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What Makes a Good Vehicle Wrap Design? This and More of Your Questions Answered for August

Plus, reminders on why it’s usually best to listen to the market.




What is the average square-footage price being charged for printing vinyl graphics and for [other] printing and installation?

This variation of “How much should I charge?” used to be covered by the old Signwriters Pricing Guide (last published in 2008). Signwriters would survey sign companies from around the country and then calculate average prices for various signwork. Reactions to the published prices ranged from, “I could never charge that much,” to, “If I charged that little, I’d go out of business.” Nevertheless, the guide remained popular, even “trusted” until its last edition, which was coinciding with improvements in estimating software at the time (now a part of larger sign-business software packages). Your takeaway: National averages might be useful for comparison, but regardless of any average or what’s being charged down the street, you should be pricing your work, based solely on your financial data, to include a target markup or gross profit. If your market demands low prices, obviously, reduce your costs as much as possible.

What makes a good vehicle wrap design?

An undeniable focus on the brand, according to Dan Antonelli, president and chief creative officer of KickCharge Creative (Washington, NJ), author of Building a Big Small Business Brand, and a frequent speaker at ISA Expos on the subject. He noted that few other advertising forms give the viewer such a short time to see the message: “If you can’t take everything away from the wrap going 40 mph, it’s useless.” Antonelli said a good wrap needs only these aspects: strong brand implementation, (sometimes) tagline messaging, a web address and (maybe) a phone number. “For small businesses trying to make an impact in their community, the message is always about the brand,” he said. “Bullet lists, which look more like shopping lists, have no place on a vehicle. This isn’t the Yellow Pages.” For a similar reason, Antonelli discourages the use of photos and making any additional modifications to the vehicle. “When we see something with impact — something that we can actually read and remember — it can’t help but stand out among the visual clutter.” Anything else is a distraction.

Is the customer always right?

From a business viewpoint, we think it’s a good idea to take the view that every customer service problem starts with you.

“Take extreme ownership,” as former Navy SEAL trainer and business book author Jocko Willink put it. But in reality, “the customer is always right” adage is poppycock. A more helpful saying is that the market is always right. When it decides you must change your pricing or business model or whatever, then obey. Or perish.

Are you answering all of the questions being sent in?

We’ve done our best so far, but we’re getting more questions than we can fit here, and some of them have been challenging to answer!

Starting this month, we’ll post all questions that we receive from surveys and the “Ask” email to There we’ll invite your fellow sign pros to “crowd source” the answers.


Want to see your questions featured in this department? Send your emails to:



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