What Do Your Vehicles "Say" About Your Company?

Advances in vinyl technologies provide greater printability, durability, ease of installation.

There’s hardly a commercial vehicle on the road these days without huge logos, advertisements or even biblical admonitions plastered all over it. Fleets have been using their vehicles as a media for advertisement for a long time. With the arrival of vehicle wraps – a vinyl “skin” stretched to completely or partially cover a vehicle – this form of advertising has grown to include vehicles of all shapes and sizes.

Nonetheless, trucks still maintain the majority of the mobile advertising market. Some companies want to use their fleets as a means to increase recognition of their own brand, while others might advertise other companies as a means of additional revenue. Whatever reason there may be, there are several considerations for fleet managers to consider before they convert their vehicles to rolling billboards.


Back in the day, the only way to brand a fleet was with traditional decals. Logos and wording were generally monochrome and not large in size. Each decal had to be cut to shape and then applied to the vehicle. These decals had to be applied to clean surfaces at specific temperatures. Air bubbles under the decal were a problem that could not be dealt with easily.

Removal of decals was expensive because once the decals were applied they were not easy to remove.

This began to change beginning in the early 1970s when companies, such as 3M (www.3m.com), pioneered improved adhesive technology allowing decals to be applied using pressure. This made the decals much easier to handle and to place properly. Then, in 1999, 3M invented a feature in its wraps that allowed air bubbles to escape easily. What has resulted is an explosion of wraps being used for marketing purposes.

Wraps have quite a few advantages over decals. They can be put over curved surfaces and applied more easily. Wraps lend themselves to large printed images and are not terribly expensive to have. Pricing tends to be between two to four dollars a square foot to install, and five to 20 dollars a square foot for the material itself.

One of the leading vinyl wraps available is the No. 480Cv3 with 8548G over laminate available from 3M, says the company. These wraps benefit from ease of installation in wide temperature ranges and in error-free application.

Removal is better than traditional wraps, because it is stronger and tends not to tear. Plus, it is more environmentally friendly than other wraps available up to this time, requiring much less solvents to make and no PVCs.

Some other vehicle wraps cannot be put on very quickly or easily, however. The vehicles need to be clean, dry and above 55 degrees F for installation. Depending on the installers and the size of the pieces of wrap used, the process can take several days.

Traditional wraps look great over smooth and curved surfaces, but can visually look strange when put over a side of a vehicle where rivet marks are apparent.


Since 1998, Epic Media Group (www.epicmediagroup.com), has been taking vinyl wraps in an entirely different direction. Instead of adhering large sheets of vinyl to the side of a vehicle, the company has been achieving the same wrap effect by installing a frame on the outside of the trailer and “zipping” a flexible sheet of vinyl into it. This flexible vinyl system is called Kwik Zip.

There are some pros to using flexible vinyl versus a traditional wrap. Installation is much quicker and not dependent upon weather conditions or location, so weather is a non-issue. Furthermore, since the vinyl does not need to adhere to any surface, the installation is relatively quick - usually 30 minutes or less per side for both the frames and the vinyl.

Another benefit is the overall quality of the image. When this flexible sheet of vinyl wrap is stretched over the side of the vehicle, a very thin air pocket exists between the vinyl and the actual side of the vehicle. What the driving public sees is a smooth and seamless image without any rivet marks, ribs or dents to interfere with it. Since the vinyl is “zipped” into the frame as tight as a drum, it does not flap in the breeze. The visual effect of this is that of a billboard instead of a banner.

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