Maybe the title of this post should have been how to save money on vehicle graphics without cutting back on quality; lowering quality certainly is a way to save money. But that strategy may lead to problems, which can cost more than the savings. Most of us have learned that the hard way. So, don’t cut corners. However, there are legitimate methods to reduce vehicle graphics cost that almost anyone can use.

How to Save Money on Vehicle Graphics

1. Do You Really Need a Full Wrap?

That’s the buzz word in vehicle graphics today, wrap. Everyone is thinking wrap, but not everyone needs a full wrap. There are several options depending on your needs and budget. The term, “wrap” is liberally used to define adhesive vinyl graphics. But a full wrap is only one of the options available. Knowing the options helps you determine what’s best for your needs. How to save money on vehicle graphics begins with knowing your options.

how to save money on vehicle graphics

One day while walking through our installation bay I saw a truck getting decals and met the owners, Ernie and Isaac. I told them it was smart (and less expensive) to use contrasting color decals on their dark vehicles. They shared that TKO Graphix COO, Denny Smith, had advised them of this and that’s why they decided on using spot graphics or decals on their dark vehicles instead of fully wrapping them. In their case, decals would be cost-effective and as good for marketing as a more expensive full wrap. The result was impactful without needing a full wrap. See for yourself — 2 Brothers Pressure Washing — Effective Vehicle Graphics without Breaking the Bank

2. Order the Right Vehicle Color

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve seen a brand spanking new vehicle come in for a full wrap when they may not have needed the entire vehicle covered. For example, if your logo is dark blue it will not show well against a dark background. By ordering a light-colored vehicle, the logo may be applied as a decal rather than a wrap. Most vehicle graphics are a combination of colors. A partial wrap will include the color of the car or truck. The key is for the font to contrast well with the background otherwise the message is lost.

3. Think About Your Artwork

Artwork costs money. At TKO, our artwork is reasonably priced, but that doesn’t mean it should be spent thoughtlessly. Consider what you really want, and what all interested parties want, before the design process begins. Too often a designer will spend hours developing a graphics layout, from information sent from the customer’s marketing team, to learn the CEO was never consulted and doesn’t like the concept. Start overs cost money.

When submitting any artwork to your graphics provider, be sure to provide all images, links, fonts, or additional information used within the print files to ensure nothing is lost in translation. For accurate color matching, it’s best to provide Pantone colors for your artwork. If you have more questions about what type of files are acceptable, review our Artwork Submission Guidelines.

4. Give Your Graphics Provider all the Information They Need

How to save money on vehicle graphics includes supplying your provider with the correct information. Providing your graphics company with information when they need it can save time, trips, and money. For example, telling a  designer it’s a Ford F150 isn’t enough information. The designer needs to know the year, model, style, and color to design a proper graphic. Providing complete information avoids multiple trips needed to measure and inspect the vehicle. Trips cost dollars. Here’s the information that covers most of what a vehicle graphics provider will need from you.

5. Use the Right Material for the Job

The best bet here is to let the graphics provider fit the material to your needs. Not long ago we passed on a bid because the customer wanted a cheaper material another company had recommended. The problem was the material is cheaper because it’s not intended or warrantied to conform around curves. They’ll have problems down the road. Fixing problems cost money.

Vinyl begins as Poly Vinyl Chloride (PVC), then additives create the vinyl film used to wrap vehicles. Plasticizers are added for flexibility, pigment is added for color, then UV absorbers and heat stabilizers are added to create a vinyl that will conform to a vehicle’s shape and withstand the elements. Cast, or “premium vinyl,” is a process similar to making a cake. Ingredients are mixed and solvents are added, then poured into a casting sheet, which is baked, allowing the solvents to evaporate. This process makes a very flexible, thin, shrink-resistant material. Another manufacturing option is the calendar or economy process. In this method, ingredients are mixed, but solvents aren’t added. Like pizza dough, the vinyl is rolled and stretched into the desired shape. This material is thicker and having been stretched, it tends to shrink.  FAQ: Are There Different Vinyl Graphics Materials?

6. Consider Where to Place the Graphics

Saving money is great but not if it reduces the effectiveness of your fleet graphics. So, whether it’s a full wrap or decals, share your message on the doors, hood, and rear. If possible avoid seams, mirrors, bumpers, and add-on after-market equipment. Are the graphics placed where they need to be? For example, is contact information visible on all sides of the vehicle?

One way to be certain is to check your graphic layout. Every side of the vehicle should be shown on the layout and then proofed individually. For more information on this, read our blog, How to Proof Your Vehicle Graphics Layout 

7. Don’t Look for the Lowest Prices, Find the Best Value

How to save money on vehicle graphics may not be going with the lowest price. Too often the lowest price is also the worst service. Hire a pro to design, print, and install your vehicle graphics because how they look reflects on your organization. Here’s a story about The High Cost of Going Cheap.

A small business owner brought his work vehicle to TKO to inquire about repair, which had a faded graphic installed by another graphics provider. He brought it to us because the graphics provider who completed the installation was no longer in business. Unfortunately, the material they used had a very limited warranty. It covered fading, but did not cover removal or installation of the failed graphic. The result for the small business owner who came to us was not good. The choices? Live with the faded vehicle wrap, which makes the company look unprofessional, or spend the money to replace the wrap. Since a cheaper permanent material was used the cost to remove the damaged wrap wasn’t cheap. Like many things, the result of going cheap was costing more.

QuickBooks, the international accounting software company, shared the following advice in their local marketing article, Are car wraps a good investment for your small business? “Because printing technology is better than ever, wrap installations are more accessible than ever. However, there has also been a rise in inexperienced people setting up fleet wrap shops. It’s a good idea to check a wrap provider’s credentials and reviews before engaging in business.”

How to Save Money on Vehicle Graphics

Okay, we’ve shared  how to save money on vehicle graphics, but how much can you save? It depends on the number and size of vehicles as well as the graphics, but it can be substantial. Whether you’re considering vehicle graphics for a fleet of 500 vehicles or three service trucks — who doesn’t want to save money?

Before you order a new vehicle consider what color best fits your advertising needs. Keep in mind you may not need a full wrap to brand your vehicles effectively. Get unanimous approval on artwork and layout before you okay it. Don’t go cheap with materials, design, or installation because it usually ends up costing you more in the long run. And use a qualified provider that knows what they’re doing. That’s how to save money on vehicle graphics.

If you’d like to learn more about saving money on fleet graphics contact us, we’ll help you save your hard earned dollars.

TKO Graphix is a national fleet and vehicle graphics company helping customers since 1985. We provide full-service graphics solutions such as design, digital printing, screen printing, installation and removal of fleet graphics, vehicle graphics, and commercial graphics.