Previously we posted 6 Keys to Vehicle Graphic Design. Today’s post will take a look at vehicle graphic design from the other side — 10 reasons your vehicle graphics suck or what NOT to do. We’ve all seen vehicle graphics that made us stop and say “What the what!” or shake our heads in disbelief, or wonder what the heck the indecipherable hodgepodge on the side of a box truck was. And without realizing it, we ignore vehicle graphics that make little impact, which may not be as bad as those that are so unfortunate they discredit the company, but its not good. The best answer is for your vehicle graphics to stand out, but for the right reasons. Here are 10 reasons your vehicle graphics suck.

10 Reasons Your Vehicle Graphics Suck

1. You tried to do too much

KISS (keep it simple stupid) is critical in vehicle graphic design. The 5-second rule for vehicle graphics is this — a prospect has 5 seconds to recognize your brand, understand a call to action, and find your contact information. That’s all the time you should expect. Trying to share too much information becomes confusing. but it’s just the first of 10 reasons your vehicle graphics suck.

2. You used the wrong material

Adhesive vinyl for vehicle wraps isn’t one size all. There are lower end products as well as vinyl’s designed for varied applications. “Using an inexpensive low-end product can cost more in the long run. Calendared vinyl, which is mixed when created, is less elastic and doesn’t conform to contours as well as cast vinyl, which is rolled out like dough during manufacture.”– Can I Wrap my Leased Vehicle?

3. You tried to DIY

Whether it’s DIY design, fabrication, or installation, vehicle graphic advertising is too important for the inexperienced to attempt on their own. Fleet graphics aren’t something you can watch a tutorial on YouTube and then have at it. Every mistake made in design, production, and installation reflects poorly on your organization. And believe me, it’s not as simple as it looks — a lot can go wrong.

4. You got away from the corporate brand

If you have corporate colors, a logo, even taglines (if they’re not too complicated or long) then use them. Don’t reinvent the wheel because it’s a fleet vehicle. The car or truck should match your brand, not compete with it. The vehicle should be immediately recognizable as belonging to your brand.

5. You don’t stand out

It’s true, vehicle graphics are best when they’re simple. Too much and it becomes confusing, but that doesn’t mean you don’t want to stand out. A vehicle wrap can stand out without being overbearing. “Do you know what makes your organization unique? If so, do your vehicle graphics share that message? Or are your vehicle graphics little more than identification? If that’s all they are, they aren’t going to stand out on the crowded streets.” — How to Make Vehicle Graphics Stand Out from the Crowd

6. Incomplete and inaccurate vehicle information

Using the wrong design templates and not measuring the vehicle can lead to graphics that don’t fit the vehicle. So, what does a designer need to know about your vehicle? A lot.

“This includes the make, model, color, options, and add-on equipment of the car or truck. One of the best ways to help a graphic designer serve you and meet your needs, as well as your expectations, is to furnish the designer with accurate and complete specifications in a timely manner. For example, to say you have a 2018 Ford F150 isn’t enough information. The F150 is available in at least a dozen packages from XL, XLT, and Lariat to the Platinum. They’re available in regular cab, extended cab, two-door, four-door, and with multiple options. One graphic design will not fit all the variations of the 2018 F150.” — What Does a Graphic Designer Need to Know about My Vehicle?

7. Not thinking in 3 dimensions

“The best practice is to hire an experienced vehicle graphics designer. Most reputable vehicle graphics providers, including us, offer design. I recall a race car design fail. We told them it wouldn’t work but they were unconvinced. The design was submitted by an advertising agency, they were experienced designers and they were good at it.

However, they weren’t experienced in vehicle graphic design. There’s a big difference. We printed a mock up of the design to show them why it wouldn’t work. The design was primarily an image of their product. On a two-dimensional screen it looked perfect. However, when the design was applied to the car around curves and angles you couldn’t tell what it was. If you’re considering a car or truck wrap design — hire a pro.” — 5 Keys to Vehicle Graphic Design

8. Too small

“It’s generally accepted that stationary signs can be seen, when unhindered, from set distances. For example, ADAAG Guidelines state that 3-inch letters may be seen up to 25 feet away and 6-inch letters 35 feet or more. But what happens if the “sign” is moving at 40 MPH on the side of a fleet vehicle? The USSC (United States Sign Council) uses a formula to determine the optimum signage square footage required for a sign to be seen by moving cars. VRT (viewer reaction time) + MPH/800 = recommended square footage for a stationary sign. This will vary by road complexity. But what if the buying public and the sign are both moving? It’s complicated, but here are a few keys to consider.” — What’s the Best Font Size for Vehicle Graphics?

9. Poor Copy Placement

“Are the graphics placed where they need to be? For example, is contact information visible on all sides of the vehicle? Every side of the vehicle should be shown on the layout and then proofed individually.” Also, is the content what you want and is it grammatically correct? A misspelled word or misplaced apostrophe can ruin a vehicle graphic and hurt your brand. I saw a sign the other day that omitted the last digit of the business’s phone number. I wonder who proofed that layout.” — How to Proof Your Vehicle Graphics Layout

Poor placement, such as how letters match up when the sliding door on your van is open. Would you like to see a few examples? Some of these are really funny.  35 Unfortunate Vehicle Mistakes Will Have You Laughing at Dinguses

10. Damaged graphics and non-maintained vehicles

Keeping damaged and faded graphics beyond their lifetime speaks poorly of any organization. “Recently while commuting to work, I was stopped behind a local retailer’s delivery truck. The retailer is marketed to an upscale niche, and their brick and mortar outlets are well-designed, tastefully decorated, and impeccably maintained. They offer excellent service, customer follow-up, and after-market training. The box truck I was stopped behind sent a different message. It shouted, “WE ARE SECOND-RATE!” When it comes to vehicle graphics a bad message is worse than no message.” — Vehicle Graphics a Bad Message is Worse Than No Message

Ice cream van with old faded graphics

Did You Get the Message?

There you have it, 10 reasons your fleet graphics suck and how to avoid them. Actually there are many  more reasons your vehicle graphics suck when you start combining these 10. We’ve seen vehicle with three or four of these mistakes on one car or truck. Ouch.

If you want your fleet to stand out but for the right reasons follow these ten points. If you do you’ll be on the right track. Because nobody wants to have fleet graphics that suck representing their organization on the road. Hopefully, this post sends our message loud and clear, because we see far too many bad messages being displayed on company vehicles. If you’d like to send the right message, work with a pro. We speak your language. Contact us, and if you’re ready to move forward  you can request a quote today!

Photo by Randy Laybourne on Unsplash