Commercial Vehicle Lettering


Doing Vehicle Wraps Right

Vehicle Lettering in South Windsor, CT

What goes into doing vehicle wraps right? Branding, creativity, science, art, quality material, and technical know-how go into a quality mobile marketing project.

Content for this “Doing Vehicles Wraps Right” article come, in part, from our vehicle graphics and wraps 101/201 series:

Let’s first review the “Why” part of a vehicle wrap or vehicle graphics project.

The simple reason is that the visibility for your brand through this type of mobile marketing is high.  The longer your work vehicle is on the road or parked in a highly visible area, the more people who will be introduced or reminded of your business and brand.

Simply review the statistics for car or truck wraps and you will understand the power behind mobile marketing.  Read our previous article “Why Wrap Your Vehicle” to read the amazing stats.

vehicle graphics in West Hartford CT

The Technical Side of Vehicle Wraps and Graphics

There are two types of vinyl material for vehicle wraps: Cast and Calendered

“Cast” refers to how the vinyl is made – vinyl material is mixed, put onto a casting sheet, and then run through a series of ovens.  “Calendered” also refers to how the vinyl is made – which is similar to mixing and rolling out pie dough.

The advantages of each type of vinyl material are:
Cast vinyl material for vehicle wraps CT

– Low shrinkage
– Higher durability
– Can be very thin
– Strong pigment performance & UV absorbers
– Can be manufactured in smaller batches



Calendered vinyl for vehicle wraps CTCalendered
– Modern calendered are thinner, glossier and have less shrinkage than in the past
– Greater production capacity for lower costs
– Stiff/thicker means easier handling
– Strong performance on flat, or simple and moderate curves
– Strong variety of colors and gloss levels
– Shrinkage can be as low as 2-3%
– Film formulation improves abrasion resistance

Deep Dive into Vinyl – What is vinyl?

Vinyl material for vehicle wraps CTIt is simply plastic. Specifically, polyvinylchloride (PVC) polymer – by nature, relatively rigid.

Other ingredients added are plasticizer (for flexibility), pigment (for color), other additives (UV absorbers, heat stabilizers, fillers and processing aids).

For pressure sensitivity adhesive films, a choice is made between polymeric and monomeric plasticizers, which greatly determine the durability of vinyl.

Cast Vinyl Manufacturing

This is how cast vinyl is manufactured.

Materials are added to a mixing churn (“bowl”) in a predetermined order while being mixed at a specific speed for a specific amount of time.

The liquid mixture, called “organosol”, is then precisely cast onto a moving casting sheet, and then processed through a series of ovens to evaporate solvents.

The film is then spooled onto large diameter rolls for an adhesive coating.

Calendered Vinyl Manufacturing

Calendered vinyl is manufactured similarly to cast vinyl with some important differences.

Similar to mixing and rolling out pie dough, the material is formulated with similar raw materials as cast vinyl. The materials are kneaded in an extruder, then put through big heated steel rollers to form the vinyl into thin sheets. This process is called, “calendering”.

The mixed materials are called “the melt”. The big steel rollers are heated up to 350 degrees through which the melt is passed through. The embossing station is where different pattern and gloss levels are applied to the film.  The film then gets cooled and sent to the last process stage, winding.


The Design Process

Colors, of course, are vital.  Matching colors on a wrap to your brand’s colors applied to different media can be challenging and should be carefully reviewed.  Read our article, “Color Matching“, for more information about colors applied on different materials and textures.

A good vehicle wrap or graphics designer will take into consideration whether the project is a full or partial vehicle wrap, the shape of the vehicle and, of course, the condition of the vehicle.  The shape of the vehicle is important because coordinating how design elements transfer to the curves and angles of a car or truck will impact the appearance of the wrap.

Poor vehicle wrap design and application on a car


For example, if you have straight lines or geometric shaps that look right on a page, they may look distorted when applied.

There are a huge amount of variables to consider when designing for a vehicle wrap.

If you are going to consider using your web designer or logo designer, they must have experience designing for vehicle wraps.

The design process must also consider the marketing side of the project.  For example:

– The design should be eye-catching, and perhaps a dash of provocative can be applied to the design to really stand out.
– Adding strategic and succinct messaging. This is mobile marketing, and people will not be able to read verbose messages.
– Make sure your brand is clearly differentiated
– Less is sometimes more. Is it appropriate and more effective for your business and brand to have a partial wrap or just a door-side graphic with your logo, business name, and contact information?  This depends on your business and brand, and what stage your business is in.  A good marketer should be brought into the fold if you are unsure.
– Call to Action (CTA): You nailed the design, the colors, the logo and the tagline! What about the action you want people to take after seeing your mobile marketing?  Do you want them to email, call or visit your website?  This is a critical part and is part of what marketers refer to as your “sales funnel”.  Again, if you are unsure, reach out to a qualified marketer.

Applying the Material

We discussed earlier the two types of vinyl materials.  Understanding the shape and areas of the vehicle are important in choosing the correct material and adhesive material.

Poor vehicle wrap application showing bubbles and creases

Cutting into corners or around objects requires the right tools and also the experience to apply the material properly.

This process should be done by a qualified installer, ideally, one who has access to a climate controlled environment.

Using the right materials matters to the quality finished project, but it can also help with costs.  Although costs are important, in the long run, quality material and application should be the primary focus because the longevity of the wrap offsets up-front costs.

A simple illustration:  If you spent $2000 on a wrap that lasts 2 years, you spent $1,000/year on the project.  However, if you went for quality and spent $3,000 on a vehicle wrap, and the wrap lasted 5 years, your yearly cost would be only $600/year.

Hard-costs are one factor to consider.  The quality variable also shows up in the look of the vehicle wrap project.  No matter what amount you invest, if it’s a sub par and ineffective design, then whatever amount you invested is wasted.



There’s a lot that goes into a quality vehicle wrap or vehicle graphics project.  The good news is you don’t need to be an expert – just contact an expert!

The argument for doing mobile marketing is overwhelmingly in favor of it.  It’s a strong media for marketing your business.

– 91% of people surveyed notice vehicle graphics (ATA)
– a vehicle can generate from 30,000 to 70,000 daily impressions (Traffic Audit Bureau for Media Measurement)
– a $3,500 wrap can generate similar effects of $130,000 in advertising dollars (3M)
– wraps improve name recognition by over 15 times.

Your first decision is whether or not you’re ready for a vehicle wrap.  The next decision after that is to contact an experienced shop like ours, who knows what it takes to do a vehicle wrap right.


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