Getting into the vinyl groove

Date: Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A livery wrap can provide a cost-effective and surprisingly high-tech way for businesses to get their message across to a wide audience, as Steve Banner explains
Wrap your van in vinyl using some eye-catching images plus contact details and you will have created a mobile billboard that can be seen by thousands of people daily. If well-executed it will help to get your message across to the public and raise your profile in your catchment area.
What is more – and unlike a poster site – all that lovely space on the sides, back and bonnet of your vehicles is free of charge.
It’s possible to go one stage further, however, and get some direct feedback from prospective customers according to Richard Clark of van graphics specialist Raccoon.
You can incorporate Quick Response (QR) codes into your livery that can be scanned with a smartphone by passers-by while your van is parked in the high street. They will be able to find out more about the services your firm offers and you will be able to find out quite a bit about them.
“Using the smartphone’s location information you can track where a QR code has been scanned,” Clark points out in a study he has written entitled ‘Effective vehicle branding – an end to static mobile advertising’.
“This can provide valuable information about where your target market is located.
“You can track QR codes all the way through to actual orders,” he continues. “What is more, if you use multiple designs or promotions within your fleet then you can collect valuable information about which are the most effective.
“With this information to hand you can look to refine your vehicle branding message.”
Clark contends that smartphone users who scan a QR code should be directed to a mobile landing page rather than the company’s main website. Send them to the latter and all the information it contains may take forever to download and the inquirer will quickly lose interest.
“By using a mobile landing page, however, you can provide instant information along with a simple special offer or enquiry form for the user to interact with,” he states. “Mobile devices need quick and simple information to display once a QR code has been scanned on the street.”

Emails and websites

If you are displaying an email address on vehicles then it should be a specific mobile address rather than the company’s usual sales@ address, Clark advises. “You could have several different email addresses to track results from different strategies, geographic areas and vans,” he says. “It’s very easy to pull up data on email traffic and you can quickly drill down into which elements of your branded vehicle fleet are the most effective.
“You can use a new website address just for your fleet and use that URL to collect information specific to that web address. You could consider using a shorter, catchier, URL that is easier for the viewer to remember on the go.”
Think carefully about the phone number that is on display too.
“With modern phone systems, especially VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) it is simple and inexpensive to add multiple, local or non-geographic phone numbers,” Clark says. “With this flexibility you can easily add unique phone numbers to vans.
“Furthermore, it’s possible to handle the callers in such a way that you know it’s an enquiry generated from the vehicle fleet or even from a specific van.”
So not only can an LCV become a mobile advertisement hoarding, it can also become a powerful marketing and data-capture tool. When viewed in this light, the £2500-£3000 it can cost to get a long-wheelbase high-roof Mercedes-Benz Sprinter wrapped or the £1500-£2500  to get the same thing done to a Vauxhall Vivaro begins to look a sensible investment.

But If your corporate colour is shocking pink or fluorescent yellow and your vans are painted accordingly then that can pose a major problem, says Dave Freeman, manager of the commercial vehicle specialist division at leasing company Alphabet. You may think the colour is fabulous but a second-hand buyer probably won’t. “As a consequence it may fetch £1000 less than you expected,” he warns. Order a white one instead and have it wrapped in your chosen, lurid, shade and the residual value problem is eliminated. When the wrap is ultimately taken off a pristine white body will be revealed – the vinyl will have protected it against the elements – which will help ensure that the vehicle can be disposed of easily at a sensible price. Admittedly, the cost of the wrapping and the cost of having it removed may in some cases be more than the RV up-tick, but the aforementioned marketing benefits wrapping can bring mean that you should come out ahead.
It can take a couple of days to wrap a van properly, says Mark Baker, a director of signage business Creative Image Management (CIM): “You need half a day to clean the exterior thoroughly and remove various bits of trim.
“The work has to be done under cover and in a warm atmosphere,” he continues. He prefers vans to be wrapped at CIM’s premises rather than at the customer’s because he knows that working conditions at the company’s own site are exactly what is required.
“Go to a client’s premises and you may sometimes find that they are dusty and cramped,” he says. They may be too cold as well.  

Quality source

Once in place a professional wrap can last from three to five years if quality vinyl is used, says Rebecca Dack, marketing manager at Signs Express. “We source ours from 3M,” she states. The vinyl is unlikely to fade during that time.
If the wrap has been applied wrongly then any problems will become apparent in the first six months she adds: “It may, for example, start to bubble.”
Peeling off a wrap takes half a day to a day and involves the application of heat, says Baker. Removal should not damage the paintwork unless the body has been damaged, repaired and re-sprayed at some stage.
Van operators must take care when cleaning vinyl-clad vehicles.
“Do not use a steam-cleaner because of what the heat will do to the adhesive and do not use a pressure-washer,” Baker says. “Hand-wash it instead, although putting it through a brush-wash shouldn’t do it too much harm.”
“It is possible to use a brush-wash,” add Dack, “but not advisable as it may reduce the longevity and vibrancy of any colours over time.”Pressure washers can be used, but not at close range, says Creative FX director, Sean Davis: “If you have to use one, then use it at a distance then hand-wash your van afterwards.
He, though, has different advice when it comes to a brush wash, saying that he wouldn’t use one. The graphics business has a vehicle it wrapped 12 years ago available for inspection: a testimony to how durable wraps can be. Like Baker, in Davis’s experience it takes around a day to fetch off a wrap. “We use two people equipped with heat guns and charge £55 an hour,” he says.
Chemicals may sometimes have to be employed to remove the residue of adhesive says a spokesman at Stewart Signs, but if the correct ones are used, and used professionally, then no harm should come to the paintwork.
Not everyone wants a full or even partial wrap, despite half-wraps being almost as effective as full ones without costing quite as much. Some firms simply want their name, address and telephone number/email address/website address applied on each side of a van and across the rear doors plus perhaps their logo and some decorative squiggles.
“For that we’d typically charge around £200 to £300,” says Baker.
While that will have a lot less impact than a complete wrap, it may make more sense for a start-up business or one that it is on a tight budget. Bear in mind, though, that the wrap prices quoted earlier are for one-off jobs: ask for 20 vans to be wrapped identically and the unit price is likely to fall by around 20% to 25%.
Bear in mind, too, says Dack that if you alter the entire colour of your van with a vinyl wrap then you must notify the DVLA. If the entire wrap is multi-coloured then the agency must be informed of this change too, she adds.
“However, you do not need to tell the DVLA if all you’ve had done is a half wrap or normal graphics,” she states.

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