad.  Do you want your customers to tell their friends about your brand?  Use a wrap.  Think about the last time you ate at a food truck.  We will bet you took a picture in front of the truck if it was wrapped…and you probably posted it to social media.  We will also bet that you didn’t bother if the truck just had simple one-color graphics.  This illustrates the fundamental difference between a wrap and the alternatives like cut vinyl and magnets:  wraps promote appeal and awareness…the alternatives usually only promote awareness.

Wraps are by far the most impactful thing you can do in vehicle advertising.  If you are going to do a full wrap, know that it will be a significant expense.  Most sedans cost at least $2,000 to design, print, and wrap.  Vans and specialized vehicles will cost more.  Cut vinyl and magnets are fantastic less expensive alternatives, however the possibilities for advancing your brand appeal with a wrap are significant.

Awareness and appeal

Magnets and cut vinyl are valuable alternatives for promoting brand awareness, but they do not necessarily promote brand appeal – a very important part of any brand strategy.  How much money do you want to invest in having your clients like your brand versus simply knowing your brand?  This is an important marketing decision that is different for every business.

Contact us today for a free consultation on what vehicle graphics are best suited for you brand.  We love vehicle graphics at American Color Labs!

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