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From Advertising to Branding: Are Custom Vehicle Graphics Worth the Cost?


From Advertising to Branding: Are Custom Vehicle Graphics Worth the Cost?

When it comes to installing vehicle graphics, wraps, and decals, your bottom-line matters the most (or is, at least, an important factor). Maybe you’ve gotten a few quotes on car wrap installation, or perhaps you’re entering the first stage of the buying process. Whatever the case, you’re naturally curious whether they’re worth their salt.

Unlike other forms of digital and outdoor advertising, a vehicle wrap is a one-time investment, only requiring ongoing vehicle maintenance. But is that initial expense worth it?

At first impression, it may seem like the effect of vehicle graphics on motorists and pedestrian is largely intangible; that is, results aren’t directly measurable, since you can’t track a driver’s journey from first glance to final purchase.

But with a little bit of detective work, you can get a solid idea of how many impressions you’re receiving, how effectively the wrap is conveying your brand’s identity, as well as how it stacks up to other forms of marketing. So, continue scrolling to get the hard facts on vehicle wraps, and their value to your business.

How much are car wraps in the first place?

This is a common question, and we’ll answer with a common answer – it depends on what you’re looking for. Not satisfied? Okay, let’s investigate the different factors that influence the end-total.

  • Full or Partial Wrap: Obviously, the less vinyl material used, the less you’ll have to pay upfront. Cost-conscious business owners may want to consider a partial wrap, which can grab the attention of passersby equally well, depending on the cleverness of your design. Which brings us to our next cost variable…
  • Graphic Design: Often overlooked, eye-catching design is the key to a successful mobile advertising campaign. Graphic designers and print shops may bill by the hour, and schedule time to make sure the wrap fits properly. We recommend not skimping out on the budget for the creative process, as bad graphics can defeat the whole purpose of vehicle advertising, dissuading future patrons while introducing your brand in a negative light.
  • Materials Used: Believe it or not, there is a difference between simple vinyl and high-performance material from industry leaders, such as 3M, Avery-Dennison, Arlon, Orafol, etc. Many of these manufacturers will honor warranties up to seven years from the purchase date, assuming they’re driven under normal conditions. That’s a lot of time to have a rolling billboard in your lot.
  • Size of the Vehicle: Wrapping a multi-ton van that can seat eight passengers is going to have a substantially different price tag than wrapping a smart car. The amount of material that needs to be installed directly correlates with the amount of money you’ll spend, as many places bill according to square footage. 

With all of that said, pricing can fall anywhere between $1500 dollars to $6,000. In 2016, the national average for cost was between $10-$15 per square foot.

A few reasons why car wraps are worth it in the long run:

1. Vehicle wraps will bring you more impressions than you can count.

The OAAA (Outdoor Advertising Agency of America) states that mobile advertising can be the most effective and efficient form of out-of-home advertising. One wrapped vehicle can receive between 30,000 to 70,000 impressions per day!

With all that exposure, you might expect a high price tag, but on average, vehicle graphics cost around four cents per thousand impressions. Compare that to newspapers ads, which average out to a $19.70 CPM (Cost per Mille).


2. Remember, you can recoup costs with a higher resale value.

Think of a vinyl wrap as a screen protector for your car or van. A full car wrap can protect the finish underneath from scratches, dings, sun damage, and other minor damage, giving you an extra sense of assurance while you’re out on the road.

Plan to update your fleet in future with more fuel-efficient vehicles? Take your team of automobiles to a professional, and they can remove fleet graphics on the spot using a heat gun (along with a little bit of patience). The fit and finish will be as pristine as it was when the vehicles left the factory, leaving you with top-tier resale value and more cash in your wallet.


3. Painting your car is much more expensive.

An alternative to vehicle wrapping, a high-quality paint job can range from $3000- $10000+ depending on the color used, quality of paints, and whether you’ll need a custom design. With such a substantial amount of money, you may wonder why anyone would entertain the idea of painting their car. The answer to that? Permanence. Paint jobs can last decades, if maintained properly.

There’s no doubt that paint will last longer than a vinyl wrap, but the question remains: Do you really need the longevity? A vinyl wrap lasts four to ten years as it is, and they can be replaced at a professional shop with relative ease.

Both produce the same effect on passersby, so you’re not missing out. Even brands with colossal marketing budgets, like Red Bull and Monster, stay with fleet vehicle graphics. More money saved means more money that can be spent putting additional advertising on the road.


For more professional tips and tricks involving custom vehicle graphics, you can rely on the experts at Signs Now®.

“How else can I get car wraps to work for me?” you ask.Find out with an expert site assessment courtesy of Signs Now®. We have an array of Vehicle Graphics, Wraps, & Decals for all applications and budgets. And if you’re looking for a low-cost solution to mobile advertising, we offer Partial Vehicle Wraps. We invite you to learn more about what Signs Now can do for you. To get started, contact us today.