Design & Price: Box truck graphics

By SignCraft.com

Posted on Friday, March 25th, 2022

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In every issue, SignCraft gave a few sign makers an imaginary project. We asked them to do a sketch of the sign they might have produced, and to quote a price for the job. Most of the details were left to the designer’s imagination. The object is to see how different sign makers approach the same project. Here’s the scenario these sign makers were given:

A local family-owned furniture store has purchased a new delivery truck and is ready to have it lettered. The sign on their storefront is beginning to show its age, and they indicate that they may be interested in a logo design and new shop sign as well. Make a sketch of the sign you might have designed for the customer and quote a price.

This appeared in the July/August 2005 issue of SignCraft. Prices have been adjusted for inflation.

Brian Schofield

Lines & Letters, Bridgewater, New Jersey

When this customer came in to meet with us, my first feeling was to go for the classic colonial conservative look. Later I decided to offer a couple of designs that were more contemporary.

The client did not have a logo and hoped that we could design a logo and letter the vehicle. I stressed to the client that a truck this large truck is essentially a rolling billboard for his company, so a recognizable and easy-to-read design was very important. Each design is clean, free of clutter. They are a reflection of the store’s quality. The truck’s back door is the perfect place to list specific items or brand names that the store carries/sells.

The sketches are based on a box size of 68-by-172-in. We came up with four distinct designs. We bracket price our vehicle lettering as much as possible in order to allow us the liberty to cover ourselves for unseen situations, and if additional work is necessary, to help improve the finished product.

Logo design package:

This is $600 to $800 depending on the number of logos we come up with. The package includes the artwork on CD, business cards, various sizes of logo in color and black/white and in different formats—.pdf, .ai,  .eps, .jpeg. The logo fee is due before we begin the design process.

Prices:

Vehicle lettering includes both sides of the box, the rear door, cab doors, and cab-over.

Design A: $3500 – $4000

Design B: $2200 – $3000

Design C: $3600 – $4000

Design D: $6200 – $6500

Tom Aldama

Wonderland Signs, Inc., Redding, California

During our initial meeting, I discussed the hourly shop rate ($105) and minimum charge for a simple logo design ($450). At this time it was determined that a contemporary design was appropriate for our client. I told the client to allow about 1 or 2 weeks for the rough designs to be ready to view. Most of the logo designs here at our shop are created by Steve Halmhofer.

After the logo design is finalized, we use a three-tier pricing system to show the customer their options for lettering their 15-ft. box van.

Design A:

In this basic version, all the lettering is done using Arlon high-performance film. The background area and green panel behind Furniture are custom colors not available in standard vinyl films, so 1Shot enamel and paint mask were used. More than likely there would be rivets in the painted areas which we would prepare with a self-etching spray primer.

Price:

Two sides @ $1100 each: $2200

Rear: $800

Total: $3,000

Design B:

For this intermediate version, a light green drop shadow was added to the lettering, along with a painted border around the shield shape. This was done in 1Shot enamel. An additional drop shadow was airbrushed using a custom mixed enamel in light grey. The green background panel has changed to a ribbon shape, and all areas including the lettering, shading and outlining are vinyl films. As you can see, this version could probably be done digitally at about the same cost as the basic version. At this point, I would let our client know that it would be best to leave the actual method of production to our discretion.

Price:

Two sides @ $1100 each: $2200

Rear: $1600

Total: $3800

Design C:

This custom version is a full-color digital print on 3M Scotchcal film. We outsource our digital printing.

Price:

Two sides @ $2200 each: $4400

Rear: $1650

Total: $6050

Chuck Crawford

The Sign Shop, Mountain City, Georgia

I would hand letter this truck because it would be too much vinyl to fool with. I work alone and would need help to install all that vinyl—and I don’t want any employees (been there, done that).

This job would probably take about three days. The pictorials are a bit of a pain but would give the customer’s image a bit more punch. And that’s what it’s all about: making the customer look good and sell his or her product—and make ourselves some money in the process.

I seldom give the customer more than one design to choose from. As a designer, it’s my job to know which will be most effective. I did several as I played around with this, though, so I sent them all.

I haven’t done a truck like this in a while, but this is what I would charge. If they don’t want to pay my prices, I’ll go golfing or ride my motorcycle. Life is too short to bust your butt for nothing. (Been there, done that, too!)

Price: Around $3500 with a pictorial; $2200 without one