TORONTO, Ont. – Advancement in digital technology has changed the scenery in the world of fleet graphics.
From Big Mac’s nearly 53 feet wide to a lake-size pool of chocolate milkshake, images spanning the sides of trailers can have a mouth-watering effect on the masses.
“When we first started, fleet graphics were just hand-painted. They were just vinyl-cut graphics, the equipment’s gotten faster. If you can design it on a computer we can put it on a vehicle,” explained Mario Isgro, vice-president with Toronto Digital Imaging. “Years ago it was unheard of to do full-colour graphics.”
Digital imagery has become commonplace among graphic firms, especially in the past five years and the ever-evolving technology provides fleet owners with clear, crisp images.
“It’s growing stronger and stronger every year,” noted Esther Morissette, director of sales and marketing with Turbo Images. “It allows for more vibrant colour and design possibilities. It becomes a movable billboard and you can portray any image you want very clearly.”
The long and the short
When deciding on what image will best portray the message a carrier is trying to convey to either its customers or consumers or both, it is important to note that time is a factor.
“If it’s long-term we go with an Avery or 3M product,” said Isgro. “We also have products for the short-term, like one year removability; if they want to get the word out for a quick campaign.”
“One material is designed to last a year and is easier to use,” added Morissette. “The other is designed to last for five years and is clear-coated to protect from UV rays.”
As well as deciding between two types of images, Morissette also noted the option between the two types of material Turbo Images prints on: regular vinyl and ultra-reflective vinyl.
“We can print on reflective vinyl, so it becomes a 24-hour billboard and can be seen at night as well,” she explained. “The ultra-reflective material acts as a safety feature at night as well.”
With the emergence of digital imaging, fleet graphics as an industry has experienced rapid growth in the past few years.
“Fleet graphics has grown in the last few years because it’s the most bang for your buck,” said Isgro. “You basically have a moving billboard. If you look at the initial investment, it’s just pennies.”
As the digital technology continues to evolve, the end cost will keep moving in favour of the carriers.
“With any electronic equipment the price improves over time. It’s a truly affordable form of media when compared to other forms,” said Morissette. “It provides a consistency when portraying a fleet image.”
As the cost of digital graphics continues its downward trend, smaller fleets can enjoy the same impact of graphics that larger fleets have enjoyed over the years.
“Now it’s more cost-effective for the customer. There’s no limitation for the customers in designing what they want,” added Isgro. “They can design something that is really going to wow people. If you design something with punch it’s going to get noticed.”
With a wide range of possibilities it may be a harrowing task deciding on what direction to take a fleet’s image.
“That’s when we sit down with the client and ask what they’re trying to get across,” said Isgro. “We can take ideas from the customers or we can help from start to finish developing a concept.”
Toronto Digital Imaging has been serving fleets for about 20 years and has an in-house design team that can work from ground zero right up to the finished product.
At Turbo Images, after about 12 years of providing graphics for various sized fleets, the graphic design department can work with carriers from start to finish.
“We meet with them and sit with them; we get a feel of what they want to portray and coach them through it,” explained Morissette.
“We can start from scratch and take them to the production and installation.”
The grand finale
Brand new equipment can be outfitted with carrier-specific images as it rolls off the assembly line, which negates any downtime from having a truck parked in the graphic firm’s shop.
Outfitting equipment already in use is not an overnight job and it’s best to take it one truck at a time.
“It depends if you’re talking about one trailer or 50 trailers, a name on the side or a full wrap. But it’s not a lot of time; it’s more a question of coming up with the design,” said Morissette.
“We go to the fleet owners’ location and install right on the yard or they can come to our facility in Mississauga.”
“After we have the concept and design all done it can take two to three days to produce the graphics,” added Isgro.
“Once we have the graphics all done, the truck will only be off the road for one day. We understand a truck standing still won’t make any money.”