toggle menu
toggle phone
specialists in new business van leasing

Hints & Tips

13 Experts in Vehicle Graphics

In this roundup, we ask 13 experts in vehicle graphics, 5 questions. The answers may surprise you and provide insightful information for the next time you decide to wrap your van.

image representing an expert roundup

Think that preparing graphics for your vehicle is time consuming and near impossible? Well, it just might not be as complicated as you may think.

We ask 5 simple questions to 13 experts in designing and applying decals on vehicles. We feel their answers and the reasons behind them are very insightful and should assist with a plan of action for when the time comes to decorate your van... making it that marketing machine you have always wanted.

Questions we asked 

1. "Most common mistake clients make when designing their own artwork for their vehicle?"

2. "How many main colours do you recommend for vehicle livery?"

3. "Would you recommend removable graphics? If Yes!, why? & If No!, why?"

4. "Where on the vehicle would you recommend placing the businesses telephone number & why?"

5. "What is your recommended ratio between design and text? "

Now let's hear what the experts have to say on the matter!

Note: We have also included at the very bottom of the page an infographic on the "10 Biggest Sign Writing Mistakes" ... just for a little informative fun. 

Stuart.L.Crawford -

1. Not designing their artwork in vector format. Vector is based on mathematical values, so artwork can be scaled from the size of a stamp to the size of a billboard without getting distorted or blurry. The more common format is Raster (or bitmap) which will blur and become stretched/distorted if enlarged - not ideal if you’re wanting to look professional to the world!

2. There’s no right answer here, ultimately it depends on the individual Brand. Someone like Coca-Cola can get away with their red and white, but Google for example may lose recognition if they dropped to a monotone approach. If your Brand has one primary colour, then go for that, if there’s a palette, consider how many bring value to the design.

3. Normally I work with small businesses and startups, where a personal vehicle is wrapped with their Branded livery, so a removable vinyl is advised. If the vehicle has been purchased solely as a commercial vehicle, then there’s no problem in a more permanent solution.

4. If the telephone number is the first point of contact for a client/customer, then make it prominent. Put it on the back, on the bumper, so that if you’re stuck in traffic, the people behind you know how to get in touch. Ultimately, save the most important focal points for the most important business call-to-action.

5. Again, there’s no right answer here. It depends on your Brand, your message and your Strategy. Oftentimes, less is more, so I’d suggest starting with a very simple design, focusing on the key elements and developing outwards should you need.  

logo of graphics company inkbot design logo

1. Too much information.

2. Magic 3 – black and 2 accent colours depending on colour of vehicle and assuming it’s cut-vinyl not digital print.

3. Yes, very good for leased vehicles.  Buy the best quality for staying on your vehicle. Rounded corners and remove and wash underneath periodically.

4. Rear doors and passenger side – where pedestrians/ following vehicles can see it.

5. Graphics 75%; text 25%.  

logo of sign rite graphics company 

Mark Harrington -

1. Putting too much information on - less is definitely more.

2. There is no hard and fast on this, stick to corporate colours, silver on black looks nice, but so does a full digital wrap with lots of colours.

3. We use materials that can be removed hassle free within three years.

4. The rear, so it can be read in traffic.

5. Again, there is no hard and fast on this, it depends on what you are trying to achieve. Do you want to stand out from the crowd or do you have a simple message to get across

1. The most common mistake is not utilising the space correctly and putting too much or too little information on vehicles. When a vehicle is driving down the road you need brief info that people can remember as they will no doubt be driving themselves and you also need to make sure that it actually says what you do in some way because if your company name doesn’t give it away they won’t know.

2. I would say that 1 prominent main colour and a couple of complimentary colours works the best.

3. I would not recommend removable vinyl unless you only intend to have graphics on a vehicle for up to 6 months as after 6 months the removability begins to deteriorate meaning there is not much difference between that and normal vinyl.

4. The most common place to put a telephone number tends to be on the front door. I feel this is ideal as the space lends itself to small amounts of info and it also means if someone is pulled up next to a vehicle it prompts them to note it down easily.

5. The ratio between design and text entirely depends on the content. If the design conveys what the company does then less text is required whereas if the design is fairly generic it may require more text to portray what the company does.

Gary Barker -

1. Not designing it to fit van panels doors etc. (missing letters)

2. It's not the number of colours but how they intersect with each other.

3. It depends on how long you want to keep the van and where you are using it (Building site etc)

4. Side & rear doors (the most important area on any van is the back so you read it when in traffic)

5. 66.6% design x 33.3% text. The design must catch your attention and the text must give quick information.

Scott Thorburn -

1. Wanting too much information or always wanting big & bold

2. Maximum of 3.

3. Assuming you mean magnetics then only if there is a reason for it (e.g. sub-contracting where the main contractor will not let a sign written vehicle on site or you want to remain inconspicuous at weekend/evenings) but always prefer sign writing direct as it gives potential customers more confidence as it looks more of a permanent business and looks neater.

4. Always like to keep all contact details together and in a higher panel for clarity and not getting lost when the vehicle gets dirty. People can still read wording even if you cannot see every digit unlike phone numbers.

5. Do not put restrictions on this as you could argue either case (more graphics make it more eye catching but not good if it makes the details too small or large details can look less eye catching)

Stuart Anderson -

1. Sizing the layout.

2. One main and one secondary

3. They have their uses so depends on the circumstances.

4. Sides and the back.

5. Depends on the look the client wants but 60 design - 40 text.


Steve Savage -

1. We advise that any design should be created by an experienced designer and that the client should supply the brief only. If the client is not experienced with design software such as Illustrator etc. then usually the designer has to redraw and replan the layout resulting in time wasted and extra cost.

2. As many as the client wants as long as the brand looks professional.

3. All graphics are removable. This is the whole point so that once the vehicle has come off lease or is being resold then the graphics can be removed and the vehicle is back to original and keeps the value.

4. The main focal point is the rear on most vehicles and gets the most time in view from the person behind. call-to-action.

5. Brand 80% text 20% you only get 10 seconds to take in a moving advertisement hence a well thought out design will always be remembered rather than reading text.

1. Sending wrong format artwork and low resolution  artwork if photo type artwork is required. There are set formats that people like us need to create the graphics but not many people understand  this and send  a giff image down loaded off the internet thinking it will be good enough. It won't work. I include .pdf of what we send to clients but it needs some understanding of file formats.

2. 2-3 Some time simple is not try & put too much info on the van. Don't use too may different type faces. .  Colours that work together.

3. Yes for short term job No for long term Removable vinyl by there very nature do not last.  Most peole do not understand that there are 3 main types of vinyl with different properties & are made for different applications. You need a supplier who know the difference. Lots of people new in the trade do not understand the differences. Thats why you see some terrible vinyl graphics jobs because they wrong material has been used.

4. Sides & back when in traffic you often pull up close to the rear of a vehicle and have gtime to gtake the message in.

5. 80:20 (design:text) is a good shout but there is not hard and fast rule, it depends on what the customer has to show that looks effective.? Depends on lots of things...what is the message what artwork is available, what type of business. A undertaker would want a understated livery a fast delivery service would want something ''louder'' There has been studies in the USA that vehicle advertising is the most cost effective advertising a owner operator can have and invest in.

Glen Nichols -

1. Often to over complicating the design, If you allow a sign maker to design it, they should design it with maximum impact, but being very aware of economy & use of material for the most cost effective result. Basically, the message to put across is, who you are, what you do, & how to get hold of you!

2. One or Two.

3. A good quality vinyl will remove cleanly after years of use (we only use premium 8yr grade), if the vehicle is only for occasional business use, magnetic signs can be used, downside of these is they can be stolen, or lost if incorrectly fitted.

4. Usually side doors & rear, The rear doors are the ones drivers spend more time looking at in traffic

5. All depends on the actual design or logo, no set rules.

1. Using low resolution images.

2. No more than 3 on a single design.

3. No, they are only available in small sizes and the cost makes them much more expensive than just standard graphics.

4. Front doors and rear doors. it looks the neatest.

5. 50:50.  


Matthew Joel-Carter -

1. Not understanding the restrictions of applying graphics to curves and recesses in the vehicle body work.

2. With digital print now more common the use of colour is not really restricted.

3. Removable graphics are only removable for 1 year after that they are just as hard to remove as any other vinyl so unless it is a short promotion I wouldn't suggest removable.

4. The best place for the phone number is down the sides below the main panels as this is the most prominent place the eyes are looking at.

5. 60% graphic and 40% text.


Allan Hamilton -

1. All too often clients design a livery without taking into account the nuances of the specific vehicle. Things such as panel recess areas, location of lights/handles etc can all impact on the aesthetics of a good livery. When designing a livery make as much use of the space as you can and be bold in your design – after all you want to turn heads.

2. The world is your oyster when looking at colours. Modern print technology allows you to have photographic quality images on a van without paying a huge premium so you can be as creative as you like. If opting for a simple design or minimalist look then opting for contrasting colours is best as it stands out more.

3. That depends entirely on the purpose of the graphic – is it a temporary advertisement or a long term branding. There is a range of vinyls that can be used for vehicle graphics, each with a specific performance objective. If opting for something like a vehicle wrap then we always recommend high performance films as they have to conform to the curves and recesses of the van surface. Remember, the livery has to withstand the rigours of fleet operation so quality of materials should be your focus. It’s also important to remember that if you are leasing a vehicle then returning it in good condition is key. Better quality graphic films will remove significantly easier and quicker than cheaper alternatives. so unless it is a short promotion I wouldn't suggest removable.

4. Areas such as the rear of the van and main body of the van are best. Remember to keep contact details in an uncluttered area as these details have to be easy for the customer to see on the van. the eyes are looking at.

5. There is no hard and fast rule for this and effective design should incorporate both well. Just remember that the viewing distance will be approx. 6ft and the dwell time will be seconds so make sure any text is clear and easy to see.  


Stuart Prentice -

We hope our expert roundup came in handy and has armed you with the required information needed after choosing your van. If you are looking to lease a van for your business, our quote generator allows you to create customised quotations for every make and model of vehicle available in the UK...and of course we will be more than happy to assist you with any graphics or wraps you may want to apply on your brand new vehicle.

infographic demonstrating the 10 biggest design mistakes for vehicle graphics 10 biggest mistakes when designing vehicle graphics


First European Finance (Scotland) Limited trading as is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority as a credit broker, not a lender.
RFL House, Anderson Street, Dunblane, FK15 9AJ | FRN Number: 671818 | © 2018