What color should I wrap my business vehicle is a good question. Because color is often more important to successfully sharing a message on fleet graphics than any other aspect of vehicle wrap design. When choosing colors for your vehicle graphics, it may not be what color, but how colors of both the vehicle and your graphics contrast. Using poorly contrasted colors reduces the impact of vehicle advertising. Poorly chosen hues, designs that hide the message, and colors that don’t match your brand waste your marketing dollars. One should first consider the brand, logo, and vehicle colors, and then how they contrast with the color of the vehicles or the background of the graphic design.
I asked Glenn Burris, executive national account manager at TKO Graphix what he might add about color, he had this to share, “Regarding color, the main issue we have is clients do not assign or supply PMS colors with their project. If they supply a CMYK art file without PMS colors there is no way to guarantee a consistent color from one print machine to the next. For example, if you have artwork set up for CMYK and print it on 10 different printing presses, you will get 10 different colors.”
What Are PMS, RBG, and CMYK?
PMS (Pantone Matching System) is a color matching system used by graphic designers. “The Pantone Matching System is a system of thousands of numbered swatches. Most corporate colors, in a logo for example, are identified with a number from this system. You’ll often hear it referred to as a PMS number. Pantone colors are also called “spot” colors. This is similar to picking paint at the hardware store to paint your walls: You refer to swatches, choose by number and then the color is pre-mixed before application. ” — CMKY. PMS, and RGB Color Systems Defined
“When you think about color, you might remember Roy G. Biv from when you were in school. (Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet). This was a nifty acronym that represented Isaac Newton’s discovery that color is intrinsic to light. While his reasons of choosing those seven specific colors remain a mystery, his legacy lives on with color modes.
Additive Color. Used in electronic displays like computer monitors, TV’s, digital camera’s, etc. It provides a wider color gamut than CMYK. It’s comprised of the colors red, green, and blue. Since RGB is emitted light, when you combine (add) all 3 colors together, the result is pure white. If you’re designing a website or anything for a digital screen, RGB is the better option, as it gives you a wider and more vivid color selection.
Subtractive color. Used in printed products. Originated from printing processes that required individual plates for each color laid down separately. It’s comprised of cyan, magenta, yellow, and black. The “K” is black, the letter “K” stands for “Key” which included “key details” in the artwork like shadows. If you combined cyan, magenta, and yellow—the result would be a very dark brown. Black is added to ensure a true black is available. Because it’s printed, the material absorbs (subtracts) wavelengths of the light being reflected. You should use CMYK when designing print.” — TKO Tech Talk Color Modes
The following quote was written about color contrast on the web but it holds true for vehicles as well. “Simply put, contrast is the difference between two colors. On a web page, the amount of contrast required varies with different parts of the page. You usually want a high contrast between text and its background color. But too high contrast between design elements might give an unsettled and messy impression. Black and white create the highest contrast possible.” — COTW.
So, What Color Should I Wrap my Business Vehicle?
Combining uncomplimentary colors detracts from the appearance of the vehicle. For example, a dark vehicle with a dark background and dark text — will be hard to read. Green on a red background, red on blue, or yellow on white, all contrast poorly. This makes your brand hard to see. When ordering a new vehicle to be wrapped, it may be best to choose a contrasting color, such as a white vehicle, if your logo and lettering are blue. This way, you can get a partial wrap, which is less costly than a complete vehicle wrap. If your existing vehicle and your logo are non-contrasting colors, a full wrap may provide good contrast.
Another method is to outline letters and logos in contrasting colors; if your vehicle and logo are both blue, outline the logo and text in white.
Placing text on a busy background could make the copy unreadable. If the background is a crazy quilt of digital images, the text can be lost in them. Another consideration is how colors are perceived.
Color Mode Equals Mood
“Color has been used as a catalyst for affecting human mood and behavior in marketing for centuries. Today, similar principals of color psychology are being utilized across the web to insight interaction and emotion from onlookers and consumers alike.” — Colors have specific meanings. For example, common perceptions can be: pink is feminine, yellow is cheerful, red is bold, and blue is tranquil. The wrong color can change the message.
“Different colors have different psychological effects on consumers – red encourages appetite, blue provides a sense of security, green stimulates harmony, orange promotes enthusiasm, purple is associated with royalty, and so on.” — The Psychology of Color in Marketing
“An easy example would be a muscle car wrapped in pink. The color makes it a feminine car, which is okay if it’s for Susan G. Komen, or if the vehicle is driven by a woman, but probably not the best color for Bubba to take to the local drag strip on Saturday night. Another example — gray, a conservative color, would probably not be the best fit for cars promoting entertainers. Be sure the color fits the purpose and the eye.” — How to Make Your Car Wrap Pop.
The impact of color
According to Psychology Today , “In an appropriately titled study called Impact of Color in Marketing, researchers found that up to 90% of snap judgments made about products can be based on color alone (depending on the product) … Color is ubiquitous and is a source of information. People make up their minds within 90 seconds of their initial interactions with either people or products. About 62‐90 percent of the assessment is based on colors alone.”
What color should you wrap your business vehicle? The best answer is before wrapping your organization’s vehicle, consider colors, how they contrast, and how they complement one another. This checklist might help and save you pain down the road (pun intended).
- What are our brand colors?
- How will our brand colors contrast with the vehicles?
- Do the colors compliment each other?
- Do the colors contrast well?
- Should we outline letters, logos, images, or all of the above?
- What psychological effect will the colors have?
- Are we using PMS colors?
- Do the colors send the message we want to send?
If we can help you with your vehicle graphic color selection, if you have questions, or if you’d like some color ideas contact us, because we’d be tickled pink to help you.