Design & Price: Pickup-truck lettering

By signcraft

Posted on Friday, August 18th, 2023

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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 are 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:

One of the owners of a growing landscaping business makes an appointment to see you regarding the lettering and graphics on their new pickup. She explains that the company is new, but growing quickly, and asks if you know of someone who could develop a logo for them that could be incorporated into the lettering on the truck. Make a sketch of the sign you might have designed for this customer and quote a price.

This appeared in the July/August 2004 issue of SignCraft. While the prices have been adjusted for inflation, they may not accurately reflect current pricing for such signage.

Kurt Gaber

Gaber Signs, Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin

I would approach this job as I would any typical logo-design job. That means finding out what the company wants to achieve with their image and how they want to project themselves.

Assuming that the word “Landscaping” doesn’t limit them to their tagline of “The Lawn Care Experts,” the stone backdrop behind their name indicates their ability to put together some retaining walls as well. Tying in the tagline with a simple silhouette of a lawnmower and the visual grass gives the impression that they are lawn care specialists, too.

I like to use bright colors to attract attention, and these colors work well with the type of business they are in. I also like to use clip art and other fonts available to put a design together fairly quickly. The chisel letters have always been a favorite of mine, and I spent the majority of the time custom designing the chisel effect. By creating a unique look for R&K that you can’t pull from a font disk makes it designed especially for them.

The logo design would be $281 and the lettering for the pickup-truck doors only would be $442. If they wanted an oversize job to really make some impact, I could spread some of the lettering across the box sides and tailgate and keep the price in the $964 range.

I would use the Gerber Edge printer to create the blended lettering and cut and print this job entirely with vinyl lettering. The logo was designed in FlexiSIGN Pro, using the Dan Antonelli approach by tweaking an existing font and creating the custom chisel look, as well. Since short words or initials work well with chisel letters, this particular job was a natural for this type of lettering.


Patrick Smith

Design 5 hrs. at $104/hr: $522Material, weeding and tape (outsourced): $177

Vinyl application at shop: $321

Total selling price: $1020 plus tax

P.G. Smith Design Studio, Orange, California

If the client came to me looking to have a logo designed for a small business, I would charge a minimum of two hours at $104 per hour, which would be charged separately from the truck lettering. Once a budget was established, I would offer three sketches, and when the final was approved, provide a color drawing. I would do all the artwork on the computer. The truck lettering would be done in vinyl.


Rob Cooper


Two doors, basic: $723

Blend or beveling: $964

R&K 23k gold: $1205

Koh Tao, Thailand

The colors would depend on the truck color, and for this I am using a dark green. I would also offer them the option of a large script for Landscaping.

The tree and grass are apple green and imitation gold, R&K is purple with a white outline or gold leaf with a maroon outline, and Landscaping is imitation gold or hot orange. The background panel is black.


Jack Keith

Keith Signs & Graphix, Cabool, Missouri

I did these two proposals the same as I would for any of my customers. One is a more “arty” type that I really enjoyed doing, and I would try hard to sell that one. The other is a more contemporary look that some clients prefer.

Design A:

Design/consultation: $803

Print and cut vinyl: $1178

Install graphics: $161

Total: $2142

Design B:

Design/consultation: $803

Print and cut vinyl: $867

Install graphics: $161

Total: $1831


Donna Schiller Hellenbrand

Mainstreet Lettering & Signs, Marshall, Wisconsin

When creating a design, I make two to four rough sketches before consulting with my customer. We always make sure to keep the design personal and eye catching. Depending on the customer’s budget, I would use vinyl lettering or would recommend a hand-painted pictorial and lettering for something more detailed. This job would run from $241 to $562.


Jeff Gilfix

Brushfire Signs, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Whenever I’m asked to design a logo, I first try to find out my customer’s personality—conservative or more easy going. I like a customer with an open mind who is willing to let me do what I do best—sign design! If he wants his truck to stand out, he must break the mold and venture past the 2-in. black vinyl letters he can buy at a supply store (Helvetica, of course).

I always require a 75-percent deposit, whether for logo design or an actual job. If I can’t collect up front, why would I give my product up front? I must have a solid commitment before I give anything. This may sound harsh, but it works for me.

I have the customer come to my shop to view the design on my computer screen. If he wants a printout to “show his wife,” I tell him to bring her along next time. I keep it light and have a reply for anything thrown at me. After all, I’m a one-man shop and can’t afford to waste time.

I take a digital shot of their truck before they leave so I can show them how the vehicle will look when completed. This way there is no guesswork as to where the truck’s body elements will be.

This would be done with 2-mil vinyl and hand-lettered 1Shot enamel.

Logo design ($1124 CDN): $837 US

Lettering two sides and tailgate ($1365 CDN): $1017 US


Dan Antonelli

KickCharge Creative, Washington, New Jersey

As with every new client, we explain to them the logo design process, what they get for their logo-design fee (artwork, disk with various files), and then point them to our website to review our logo portfolio of over 120 logos.

The point of showing them our website ( is to have them give us feedback on styles of logos that they like, so that we have a better feel for their particular personal tastes. It also makes the sale much easier—especially when they see the volume of work we’ve done.

We’ve broken our portfolio into two sections—corporate and small business—so they can appreciate the different approaches. Several years ago, we started a separate division that only deals with landscapers and the advertising needs and that site will usually help seal a deal. On that site we promote the other aspects of marketing and advertising that the company might need—brochures, websites, stationery, etc. It really sets us apart and opens the door to future sales. It also presents us more as an ad agency than a sign company. We don’t sell lettering; we sell advertising.

Design A:

Logo design: $1204

Truck lettering, high-performance vinyl, two sides and rear: $1204

Truck lettering sketch, waived if we do the lettering: $241

We’ve taken a more corporate approach to the design and simply used some type elements arranged in a more interesting manner that are easy to reproduce in one, two or three colors. We purposely omitted the usual trees, leafs and other graphics that most landscapers use. We feel the uniqueness of the main copy will create the recognizable element of the logo.

The grass panel on the bottom, while tried and true, provides a simple representation of the business type along with the color selection. We also advocated to the client a positioning statement that might be used on the truck as well as other collateral, “We make picture perfect landscapes.”

Design B:

Logo design: $1204

Truck lettering, two sides and rear, digitally printed on doors and logo for tailgate, high-performance vinyl for other areas: $1927

Truck lettering sketch, waived if we do the lettering: $241

We’ve taken a more small-business approach after the client viewed our portfolio and pointed out some airbrushed logos he liked. If the client had an extended cab, we feel it’s a great way to extend the canvas and create a more visually appealing design. It will also help somewhat with distance legibility, since the main copy size can be increased. Sacrificing some legibility is usually the trade-off with all the cool airbrush affects.

The grass in the letter, with the bevel and light blue fade, is pretty unique, because to execute the job with paint would be extremely labor intensive. With digital printing, we don’t worry about the number of colors or how many ridiculous outlines, inlines and other stuff we add. We’d simply print the whole graphic and install it in one piece.