The UK livery market is a mature one but there are still new innovations to reflect on – literally – and sound reasons to wrap as well as tweet your company message, as Guy Bird discovers.
The idea of moving messages on your company’s vehicle fleet is almost as old and as venerable as the steady-handed art of the sign writer, but there are still plenty of new developments in modern van livery delivery. New finishes, colours, textures and technical solutions are keeping the livery market interesting and give good reason to reappraise and perhaps refresh your fleet’s livery approach.
Signs Express claims to be the UK’s largest signs and graphics company and boasts more than 65 centres countrywide – each one with its own custom-designed production centre and application bay ideal for vehicle graphics – so its marketing manager, Rebecca Dack, is unsurprisingly enthusiastic about the current products available.
“There are so many more colour variations and finishes available now in the conformable film marketplace,” she says. “You can have any colour under the rainbow and your graphics digitally printed."
From a trend perspective Dack sees the ‘half-wrap’ as a popular current choice, “as it enables you to create an attention-grabbing design without the cost involved in a full wrap”, and she points to particular finishes like matt vinyl and carbon-fibre effects causing a stir for their “high-quality and extraordinary impact, not easily recreated using paint finishes”.
Dack also cites new wrapping technology that includes air-release pockets to make the wrap’s application more viable for deeply corrugated vehicles.
James Harris, commercial director at Stewart Signs, is quick to highlight new types of wrap becoming more commonplace that can not only result in new finishes but also quicker application times too, both to the benefit of the final customer: “We’ve seen a steady increase of non-PVC films entering the marketplace. These environmentally-conscious material alternatives like 3M’s Envision and Arlon’s SLX films have seen wrap prices drop because they’re quicker to install and remove, so we can brand more vehicles in one day, creating additional cost savings.”
Beyond the shine of the initial graphic artwork’s installation, Harris is also a believer in the sometimes neglected aftersales aspect of commercial signage, especially given the need for vehicle fleets to keep mobile and avoid unnecessary downtime.
“Livery management and aftercare parts supply has historically been overlooked in the fleet industry for anything but the largest of fleets,” he explains to What Van? “These days it’s more about whole-life cost savings rather than the initial ticket price. Budget cuts and a focus on vehicle off-road (VOR) cost implications have increased the need for aftercare support requirements to keep our clients’ vehicles on-brand and on the road. In response to these trends we have made significant improvements to aftercare packages. Our parts supply portals are designed to enable easy identification and the ordering of repair parts for complex fleets. Rapid dispatch service-level agreements (SLAs) minimise off-road downtime and we also offer 24/7 support services like application guides, legislative advice on safety markings, and the raising of maintenance support tickets.”
In terms of future vehicle promotional tech trends, it appears to be too early for the sort of organic light-emitting diode (OLED) advertising screens seen in underground stations that display moving image loops, but Stewart Signs’ Harris points to increasing demand for the sort of eco-friendly non-PVC films he mentioned earlier, as well as reflective wrapping films and patterned laminates.
Moving things into a three-dimensional realm, Signs Express’s Dack is excited by wrapping developments that will not only look good but feel good too. “Tactile signage is a developing trend, which could be adapted to the vehicle livery sector,” she enthuses.
“With the advent of 3D printing and its growing adoption, innovative companies will be looking outside the box to really make their vehicle stand out by perhaps using shapes bonded to the surface of the vehicle and then wrapping graphics over the top. The resulting textured finish will be an attention-grabber. An alternative to this would be a textured finish to the vinyl, created by using different volumes of ink during the printing process.”
She also believes, like Harris, that more complex reflective graphics will soon come to the fore: “Using reflective graphics more distinctly, within the legal perimeters, of course, for enhanced night-time visibility of message, as well as for safety considerations, is also a possibility.”