For many businesses, vans are more than just workhorses; they’re mobile billboards, marketing tools to get your brand and your messaging out there while going to and from jobs.
But what’s the best way to go about this and how will wraps and liveries change over the next few years? We’ve spoken to the experts to find out how liveries, signs and wraps and their respective processes are evolving, and what that will mean when it comes to remarketing your vehicles.
First and foremost, putting your company’s branding on a van is about cost-effective marketing and, most will agree that, compared with other ways of getting your message and your brand out there, it’s one of the cheaper methods.
“It’s well-known that vehicle branding is arguably the most cost-effective form of outdoor media when comparing the cost versus the opportunities to see for say TV or radio,” says Tobin Jenkins, sales director at Sign Language. “You only have to take a short drive out in an urban environment to see the increasing number of brands using creative and eye-catching designs to raise awareness.”
Barnaby Smith, sales director at Media Fleet, agrees, telling What Van? that one vehicle properly livered can provide “an OTS (opportunity to see) upwards of 360,000 times per day, depending on location”.
It’s not just in terms of saving you money on marketing costs where wraps can prove to be financially beneficent. The added bodywork protection a wrap gives your van can have a significant effect on improving its resale value by around £500, according to Jenkins.
Craig Brown, managing director of Signs Express, puts the potential figure in the hundreds too, while he also points out that if you purchase a van in a less than desirable colour, commissioning a wrap in a more popular – and therefore remarketable colour – could end up saving you money too. This is because the cost of the wrap is likely to be less than what you’d lose in the van’s value when it comes to selling it on.
Smith adds that if you buy a van in an ideal remarketing colour – white, for example – for the period the vehicle is on your fleet, it can be wrapped in your corporate colours. When, however, the time comes to sell it on, the wrap simply needs to be removed, instantly improving its second-hand value for much less than the cost of a full respray.
It’s important that any graphics or liveries are removed before the time comes to sell a van because not only will they reduce the value of the LCV, but if another company buys a vehicle with your branding, it could damage your own firm’s reputation, as Jenkins explains: “It would decrease the value of the asset and could also cause damage to the brand should the vehicle fall into the wrong hands.”
Generally, the only liveries or markings that should, perhaps, be left on the vehicle when it comes to remarketing are chevron safety markings. Adding them can cost around £400, and buyers may see a van with them on as a good deal.
On the other hand, however, Jenkins says the markings can be viewed as a sign of the vehicle having had a hard life. At the moment, opinion is split, as Jenkins tells What Van?:
“I know of two leading leasing businesses with differing views on this. One sends their vehicles to auction totally stripped whereas the other leaves any chevron or safety markings on.”
Meanwhile, Brown warns against covering old liveries and wraps with new ones, which due to the processes involved, can cause serious problems: “We would never advise to apply a wrap on top of a wrap or overlap graphics, as this will reduce the quality of the finish, and the heat that is required to apply new graphics has the potential to warp existing graphics underneath, thus ruining the entire project.”
There have been some pretty major recent innovations in this arena. Liveries and wraps can now be made more complex, be done in less time and with less impact on the environment.
And the experts say there are a number of exciting new developments coming on the scene
in the near future. Jenkins describes active organic light-emitting diode (OLED) screens as the future of light commercial vehicle liveries.
These can change messaging instantly, thanks to connected technology, and will
allow “messaging to be changed centrally on fleets of vehicles, regionally or nationally”.
Meanwhile, it’s carbon fibre, matte- and satin-effect vinyls, along with other, more eye-catching effects, that are exciting Brown: “We love working with carbon fibre, matte- and satin-effect vinyls as well as sparkle colour options that offer greater individuality and excellent finishes.”
Smith remains coy about Mediafleet’s forthcoming innovations, but he’s confident that “fleet livery in the 2020s will be vastly more sophisticated than it is today, offering brand managers much more scope than the long-term, general messages on today’s company vehicles”. Greater investment on the part of marketing and fleet managers has also boosted investment in the industry which will, in turn, fund greater innovation, says Smith.
Big improvements are being made environmentally as well, according to Brown: “Vinyl is becoming more widely recyclable and many external companies offer a recycling service for PVC-based products.”
Jenkins agrees, highlighting the role legislation has had in improving the environmental impact of the industry: “Environmental, health and safety, and recycling directives have ensured pigments, polymers and additives used in film manufacture are much more environmentally safe.” The inks used in the printing process have improved significantly, too, according to Jenkins, moving to more eco-friendly water-based, UV-cured and latex inks.
It’s also a much quicker process to have livery put on your LCV these days than it was a few years ago. With better materials and improved training, the process of wrapping a van is approximately 10% faster than it was 10 years ago, says Brown.
Jenkins, meanwhile, says that improved adhesives have made for “much more user-friendly products” becoming ever more available, and that “repositionable and air-release products “normally give a 25% reduction in the time to wrap a vehicle”.
Smith, however, argues that it’s the quality of the work done over the same time frame that has improved enormously, rather than the amount of work achieved: “It is not necessarily the time it takes to wrap a vehicle that has decreased, more the quality of the wrap completed in the same time frame has developed tenfold.”
While the benefits of branding LCVs are plain to see, that’s not to say there are no downsides. As previously mentioned, liveries and wraps that have been improperly removed or covered over can have a negative effect on a van’s second-hand value.
Meanwhile, van owners will also have to take ‘ghosting’ into account. This phenomenon is where you can still see the faint outline of the livery on the van’s paintwork. Geographical location has an impact on this as well, as sunnier places are likely to have a greater impact. It’s difficult to stop, too, due to the varying paints and techniques used by different manufacturers.
Obviously, unwanted marks on an LCV will have an effect on its remarketing value, but there are ways you can minimise ghosting, according to Brown, who says “keeping the vehicle clean and applying a good-quality wax” will help keep the paintwork looking
fresh and therefore boost its remarketing value.
Meanwhile, Smith recommends the use of an isopropanol cleaner as well as a good waxing and polishing before resale.
This really is the only downside of ensuring your LCV fleet is properly liveried, however. The marketing benefits alone will almost certainly bring in far more money in terms of people using your services than it will ever cost in lost remarketing value.