Eight ways to create powerful vehicle graphics

By signcraft

Posted on Friday, March 5th, 2021

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A customer just emailed you to say they bought a new truck and want a new design for it—an upgrade from the rather plain, basic lettering on their old one. Maybe it’s a contractor or a landscaper or an HVAC company. It doesn’t matter. The task is to come up with an idea for a design that will turn their new truck into powerful mobile advertising.

One easy way to get your creative ideas flowing is to flip through the photos in a few of the profiles on the sign designers featured in SignCraft. After seeing the approaches that they use effectively, it usually doesn’t take long before you find a few design solutions coming to mind.

It’s not about just finding a design you can reproduce with different copy. It’s about you creating an effective, unique image for their business, which is what the customer is trusting you to do. Seeing the design approaches—the concepts behind the designs—that other designers have used successfully can give you a place to get started on your own design for this customer of yours.

Sometimes, it may trigger a completely different approach to your design and that’s great. But it was still a catalyst for a new idea.

Here’s an example. Ralph Toews and his sons Randy and Travis [RT Signs, Steinbach, Manitoba, Canada] have been featured in SignCraft in the past and have a knack for clean, high impact designs for all types of signage. Seeing how they handle vehicle graphics is a great way to get your creative juices flowing for a brand new truck design of your own.

Take a look at these trucks and consider the concepts behind the designs. Note the variety of approaches that they use in their designs. There might just be an idea or two lurking here to spark a great-looking design of your own.

Go with bold text. Often bold, clean lettering best delivers the visual impact your customer deserves. It’s right to the point, easy to read and interesting to look at. It gets the whole job done in the precious two to three seconds the viewer has to read it.

Try a letter icon. A letter or two can make a nice visual “lettermark” for a business, whether bold and strong or subtle and tasteful.


Use a color band. This can help turn the whole format into a sign, even if the lettering is confined to one area of the vehicle.

Repeat the logo graphic in the background. Blowing the logo’s graphic to a very large size then toning it way, way down in the background makes a subtle and interesting effect.

Share the space with an image. Some customers really want a photo of what they sell or what they do on their truck. Rather than let it overpower their primary message, let it share the space on the layout while keeping the text as its own, well-organized “sign.”

Add an illustration. It’s usually faster and easier to grasp the meaning of an illustration than a photograph—especially on a moving vehicle. If you have the skills to create a high impact illustration that relates to your customer’s business (or have an illustrator who can), by all means sell it. It can really make your customer’s image unique.

Be fun and friendly. It takes an illustration or graphic to do this well, but it’s a great solution for some businesses. Besides, everyone is way too serious anyway.

Use soft sell. Not every business needs to shout on their vehicles. A low-key, tasteful approach is often the most appropriate. Dropping the lettering down on the doors delivers the message in a classy, understated way.

By now, I’ll bet you’re starting to spin off a few new ideas of your own. That’s the power of inspiration. Seeing effective design solutions in action is a fast, easy, fun way to fire up your own creativity.

Tom McIltrot/SignCraft.com

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