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How To Avoid 5 Common Vehicle Wrap Design Mistakes


vehicle wrap designI often drive by a particular van wrap that always has me shaking my head in confusion. On the one hand, this van wrap is doing a lot of things right. The wrap is parked near a busy road, which allows the it to act auxiliary signage for the business. The van wrap also uses large, easy to read letters to announce the name and function of the business. Unfortunately, the wrap is also incredibly ugly. The color choice is garish, the bright verbiage wars with a seriously busy patterned background, and the smaller print is hard to read as you whiz by at 50 mph.

The bad design choices detract from the message and impact of the wrap. Every time I drive by, the wrap seems like such a waste of potential. So today, in the name of the ugly van wrap, we’re discussing 5 vehicle wrap design mistakes that you can easily avoid.

  1. The vehicle wrap doesn’t fit the car. Misaligned seams and graphics that cover door handles and gas caps may seem like an installation problem, but often times, poor fit can be traced back to the designer. How can you make sure that your vehicle wrap design will look just as good on the car as it does on the computer screen?

    First of all, use a good template. When we say good, we don’t mean free. Shelling out a little extra money for a quality vehicle wrap template, can save you and your installers a lot of extra time and frustration in the long run. Another tip is to try and get a look at the actual car before you send the design to print. This can alert you to any custom modifications or problem areas that your design might have to account for.
  2. The vehicle wrap design is too busy. When you’re working with a larger canvas like a box truck wrap or a cargo van wrap, it might be tempting to throw lots of extra information and offers into your design. This is a bad idea. Vehicle wraps need to be simple enough to be read while speeding down the high way or parked in front of a job site. How do you keep your vehicle wrap design from getting too crowded?

    Take a step back and ask your self if everything included in the design is really vital. You don’t need much more than the business name, contact information, key services, and a few graphics. Also, make sure that there are areas of white space on the wrap that will keep everything much easier to read.
  3. The cool typography makes the vehicle wrap illegible. Okay, so maybe you’ve just found a really amazing new font and you can’t wait to share it with the world, but hold on for just a minute. Is it legible from a distance? Is it legible from a distance at 70 miles per hour? How can you make sure that your vehicle wrap is easy to read?

    A big sans serif font may not be the fanciest way to go, but it is the most legible. A vehicle wrap can’t be effective if no one can read it! If you’re worried about the vehicle wrap legibility, ask a non-designer co worker or friend to take a glance a the design. If they spend more than 7 seconds puzzling out whether that’s an E or a C, you probably need to rethink your font choice.
  4. You didn’t take the vehicle wrap seams into account. Every vehicle wrap is going to involve some seams, it’s just the nature of printing on 52” panels of vinyl. Still, a well-installed vehicle wrap should look almost painted onto the car, with nearly invisible seams. How do you design a vehicle wrap with minimal seams?

    Seam placement starts with design. If you’re a new vehicle wrap designer, the best idea is to consult with a more experienced designer to ask for tips. Will you be in charge of printing the wrap? If not, discuss seam placement and layout with whoever will be doing the printing, to avoid seams that go through faces or important verbiage when possible.
  5. It’s impossible to tell what the car wrap is advertising. It doesn’t matter if I’m watching a tv commercial, listening to a radio ad, or looking at a vehicle wrap, it is frustrating if I can’t tell what a company does from an advertisement. How do you make sure that your vehicle wrap design is clear?

If the name of the business isn’t clear, make sure to include what the business does somewhere on the wrap. Add clear, emotional graphics to support the text. If it’s a vehicle wrap for a home care company, add an image of a nurse with a patient. If the vehicle wrap is for a contractor, use pictures of finished projects. Use images to tell the company’s story.

Do you ever pass by vehicle wraps that make you cringe? Any design pet peeves that you wish vehicle wrap designers would avoid? Let us know in the comments!

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