Wraps Worth Stealing
In the movie, Zoolander, Ben Stiller’s title character is the world’s most successful model, having honed a series of signature modeling gazes over the years, from Le Tigre to Blue Steel to his latest, Magnum. The joke is that every “look” is identical. Meanwhile, in the real-life Phoenix metro area, Blue Steel Security Services has also captured a look that local residents recognize and like. “I regularly hear, ‘Oh, I’ve seen your cars,’” said Mark Coxen, chief operations officer for Blue Steel. “I can’t think of another security company in the area with vehicles that stand out as much.” And every car in their fleet does not look alike.
AN EYE FOR VISIBILITY
“I’m pretty sure there’s a lot more to life than being really, really, ridiculously good looking,” if I may quote Derek Zoolander. “And I plan on finding out what that is” – or more in my case, how Blue Steel achieved their look. The shop behind the wraps is azpro (Avondale, AZ), and after passing by azpro’s shop many times, a representative of Blue Steel walked in one day. “After the first wrap we completed, they supplied us with a new logo and we created the rest of the design concept around that,” said Tom Radz, marketing specialist at azpro. “We were given free reign, as only the logo was submitted with no further instructions or directions.” The main design element features the company’s new “eye” icon overlaying what looks like polished and bolted steel on the hood of the car, with bright, electric-blue lettering underneath.
Blue Steel was interested in both full and partial wraps for a total of four vehicles: two Kia Souls and two Dodge Chargers. The partial wrap on one Kia Soul was done to be more cost-effective and to save the hood from the double whammy of the Southwestern sun beating down from above and the engine heating from below. In addition to printed wrap vinyl, azpro suggested adding Clear Focus window perforation film, on which they printed the eye, company name and slogan, “Always a watchful eye” to blend into the different-shaded, blue-shapes background. Using Photoshop and Illustrator, azpro’s design team produced a proof within two days. “We got the proofs, liked them and ran with it,” Coxen said. “There may have been a minor adjustment or two, but essentially [they] nailed it the first time.” For output, azpro chose 3M IJ180Cv3-10 Gloss White Vinyl and printed it on their HP Latex 3000, driven by Caldera RIP software. They added 3M Scotchcal 8520 Matte over-laminate by means of their Graphic Finishing Partners 563TH laminator.
The four vehicles were wrapped at different times, the installation lasting 1-2 days for each. This is part of azpro’s typical one-workweek turn-around. As a large, high-volume shop, azpro relies on PrintIQ workflow software. “Without it, we cannot do what we do,” Radz said. The shop honors 3M’s warranty – in Arizona they are only warrantied for a year due to the high temperatures and constant sunlight – however, with proper care, these wraps can last anywhere from 2-5 years, Radz said.
IN ON THE JOKE
“When we began building the Blue Steel Brand, a cornerstone of our program was having vehicles that would stand out from the other ‘security/police’ type vehicles commonly associated with security companies,” Coxon said. “Our fleet rolls 24/7 and [the wraps have] had significant impact on our growth and visibility in the market. The fully wrapped Dodge Charger gets the most attention and is complimented almost everywhere it goes.”
Now for the big question we’ve all been waiting for: Did Zoolander inspire the name for Blue Steel Security Services? “We didn’t actually name the company,” Coxon said. (Aww!) “The original founders from whom we bought Blue Steel named it. Had it been us, we probably would have picked something different. That being said, Michelle [at Blue Steel] is extremely talented at branding and since the Zoolander thing was out there, we embraced it and it became part of our identity. We’re firm believers that the sillier something is, the more people are likely to remember it – and thus far it’s worked.”