5 steps to more effective truck lettering

By SignCraft Magazine

Posted on Thursday, August 25th, 2016

When it comes to sign design, vehicles are much more of a challenge since they must be read while they’re moving—and often by a reader who is moving, too. John Deaton, Deaton Design Studio, Ages Brookside, Kentucky, takes a straightforward approach to truck lettering that delivers clean, easy-to-read vehicle graphics for his customers.

What is it that makes John’s truck lettering so effective? It’s a combination of design fundamentals that make almost any sign design more successful.
Use interesting, appropriate fonts. John prefers unique, legible fonts—usually in bold weights. To avoid typical-looking fonts, John often uses fonts designed specifically for sign work.

“I have quite a few typefaces from Letterheadfonts.com and Signfonts.com,” says John. “I often cruise font sites looking for typefaces that I can use in my layouts. I do have favorites, like Tallington and Signmaker from Letterheadfonts, and Big Red and Arroyo from SignDNA [available on www.signcraft.com] plus Marquee, Roadhouse, Shocard Block from Signfonts. I lean towards bold type because I think it just looks better. I’ve never been a fan of skinny fonts, unless it’s for secondary copy.”

Uncommon colors and combinations add a lot. Often the first colors you think of are the last ones to use. Fresh new colors and color combinations help set a design apart in the sea of ho-hum colors used on many vehicles.

Let the main message have top billing. The secondary copy should be just that—obviously secondary. Many viewers don’t have the time or inclination to read much beyond the most obvious copy. John doesn’t risk distracting them with information that won’t matter if they don’t get the main message. The business name dominates the layout.

Give it plenty of air. John tends to use hefty margins to frame the lettering. A large margin actually makes the lettering easier to read—especially if the lettering is bold enough and has plenty of contrast. Where other truck lettering might use medium-weight lettering that fills the entire space, John uses large margins to isolate the lettering and keep it from relating to distracting panels and moldings.

Make the graphic into a unit. John often lets lettering bump into each other, overlap onto panels or share bold outlines. This makes the lettering into an “emblem” that reads as a unit and is also more interesting to look at and read.

For many small businesses, their vehicle graphics are the cornerstone of their marketing and advertising. It’s never been more important to know how to help clients get the most out of their vehicles. Using these concepts can help you do just that.