Six Simple Rules

For making your designs stand out, from a leading brand and wrap designer
Dan Antonelli's six rules for making your wrap designs stand out.

You couldn’t swing a squeegee at the recent ISA Sign Expo without hitting cars and vans being wrapped in manufacturers’ booths, or teams engaged in wrap competitions, or even a “wrap business boot camp”. But for me, the most valuable hour of the show was the seminar led by KickCharge Creative (Washington, NJ) President and Chief Creative Officer Dan Antonelli, who spoke about, among other things, “six rules for more disruptive truck wraps.”

1. Start with a great brand

1. Start with a great brand

“The biggest reason most wrap designs fail is poor brand integration,” Dan said, “and this will doom a client’s ROI.” Your challenge is to make certain the client’s logo, the very center of the brand, will work across all applications: signage, website, uniforms, everything, as well as truck wraps (see No. 6). If this means insisting a customer changes their logo, so be it. That may not be easy, but you won’t be doing anyone a favor by slapping their lousy logo on the side of a van.

2. Avoid using photos

2. Avoid using photos

Got a client who wants to include a picture of his kid dressed as a cute repair person? Resist! “Photos don’t usually represent brands,” Dan said, “and act as a crutch for poor branding.” He finds that though photos can sometimes work for nationwide businesses, they become quickly dated and stale for small and local businesses. They also present design challenges such as requiring glows and outlines to overlay copy, which are also to be avoided.

3. Limit your copy

3. Limit your copy

Keep the wrap design focused on the brand – which has more to do with the logo and colors than any copy. Avoid bullet lists. “Web, phone, logo, tagline. That’s it!” Dan said. “No ‘We Accept Credit Cards’… oh, you do? Or ‘Free Estimates’… yeah, that’s why I would call this plumber,” he joked. Also, no Facebook, Twitter or Instagram icons, and no QR codes. “When was the last time you saw someone actually pointing their camera to read a QR code, anywhere?” Dan asked. “Much less from a truck on the move.”

4. Design to stand out

4. Design to stand out

Be disruptive. What this requires, in part, is research into what your client’s competitors’ trucks look like. They’ve got red and blue locked up? Fine, those are the most popular colors in truck wrap design and therefore do not stand out. Instead of red and blue, how about orange and teal? No one else is doing that color combo, and that’s the magic. Then, reduce your design to its simplest, most basic form. “Supergraphics make for an easy-to-discern message,” Dan said. Try to include a supergraphic element in the design, typically an element of the brand. For Dan’s designs, this often comes in the form of a mascot.

5. Be simple and obvious

5. Be simple and obvious

Remember that your client’s potential customer forms a first impression of a business within a couple of seconds of seeing a wrap. If you have done all of the items above, then your design should be simple and obvious, which are good in this instance. You don’t want people to have to think too hard about what your client does. “Is that van for a roofer, a garage door company, or a contractor?” Dan asked of one photo on the seminar screen. And don’t let imagery obscure the message, he added. The design should reinforce the brand; slight adjustments can still maintain the brand while being impactful.

6. Design for a fleet

6. Design for a fleet

A wrap that looks awesome on a Sprinter van might not translate so well to a pickup. “This is one example why photos don’t work,” Dan said. “So ask, first, if your client has other vehicles to wrap.” If so, striping elements can convey a fleet-like appearance. Keep all the vehicles in the fleet in mind as you are developing the elements of design for such customers: the logo, supergraphic, color choices, website, phone, logo and tagline.

Signs of the Times June 2019

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