Vehicle Graphics Guide for Parks & Recreation

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Posted: July 1, 2018

As parks and recreation professionals, we rely on a mix of traditional and modern marketing methods to promote our services. While online marketing and social media certainly have its advantages, in-person marketing tactics such as vehicle graphics can ultimately make thousands of impressions on your target audience.  In this guide, we will explore everything that you need to know before deciding on vehicle graphics.

Wait. Who the heck am I to talk about car wraps? I'm a parks and recreation nerd, and that's what I know. BUT, my amazing hubby is a vehicle and graphics expert and has 10+ years in the industry. So I sat down with him for a few hours and asked him ALL the questions. We then worked together to create 5 pre-made vehicle graphics that you can actually buy and send to your sign shop for printing/install.  But before we get to all of that, let's talk about what you will need to know.

I'm passionate about parks and recreation making an impact BUT we can only do that if our communities become AWARE of the services we offer. If we can start to make more of an impression - and make our neighbors talk about what we do - then maybe our programs and parks will get more attention.

In this guide, we will talk about: 

  • Do's and Don'ts of Vehicle Graphics
  • Designing for Vehicle Graphics
  • Types of Printed Vehicle Graphics  
  • File Types for Printing
  • Materials for Vehicle Wraps
  • Lifespan of Vehicle Wraps
  • Cost of Vehicle Graphics 
  • Finding an Installer

 

 

Do's & Don'ts of Vehicle Graphics

Don't:

  • Try to design vehicle graphics yourself
  • Use a raster or pixelated images
  • Don't try to install it yourself
  • Don't expect the process to take overnight
  • Don't use RGB Colors

Do: 

  • Hire a designer (or use print ready graphics) that you trust
  • Use high quality vector images
  • Do hire a preferred wrap installer
  • Allow yourself about a month to complete the process
  • Use CMYK Colors

According to the Outdoor Advertising Association of America...

Designing for Vehicle Graphics

Unless you have done it before, chances are you should hire someone to create vehicle graphics for you.  Your local sign shop is a great start, but they may not have the expertise either.  There are nationwide companies that can design vehicle graphics, but already be sure to check their reviews and their portfolio.  My husband created a few designs that can be customized to your vehicle and sent to the a local printer.  Chances are, by calling around to local and regional sign companies, someone will be able to help you design vehicle graphics that suite your needs.

The design itself should be eye-catching.  Anyone should be able to guess that your vehicle represents what you are all about.  While you can choose to showcase the many amenities you have (say combining parks, pools, and a fitness center, you may be better off choosing one park, or one facility to showcase.  Fun slogans such as "Follow me to the park" or "Let's take a hike" may attract additional attention.  Good practice is to always include your organization's name, phone number, website, and even social media icons.  This gives passerby's a call-to-action: go find us on social media.  

Types of Vehicle Graphics 

There are three main types of vehicle graphics.  The way in which they are printed, cut, and applied differ.  They also have pros and cons based on their affordability, ease of install, and longevity.  Here is a basic overview:  

RTA Cut Graphics - RTA stands for "Ready to Apply."  These graphics cut out of single color vinyl, and are usually applied to get a message across without using any printed material. This type of vehicle graphics are going to be the cheapest, but do not provide the "POP" or "WOW Factor" that printed graphics do.

Partial Wrap - Partial Wraps are the best of both worlds. These graphics could cover anywhere from 25-75% of your vehicle. We like these wraps because they do not cover as much surface, which means over the long life-span of your wrap, it will have less places to fail or peel. [We'll talk more about the lifespan of a vehicle wrap below].This is the middle ground as far as cost goes.

Full Wrap - Full wraps are also printed on Warranted Materials, and can be designed to fit your specific needs. However, these wraps cover 100% of your vehicle. These wraps can be beneficial if your car body has seen better days, or the design you like does not blend in well with the original paint color.

File Types for Printing 

For any kind of printed signage including vehicle graphics you will want to use vector files the majority of the time. This will allow you to "Stretch" or "Shrink" the image as large or as small as you want without distorting the image.  

Additional Resources: 

File Format Overview

Vector vs Raster?  What's the Difference?

CMYK or Spot Color?  What should you use?

Materials for Vehicle Graphics

How do you know if your sign shop is using proper materials?
Like everything else, if you shop around and find that a shop is significantly lower than most other places you have gotten a quote it may be too good to be true. There are shops out there who try to push high quantity low quality low price vehicle graphics. If you are looking for something that is temporary and only need to last less than a year, this may be a good option. Otherwise, specify with your shop that they are using high quality vinyls such as 3M or Avery Car Wrap Specific Vin.

Lifespan of Vehicle Graphics

The answer to this question starts with making sure your Sign Shop is using good quality Material. If they are using a good outdoor UV Protected wrap vinyl, you can expect to have your Vehicle Graphics for 4 up to 7 years!  Companies such as 3M also offer warranties on their products which vary on longevity.  If working with a less quality product, the graphics may peel or fade within a few years.  Keep in mind that local climate also impacts the wraps.  Parking your vehicle in a covered lot and taking care of your vehicle will extend the life of the graphics.  

Cost of Vehicle Graphics

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Vehicle Graphics prices vary for many different reasons such as, how large your vehicle is, how much of your vehicle you plan on covering (partial or full), and where you are located in the country. A ballpark estimate of a fully printed, and installed wrap is somewhere around $8-$13/Sqft.  

Finding an Installer 

  • Search your area. <-- Using this link
  • Choose the "Preferred Installer" Badge. 
  • Review list of provided installers, and check Facebook, or other online 
reviews.

What about the installation process?

Provide at least one week notice when scheduling your installation. Expect for Installation to be done in a climate controlled facility. Expect your vehicle to be out of service for 1-2 days. Provide Design Draft of your Vehicle for quote and day of installation. Have your vehicle washed 24 Hrs before your installation.

Why should you use a preferred installer?

  • Trained and tested on various installation types and materials.
  • Installers are required to carry liability insurance
  • Business Practices regulated to maintain certification
  • Specialize in providing installation services not "an everything" shop

Conclusion


I hope that this guide has been helpful for you! There are many topics to cover within vehicle graphics, but I tried to compile only answers that were relevant for parks and recreation professionals. Did this help? What other questions do you have?

My husband put together some awesome vehicle graphic designs below that you can download and send to your local sign shop.  Send him an email at srdunlap08@gmail.com if you are interested and I'll pass the info onto him!

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