Common errors when buying van signs

We’ve been designing and installing van signage for over 10 years, we’ve come across all manner of requests. You’re probably sat reading this thinking, how on earth can you cock up buying van signs? – It’s surprisingly easy, and can be quite dramatic! Here’s our list of the most common errors customers make when buying van signs.

How much?

Most of the calls, and emails we get start with “how much to sign my van”, we could tell you £25, or £2500 and it wouldn’t be a lie. Try calling any builder and ask “how much for an extension?”. Or estate agent and ask how much a house is? There is no pricelist.

It all depends on what you want, your vehicle, and your expectations. First ask yourself how much do you want to spend, and put a number on it. Your budget shouldn’t be any big secret, and we’ll explain why shortly.

Your budget is the most powerful tool in buying van signs. If you’re concerned about being ripped off, by an unscrupulous company charging you over the odds because they know your budget, then speak to a few other companies. Most will be willing to provide examples of previous work they’ve done that fits your budget, you can also check their reviews, and social media profiles to get a better feel of the company.

You can opt to keep your budget secret, and jump at the first company who quotes half what you were anticipating to spend and get some average stickers slung on your van, or worse still some inferior graphics, using unbranded material, that starts to look tatty after a few months. Alternatively you could divulge what your budget is, and get something that’s fit for purpose, and will possibly have that bit more WOW factor.

Expecting the sign company to be mind readers

“Looking for a quote to sign write my entire van. [Company Name] in large letters on sides then phone number Facebook etc. Also on bonnet and back doors”

This is a genuine enquiry we received today, and it’s not uncommon. Please remember we’re sign writers, not mind readers!

We can’t even begin to give you a ball park price without knowing what vehicle you’re looking to have signed up, let alone start the design process.

Telling us it’s a Ford Transit is a start, but we need to be a little more specific especially before the design process starts, to ensure we’re creating the artwork for the correct size & shape van.

We’ll need know if it’s a short or long wheelbase, standard roof, high roof, what year is the vehicle, and colour. It’s also helpful to know of any obstructions, nothing ruins a great design like having a huge deadlock, or rear ladders smack in the middle!

If you’re in any doubt, provide your vehicles registration number, most reputable companies will be able to identify the correct vehicle using this.

Do not under estimate how important this is, it saves great embarrassment and expense, ensuring your graphics are produced to the correct size, for your vehicle. Yes it has happened!

Yeah that looks good

We won’t lie, sticking stickers to vans isn’t difficult with enough practice. You can even buy cheap kits online and have a go yourself, but chances are they’re not going to work for your business.

The challenge in creating van signs is designing something that works for you and your business, and nobody knows your business better then you! (see above, we’re not mind readers)

What do you want to achieve from your van signs? Brand awareness? Lead generation?

We’ve spoken with companies, and assumed they have multiple vehicles on the road, to discover they have one. It’s the same one van we’ve repeatedly seen and has stuck in our mind. I’d say they’re van signs that work.

If you’re looking to generate leads, who is your target audience? What services do you want to promote? What generates the most income?

All of this is important in the design process, it ensures you get a design that meets your needs, expectations, and budget. Slapping stickers on with no thought, is of little benefit! It’s no use plastering your van an A to Z of services, when nobody has chance to read it, in the same vein it’s no use emphasising extensions, and construction, when you primarily install (and enjoy) installing kitchens.

Would you let a builder loose on your extension without first giving them some idea of what you wanted, along with some plans? The same is true with your van signs, if you’ve found a company who can design your signage without discussing your needs, alarm bells should ring (remember sign makers are not mind readers)

Any reputable company should provide a visual, or proof before producing any graphics for your van. Don’t just glance at it and think it looks great. Firstly check the spelling, contact details etc are all correct! Sign makers are human too, and mistakes can and do happen! Secondly think about the above – is it you?

Not considering colours

It is a pet hate of ours and can easily be avoided – You tell the sign company your van is grey or silver. They produce a design and send it over for approval, and you’re amazed. YES! Just what you wanted.

Imagine the disappointment when you collect your van, and that silver vinyl, doesn’t really stand out against the silver paint. Or there’s a lack of contract in the design.

Van’s move, and you have a matter of seconds to make the lasting impression (OK maybe a few minutes post lockdown, in rush hour!), your signage should stand out, be seen, and get noticed – Otherwise, what’s the point?

The colours you choose can say more about your business in a split second than all the text and logo’s. Pick your colours, check the colour against your vehicle. In one swatch book, from one manufacturer, there are 15 different choices of reds. Lots of scope to get it wrong.

This isn’t Minecraft

You’ve got your logo, it’s on your website, social media, it looks fantastic in it’s digital form. If we were to take the same logo file used on your Facebook page, and enlarge it to the sizes required for your van signage, it’d soon start looking like a scene from Minecraft (or like it’s built from Lego if you’re too old to know what Minecraft is). In short, it’ll look pretty horrendous.

The ideal format for your logo is an editable vector file – That probably means very little to you. Which is why on occasions where an editable vector file can’t be located, the sign maker will spend time tracing, redrawing and recreating your logo in their chosen design software in order to produce the signage at an acceptable quality.

Worse still is if you’ve sourced your pictures from google images, without even touching on the copyright subject, they tend to be low resolution, and again do not enlarge to a suitable standard at the sizes required for van signage. Most reputable companies will have access to stock image libraries, where they can source professional standard photography for reasonable costs.

Any reputable company who takes pride in their work, will advise and explain what is required and involved in producing their work. We’ve dealt with a number of customers who were dissatisfied with previous companies because of the poor quality of the images and logos when being produced, despite looking fine on the small scale proof on screen.

Rome wasn’t built in a day

Getting a new van is exciting, and if you’ve got staff nobody wants them sat around waiting for their wheels to be signed up before they get on the road and start earning their keep. Producing van signs is a bespoke, time intensive process. Firstly a design needs to be produced and approved. Colours must be selected, add to that any materials required need to be ordered.

The rolls of coloured vinyl need to be computer cut to shape to produce your design, any excess unwanted vinyl from the roll needs to be removed (weeded is the term we use), before having a paper transfer tape applied and finally being trimmed from the roll.
If your design has printed elements, rolls of vinyl are first printed, then laminated after the inks have dried (outgassing if printing with Solvent inks), before then cut if required in the same manner as the coloured vinyl above.

The same is true for every van, for every customer, and no machine can replace the work done by human hands, and that’s before we start installation.

So there’s our list of common errors people make when buying van signs.

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

By Published On: January 21st, 2021Categories: Tips & Tricks0 Comments on Common errors when buying van signs