W hen choosing the vans to put into service on their fleets, operators will naturally carefully consider payload and loadspace capacities to work out which ones best suit their delivery needs. But savvy businesses will also be thinking about how they can best transform their fleets into mobile advertising billboards for their products and services.
This is where livery comes in, and there’s more to it than getting the local signwriter to scrawl the company’s name and number on the side of the van. Operators can choose between, for example, a full or partial vinyl wrap, standalone cut-out graphics or digital print on white vinyl. As livery firm Sign Language says: “Each and every vehicle you have on the road is an ambassador for your company.”

It’s a wrap

Whether the wrap partially or completely covers the van’s surface, graphics can be digitally printed from artwork images for advertising purposes. Another option is to change the colour of a van with coloured vinyl as a more cost-effective and reversible alternative to a respray. Either way, the vinyl is heated and stretched over every contour of the van’s surface to conform to its shape.
Operators need to take extra care when removing a wrap. Although it can usually be relied upon to protect paintwork from sun, rain and salt damage as well as minor abrasions, if the correct amount of heat and pressure is not used when stripping off the vinyl it can cause damage.
Sign Language says it normally allows 14 days to livery a vehicle after artwork has been approved, but it can be flexible. Cost depends on the models concerned, how many there are in the fleet, the complexity of the design and how long the wrap needs to stay on.
The durability of the vinyl is an important consideration too.
Clyde Wraps uses products from 3M, Avery and Metamark. It expects its wraps to last for up to five years. Liquid and overlay laminates can be used to protect wraps against abrasive cleaning products and general wear and tear.
Signs Express, like most livery specialists, can produce graphics from a client’s own designs or carry out the design itself to the customer’s instructions. Presenting the livery company with ready-made artwork is likely to reduce costs.
Signs Express uses templates to draw up the graphics, taking account of the van’s contours. The graphics are applied in climate-controlled livery bays at the company’s 80 centres across the UK.
Signs Express boss Craig Brown says the choice between a full wrap or individual lettering often comes down to the client’s budget, but adds businesses are increasingly opting for “bright, bold, full colour wraps” to turn their corporate vehicles into “moving advertisements”. He says basic, single-cut lettering can start from £100 whereas a complex wrap can cost up to £2500. He advises companies to avoid using type faces that are script fonts and stick to clean lines for text that is easy to read when the van is out on the road.
Colours should be chosen depending upon the base colour of the van, but generally it’s advisable to look for a strong contrasting tone. For example, yellow lettering won’t work on a white van but will be much more effective on a black background.
Paul Errington, the founder of Wrapido, admits some operators are still wary about colour-change wraps and need to be convinced they are not “cheap paint jobs”. But he says the two overriding concerns for fleets getting their vans liveried are downtime and the time it takes to carry out the application, which affects the cost of labour.
“If your fleet is over 25 vehicles then you should carefully consider the cost of downtime as part of the livery price,” he says.
For a paint job he says customers can expect vans to be off the road for seven days whereas for a wrap this can be cut to two days. Lead times can also be reduced from up to eight weeks to one or two weeks.
He claims Wrapido has developed techniques to dramatically cut installation times.
“Highly skilled labour time is the biggest cost in the wrap process. We have developed tools that help professional fitters make up to 30% time savings on wrap fitting time and vehicle downtime. In turn the savings will take effect in the lower cost of the wrap.”
Wrapido charges £30-£40 per panel for a cut text and flat panel livery with a mid-grade three to five-year life vinyl. A vehicle wrap colour change or full printed design wrap on a MWB high-roof Ford Transit comes in at £1150-£1450.
Operators should always use vinyl manufacturer-approved companies and for full or part-wraps it’s advisable to go to an Avery, 3M or Hexis-approved centre.