Vehicle Graphics have been around for a long time and we wanted to take a closer look at what customers are really looking for now in terms of product quality, service, design and so on. According to Alex Liggett from The Vinyl Guys, “It is clear that over the last 3-4 years, looking at quote requests and orders, what customers really want has evolved quite a bit when it comes to vehicle graphics.”
For the larger fleets, there has certainly been a general shift towards “less is more” with minimalist style branding rather than the full wraps and text heavy info panels that many of the bigger companies used to have. You can see this all around with the likes of BT, Cadent and British Gas.
Social media has changed the landscape
Alex says that now many opt for their logo, website and social logos only. “This is a clear recognition that a large percentage of their potential audience will use socials as their search engine. This is where they will read reviews, contact the company, make purchases or just for general info. They will do this instead of looking for details from several sources or platforms as they did in the past.”
He continues, “We always try to explain this to our vehicle graphics customers and emphasise the importance of maintaining consistent branding at all customer touch points, so that brand recognition and the ease with which new customers can discover them on social media platforms can be improved. Spending time understanding our customers relationship and purchasing journey with their customers is key to advising them correctly on the best vehicle branding solutions because one thing that many of them do want from us (in addition to design, production and installation) is our advice, based on our experience and what we have seen work for previous customers.”
However, when it comes to the bottom line; there are always those customers who will want a full wrap for the price of some cut vinyl lettering (thanks to eBay). “In general, my experience is that if we approach the process of quoting a customer in the right way, ie discovering their wants and needs, managing their expectations of the results that are achievable within their budget and informing them a little on materials and processes, then we can minimise the amount of quotes that aren’t converted to orders. More importantly, we can find the “right” customers for our business who appreciate the time we put into their job, the materials we use and the processes involved,” adds Alex.
Finding the ‘right’ customers
He continues, “One major thing that has helped us with finding these “right customers” is using our social media pages to show work in progress, showcase our machinery and explain a little about materials and our processes. We do this so our customers can see the time, care and effort that goes into turning an idea into the finished product. This approach has also helped us win larger fleet contracts and trade work by giving potential customers confidence in the business as they are able to see the investments that we have made (and continue to make) in machinery, staff and training. It also demonstrates that we are thinking long term, which gives them confidence that we will be here to support them and their fleet for many years to come, which I believe is a vital consideration for many customers.”
Most of The Vinyl Guys’ vehicle graphics customers are fleets of 1-6 vans, “The key question from them these days tends to be around quality, longevity and end of lease removability rather than price. I like to think that because we do what I talk about above (on social media) anyone looking for that “eBay special £90 van graphics package” will look through our content and realise, that’s not really what we do. Businesses who care about their branding, want a well thought-out design, quality materials and for them to look fresh for years…..and they understand having a job completed that ticks all of these boxes, comes with a premium over the ebay ‘quickie’ suppliers.”
Wraps and decals - how have these markets developed?
Alex explains, “We have done fewer full wraps on commercial vehicles over the last 12/18 months than we ever have. On the face of it, many would say that this is purely down to cost, pandemic related economic issues and general cost of living increases, but I think the reason is deeper than that. The trend towards more minimal “branding” rather than “wrapping” happened before the pandemic.”
Alex believes that commercial vehicle owners have come to realise that potential customers could be overwhelmed by images, lists, contact info and the like over every panel of the van and this has led to a shift in attitude. This is very likely as on average you get to see a passing van for 3-6 seconds before it’s gone. If that van is full of complex text lists and multiple images, the eye doesn’t get chance to focus on everything so may end up not noticing anything.
“The best job is the one where you deliver exactly what your customer wants. Some will be guided by our advice and some will be more certain about what they want. The same solution doesn’t work for all businesses but speaking in general terms, I find that a combination of printed work, cut vinyl lettering, and if a customer is looking for a little more impact, then partial wraps or large logos, works well,” he says.
“Going back to a point I made earlier; if we spend some time to really discover what our customers want to achieve then we can ensure that we deliver the best solution we can using the appropriate materials.”
How important is sustainability in this market - and what form does it take?
“For the larger fleet managers, this is a question that is being asked more and more, but I still don’t think it is high up on the list of priorities for our average day to day vehicle graphics customers. There is still a feeling from end users and print business owners, in my opinion, that a sustainable solution will be a much more expensive solution,” explains Alex.
“Things will no doubt change in the next 6-12 months as the material manufacturers develop their offerings to be “greener” and maybe even get to a truly recyclable product. Once these materials become priced similarly to current materials OR there are incentives for fleets to specify more eco-friendly materials, then I think the demand will increase.
What do the Vinyl Guys specialise in and what are your main strengths?
“The core of our business is vehicle branding and a range of products that go hand in hand with that. I have always tried to look at our customers’ needs and plan our product range around them. When they come to us for their van graphics, they can leave with their van branded, service / contact stickers, site boards, banners and workwear all done to a high standard. They also have had the opportunity to have a look around our premises as their vehicle is being worked on, which means they get the chance to ask us about other projects we can do, such as including custom wall and floor graphics, door wraps, signage, business cards, magnetic vehicle panels and anything else they’ve been thinking about.”
“The main strength of the business is my amazing team. Chris, Carl and Tom really care about the work they put out and take pride in what they do every day. We are available and responsive to messages, calls, texts and social media comments and messages. We try to make it easy for our customers to order and re order, whilst still receiving a personal service. I want our customers to feel like we care about their business and think about how they can use our products to grow their customer base and improve their brand recognition.”
Alex Liggett concludes, “We do more than sell print, we offer branding solutions designed to support our customers in reaching their business goals.”