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Van signwriting
Vinyl graphics look professional, and unlike a paint-job, there's no need to respray come re-sale time

Story: PETER McSEAN

Your van is like a big business card. It’s a huge mobile advertising hoarding seen by thousands. And it makes a statement about your business and your professionalism. So that statement needs to be right.

Every small business must keep costs to a minimum, but doing van graphics yourself is usually a false economy. A slip-shod amateurish look will be bad for business and likely cost more to put right that getting it done properly in the first place. Better to use a specialist – and there are enough around for quotes to be competitive. But the cheapest quote will not always be the best quote, so here are some things to consider.

  • Vinyl is the way to go: make sure it’s good quality so it won’t fade or peel

Few people get graphics painted on to their van these days. Vinyl is the way to go. It’s easy to apply and, when you finally dispose of the van, easy to remove – unlike hand-painted graphics, there’ll be no need for a respray. The vinyl route also lets you fine-tune and approve the exact look of the graphics before they’re applied. Most specialists offer a design service.

Make sure a decent vinyl is used – one from a recognised brand, such as Avery or 3M. Check how long it’s guaranteed for – you don’t want your van looking shabby in a few years because you’ve used cheap vinyl that has faded in the sun and is peeling at the edges.

You can go for small sections of vinyl – say, on the side panel and rear doors – or you can cover the whole van in vinyl, which is called a ‘wrap’. Wrapping has many advantages. It protects the original paintwork against everyday grime and stone chips. That’s good news, especially when you dispose of the van years later. If you lease, it’s one end-of-contract worry removed. And if you own the van, its smart, lustrous paintwork will help you get a good price for it.

A wrap is ideal if your corporate colours are unusual or lurid. A lime green or pink van, for instance, will be harder to resell and fetch a lower price than, say a white or silver van. So here’s the trick: buy a white or silver van, wrap it in your lurid colours, then peel it all off when you resell. And, hey presto, a van with smart, clean paintwork in a colour that’s easy to sell.

  • Covering the whole van – a ‘wrap’ – is increasingly popular. It protects the paintwork too.

When applied properly, a wrap will look exactly like paintwork. And you can use really eye-catching pictures or graphics if you want. If your van is used mostly a night, you can go for reflective vinyl to get your message seen. Metallic-look vinyls are available, too.

It’s vital to find out the expertise of the technicians who will be applying the wrap or taking care of your van signwriting. Where did they receive the training – one of the major vinyl suppliers? How long have they been doing it? Can you see some examples of their work and talk to past clients? If you’ve any doubts, smile politely and take your business elsewhere. There’s plenty of choice, it’s your money, your business van, and you need to get it right.

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