So, what do you need to know before your first fleet graphic? Fleet graphics are nothing new, but they may be new to you. Many businesses, large and small, have gotten by with identification decals – name, logo, contact, and DOT numbers. However, “gotten by” is the key phrase because fleet graphics should be and can be more, much more, than identification. They can be cost-effective advertising. So, are you ready to take advantage of the advertising opportunities of fleet graphics? If so, here’s what you need to know before your first fleet graphic.

What You Need to Know Before Your First Fleet Graphic

Share the Correct Information

“The easy answer to what does a vehicle graphic designer need to know about your vehicle before she or he begins the vehicle graphics design process is – everything! But that’s not true. They don’t need to know the size of the motor, the color of the interior, or your favorite radio station, but they pretty much need to know everything about the exterior of the vehicle from top to bottom.

Here are a few of the basics:

Know the Language – Vehicle Graphics Terms

“Whether it’s trying to communicate with a medical professional, home technician, attorney, or a vehicle graphic applicator, we’ve all experienced a breakdown in communication due to unfamiliar terminology. With that in mind, here are a few basic vehicle graphic terms.

Adhesive Vinyl – This is the material on which vehicle graphics are printed. There are hundreds of variations and levels of quality of adhesive vinyl. Therefore, it’s essential to know that not all adhesive vinyl is the same. Because choosing the wrong adhesive vinyl for the application can lead to problems.

Over lamination – This protects the adhesive vinyl graphic from ultraviolet rays, acid dew, and also some road debris. According to 3M in this Graphics solutions post, “It also provides excellent gloss and clarity of reflection, giving a “wet paint” look. And it is warranted by 3M when used with recommended 3M graphic films, printers, and inks – including its performance on horizontal surfaces, offering your customers peace of mind.” — Vehicle Graphics Terms Installers Want you to Know

Prepare the Surface of the Vehicle the Right way

Imagine that you have decals with contact information, or a company logo to install on your fleet vehicles. You’ve washed the cars or trucks and let them dry. Is there anything else you should do before applying the graphics? So, how important is prepping a vehicle for graphics installation?

“The biggest mistake is not prepping the surface,” says Jeff Stadelman. “It’s so important to have a clean surface to put the adhesives down on. That’s definitely the number one error.” No matter the substrate,­ glass or paint,­ and no matter the installation method ­wet or dry – if you do not clean the substrate properly then you will end up with a contaminated surface that hinders the performance of the adhesive.” — Preparing the surface. If you’d like to learn more check out this video  Prepping a Vehicle for Graphics Installation

Don’t Spend More than You Need to 

“I sat down with TKO Graphix national sales manager, Glenn Burris, and asked how customers could save money on vehicle graphics. Glenn has more than twenty years with TKO Graphix and has worked his way up through our print shop and installation. He knows what he’s talking about. One of our outstanding CSR’s overheard the conversation and added her input as well. So, would you like to know how to save money on vehicle graphics?” — 7 Ways to Save Money on Vehicle Graphics

Don’t Make These Common Mistakes

It’s easy to lose a design in the graphics when they become too busy and over complicated. Keep it simple and stay on message. There are basics to effective fleet graphic design, such as using legible fonts and good color contrast. This post explains it in more detail,  5 Things Vehicle Graphic Designers Want You to Know to Make Your Life Easier

Know How Long it will Take

“Typically, it takes two or three weeks to produce custom graphics; however, it depends on the size, quantity, detail, and production method. Here are some of the things that will affect the time of completion.” — How Long Does It Take to Do Vehicle Graphics Right?

Be Aware of Your Fleet Graphics Options

“So, what are the fleet graphics coverage options, and more importantly what’s your best option? The answer is … it depends. It depends on the message you want to send, the types of vehicles in your fleet, your budget, and more. However, it begins with knowing that your business needs fleet graphics.” Here are some of your options, FAQ: What Are My Fleet Graphics Coverage Options?

Understand How to Care for your Fleet Graphics

“Vehicle graphics have become an important part of advertising and branding. The condition of the graphics and how they look to potential customers, says a lot about a company or non-profit. Vinyl’s and adhesives have come a long way in the last few years, but the following precautions (pdf) from one of our graphics providers, 3M, should be taken to protect your investment. Here are a few tips on how to care for vinyl vehicle graphics.” This post goes into more detail on maintenance, How to Care for Vinyl Vehicle Graphics

Ask How Long the Fleet Graphics Will Last

“How long will your fleet graphics last? The answer is a lot depends on who you choose to provide your graphics. Using the best materials for the application. Hiring certified and experienced installers. Taking climate and color into consideration. And properly maintaining your fleet graphics can and will extend their life.” – If you want to learn more, click here, FAQ: How Long Will My Vehicle Wrap Last?

Really Proof the Layout Don’t just Sign off on it

Approving or proof checking a fleet graphics layout shouldn’t be a quick glance and then initial it procedure. It should be thorough and should involve everyone on your team that is part of the fleet graphics decision. You need to check that you gave the provider the correct vehicle information. Check the copy you don’t want it to say Chiefs when you meant Chefs. Look at your contact information, logo, and branded colors. Here’s more à How to Proof Your Vehicle Graphics Layout, so it Doesn’t Cost You Time and Money

Have a Plan

Know what message you want to share before you meet with a fleet graphics designer. Consider how many vehicles will be involved and the logistics of delivering them to installation teams. How long will the vehicle be off the road, and where will they be installed? Here’s a Fleet Graphics Planner to help you form a plan.

But wait! There’s more you need to know before your first fleet graphic

Know the warranty — What is the 3M MCS Warranty?

Ask about installer certificationHow to Find the Best Vehicle Graphics Installers

If you want to be ahead of the game, read this guide — How to Use Our FREE Fleet Graphics Guide

What Your Business Needs to Know Before Your First Fleet Graphic is … a Lot

Do you have a feel for what you need to know before your first fleet graphic? Are you ready to take your first step? Everything listed in this post may seem like a lot, and it is. But it’s what you need to know before your firsts fleet graphic. However, not following any one of these points could lead to disappointment and unneeded expense. But I do have good news. A reputable, long-standing, award-winning fleet graphic provider can lift the burden off your shoulders and walk you through every phase of your first fleet graphics adventure.

And … we just happen to know a fleet graphics provider that has been doing this for more than 35 years and wraps more than 50,000 vehicles per year. Want to guess who that is? Let us know if we can help you step into your first fleet graphic.

Contact Us or request a FREE quote!