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Wrap Industry… Your Thoughts?

Discussion in 'Polls' started by Joe Diaz, Jul 13, 2008.

How many of us are doing wraps...

  1. full time, nothing else, just wraps?

    5 vote(s)
  2. once a week?

    9 vote(s)
  3. once a month?

    27 vote(s)
  4. have only done a few?

    47 vote(s)
  5. none at all?

    55 vote(s)
  1. Joe Diaz

    Joe Diaz Very Active Member

    I ask this, because I wonder how lucrative this niche market really is. Do the people that do wraps more then once a week only live in more urban areas? And if so have you always been just a wrap company, or did your sign company evolve into just a wrap business?

    Do you think the excitement over wraps is nothing more then a selling spree by suppliers to sell us sign artist thousands of dollars worth of wrap equipment, wrap classes and wrap materials? Or, are they simply responding to the demand for such products and services? Or is it a little of both?

    Are wraps even a positive form of advertising? I personally think so, but it depends on if the wrap is content driven or not. It’s true that they are eye catching, but how long before the shock and freshness of the wrap scene wares off and they start to have equal or lesser impact then lower cost super graphics, or partial wraps? How long do you think it will be before customers realizes the low return of their investments in poorly designed, non content driven or poor contrasting wraps and start seeing all wraps in the same way?

    Is there a place to go, to learn proper design and advertising techniques, before sign novice shop owners jump into the wrap industry? Are forums like this the best place to learn? Are their classes on the design principals and effective wrap advertisement design?

    I prefer to think that the wrap industry is still in its infancy and there are a lot of mistakes… and at the same time, a lot of positive things happening. I think over time, as this industry matures, wraps will become fewer but still remain a force in the sign industry. But being the worrying guy that I am, I worry that if we aren’t careful, this niche market might burn out as fast as it arrived. We need to make sure that everyone knows that wraps are still a design oriented industry, and in my opinion, even more so then signs. If proper design techniques aren’t used, we may do harm to the reputation of what wraps truly are and can be.

    What are your thoughts on the wrap industry? It’s a popular subject on these forums, and I’m interested to hear what you all think.
  2. Techman

    Techman Major Contributor

    Jun 24, 2003
    As with every thing,, Especially FADS.

    IF the market remains in control and limits the out put.. Wraps will be around a long time. and remain effective as an attention getting device.

    However, when the market gets saturated with wraps delivered at minimum wage at such a low cost any one cold have one by any yahoo with a printer then wraps will go the way of any other fad.

    If the desperate drop prices much more soon too many will have a wrap. Even worse too many will have poorly laid out designs with craziness that permeates the vinyl quicky cheapy arena.
  3. Rick

    Rick Certified Enneadecagon Designer

    Apr 17, 2003
    Valle Vista
    I grunted for a "automotive graphic design consultant" and a designer for wrap company 12 years ago. One thing I noticed is that very few were doing it because the cost was way out of reach for the majority of "regular" sign shops. I think at that time most wrap shops were established in design and install skills so on average, design "may" have been better. With the advancement in cheaper inkjet technologies it means anyone with 25k can make wraps compared to the 75-100k of 10-15 years ago. Another thing is the speed involved. I remember 10-20 minute saves or 8-10 hour spool times for a bus wrap. We can do it in 1/8 the time now. So every move you made back in the day had to be thought out a little bit.

    What is nice about todays technology is that a "thinking" designer has more time to explore other design options.

    Wrap design falls into the same realm as graphic design. If you don't follow some version of the design process, then you will fall back on Photoshop filter and clip-art solution design fluff. There is nothing wrong with filters and clip-art, but sad to say, I see this too much, content and clever design take a back seat to the shiny filter clip-art fluff... and now more fluffy designers have the cheaper technology to wrap a car with it.

    Is there a place to go, to learn proper design and advertising techniques, before sign novice shop owners jump into the wrap industry?


    Are forums like this the best place to learn?

    Depends on the persons ability to apply the information, but I think the process is a little too complicated to learn it by just reading a forum.

    Are their classes on the design principals and effective wrap advertisement design?

    I have seen some at sign shops but don't know if they are any good. i think it takes more than a weekend class or 2 hours at a show.
  4. Shovelhead

    Shovelhead Major Contributor

    Dec 5, 2003
    Total fad niche.
  5. Rollie

    Rollie Very Active Member

    Dec 20, 2007
    Ontario Canada
    That's what they said about the home computer.
    I think it's here to stay in some form or other.

    Next thing is to add lighting to it (already in the works I hear)
  6. Shovelhead

    Shovelhead Major Contributor

    Dec 5, 2003
    Computers: affordable, fairly necessary and has no alterntive
    Wraps: expensive.....other alternatives
  7. Capital Signs

    Capital Signs Very Active Member

    Mar 24, 2008
  8. Shovelhead

    Shovelhead Major Contributor

    Dec 5, 2003
    It's hard enough selling an expensive wrap. Now add illumination??!! :rolleyes:
    I'm willing to bet that the cowboy at Fellers, in time, will wish he didn't
    emphasis wraps as much as he does now.
    We were doing bus wraps in '98 and thought, along with lenticular, was going to be the wave
    of the future by now. The bus market died here soon after that.
    What's that about "all your eggs in one basket"?
  9. TheSnowman

    TheSnowman Major Contributor

    Aug 28, 2007
    He's not out anything. He's the one that pushed it, and if it's such a common thing, I'd think he just makes more money, cause everyone will be buyin' more media. That's why they push, keeping your printer printing all day, cause that means you make money, which means they make money.
  10. OldPaint

    OldPaint Major Contributor

    just take an overview of the VINYL PLOTTER history from 1984 till now.
    thats 24 yrs........and its been so over done by all the wanabees..........its not the vehicle it was. lot of shops do only that and stay alive.
    with the AVAILABILITY OF PRINTERS...all the wanabees jumped on the bandwagon...quicker faster easier way to make a lot of money fast!!!!!!
    wellllllllll. now you got the problem of over saturation of a product, produced by people with no real talent, or business sence. just having the PRINTER and keepin it spittin out prints is all they wana do AT ANY PRICE....as long as they can make their RENT AND LEASE PAYMENTS!!!!!!
    to easy for to many with nothing to give to the product for the market available!!!!!!!!!
    i gto race car guys tellin me they can have their race cars WRAPPED FOR $500-700.00!!!!! i used to hand letter em.....and with no overhead..........get $150-$400!!!!!!
    do i want to compete HELL NO.
    ANNNNNNNNNNDDDDDDD.........THE downhill side of it WONT TAKE 20 YEARS.....as most can see now after less then 10 yrs.
  11. Joe Diaz

    Joe Diaz Very Active Member

    Now this illuminated vinyl has me thinking even more (oh no! look out). I remember seeing this product a few years back. A big part of me sees such a cool and creative product and it gets my gears spinning. But a smaller part of me thinks, “we need to be careful here.”

    A product like this just screams for PC government types to get involved. History has seen this happen to the sign industry before. Ask the old school sign makers what happened to the bill board sign industry before them. Our how about the effects of government’s involvement in the paints we use.

    In my town, as of today, we have a lot of sign codes and restrictions in place… No illuminated signs downtown, only a certain square footage of store front can be used for advertisements and much more… but, no restrictions on vehicle advertisements. Which is a nice selling tool for us.

    I think illuminated vehicle graphics could be consider by some a hazardous, moving road distraction. I feel like it’s only a matter of time before the government slams the hammer down on this idea, if they haven’t tried to already. This kind of worries me. Next, they will then start evaluating full wraps, then vehicle advertising in general. We should tread lightly in this territory. I think this is a wonderful idea with a lot of potential, but seeing how the government has acted towards our industry in the past, I wouldn’t be surprised if restrictions are put in place in the near future. Then some of us may have no choice but to watch the wrap industry wither and die.
  12. Ken

    Ken Major Contributor

    Feb 7, 2005
  13. jasonx

    jasonx Very Active Member

    Aug 5, 2007
    I think if the industry allows prices to drop to low which allows sub standard work to get out then the effectiveness of wraps is diminished along with the markets willingness to use it.

    I think it will always have its place as vehicle signage especially as inkjet technology has progressed.
  14. andy

    andy Active Member

    Aug 19, 2004
    Wraps make a lot of money for printer manufacturers, ink suppliers, vinyl companies and specialist distributors.

    I wonder how many people who spend big to "do" wraps have ever actually worked on a few before hand. I've done plenty or wrapping projects and it's not for me- it's a tedious, boring, time consuming process which I hate.

    If earning a decent hourly rate is important to you I can think of easier ways to earn a living.

    The theory and practice of wrapping only works if you have customers who understand and are willing to pay a realistic price- if not you are simply replacing cut vinyl with a more labour intensive alternative.

    A classy wrap looks the business BUT it really is all about the money. Illuminated wraps- maybe allowed in the states but almost certainly won't be in Europe.
  15. trakers

    trakers Very Active Member

    Mar 31, 2007
    Man, thay be one of the most annoying websites I have ever visited in over 10 years.

    The website (and the product it is pimping for that matter) ignites some sort of basal anger.

    I'd be scared to death to have a vehicle with that stuff applied as I'd guess it would get keyed repeatedly.

    I suppose it would be appropriate in Las Vegas though.

  16. Rollie

    Rollie Very Active Member

    Dec 20, 2007
    Ontario Canada
    Computers: used to be expensive and not that necessary.
    Wraps: probably will get cheaper unfortunately.
  17. JD3

    JD3 Member

    Aug 12, 2003
    I'm sure the wrap business could be lucrative to someone with the ability to create a well rounded advertising campaign -- as opposed to just a vinyl wrap.

    I think a well designed, well striped van with a good logo would outsell a wrapped van any day. The problem is most people don't know how to properly execute a well rounded wrap that will attract an audience. I'd say that probably 10% of those creating wraps are creating effective wraps.

    Everyone wants to throw terrible tacky clipart backgrounds on, and then layer and filter and blend and drop shadow out the butt. The problem is, when people create wraps in photoshop most of them don't know how to bring vectorized artwork into photoshop. They get lazy and use the Photoshop type tool, instead of going back to the fundamentals of their sign design software, exporting and importing designed text -- instead of basic text.

    I think you could teach people how to use the tools to do a wrap, but a good eye is something that isn't learned. You either got it or you don't.

    But, I'm from jersey. The trucks you see driving down the highway are all first class pieces that could (easily) be on any signcraft cover. The talent in this area is ridiculous, imo. So it's difficult for me to imagine some of these landscaping trucks rolling around with a photo of trees on the bed of it -- as opposed to hand painted scroll work and great airbrush fades.

    But what do i know? lol.
  18. Merritt Big Color

    Merritt Big Color Merchant Member

    I hardly consider wraps are in its infancy. We have been doing them for 14 years now.

    If anything it a over saturated industry with every shop that has a capable printer calling themselves experts.

    It also by no means is a niche market but a robust profitable industry that accounts for more than half of our production.

    It is also a very competitive market even for the one off wraps. So the margin will keep going down for the service provider both printers and eventually the installers.

    We do not do any design so it is hard for me to comment on the integrity of a good design and its advertising effect for the end user.
  19. Checkers

    Checkers Very Active Member

    Jul 24, 2003
    Hiya Joe,
    I didn't read the other comments, but, I'll answer most of your questions - based on my experience.
    First, I live and work in a metropolitan area and service a broad spectrum of clients, both retail and wholesale, that range in location from inner city to rural areas.

    Also, I don't do many "wraps", and I still consider the business a sign company that offers a full range of advertising services, including wraps and graphic installations on all types of vehicles. Since I don't own a printer, I don't push wraps, but I'm happy to provide this service if the client requests it.

    Most of the clients I deal with state that they're primarily interested in wraps or similar because it is a memorable form of advertising that allows them to showcase their products and/or services in a positive way.

    The second most popular reason for requesting wraps is because of restrictive sign codes don't permit an adequate sign to identify their business. Since commercial vehicles aren't subject to sign ordinances, this is a good alternative to promote their business.

    Finally, some understand the importance of advertising, marketing and promotion and realize that vehicle graphics and wraps are an excellent and affordable way to promote their business in their service area.

    Are wraps a fad created by suppliers and manufacturers? No and Yes. I've been installing large format graphics since I got into this business in 1992. So, the demand has always been there. However, back then, few could afford it and there were fewer shops that could execute it. Now, since the barriers to entry are much lower, and there is a lot more competition between equipment and media manufacturers, there is a lot more "hype" created by the manufacturers, promoting their specific products or processes.

    When properly executed and maintained, wraps are well received. But, since the cost of acquiring equipment has come down significantly, and many more are entering into the business, there is a lot more "trash" being generated by amateurs, which reflects poorly on the industry. It's unfortunate that, just like restaurants, the bad gets more publicity than the good.

    While there is a lot of training available to learn wraps, I don't know of any company that offers the full spectrum of proper "A to Z" training. But, in an industry changing so quickly and with so many variables, I don't think anyone can develop an effective all "inclusive program". So, a combination of learning sources would be required to totally understand the business of "wraps". Also, I don't think one person can know and do it all – well and be profitable.

    I think the wrap industry is just hitting puberty and just like growing up, there are going to be some awkward and embarrassing moments. As the industry matures, I think the ones that excel will be the businesses with a good balance of business skills, plus old and new school sign and graphic design talent.

  20. cdiesel

    cdiesel Very Active Member

    Jan 28, 2005
    Phoenix, AZ
    I don't believe wraps are a fad, but I do believe the wrap industry is going through some major changes. With the proliferation of equipment and materials, along with the popularity of wraps, the market is becoming flooded with unqualified "experts" offering sub-standard work (both design & install) for less money. Fellers, and many other wholesalers are in part to blame for this. One local company here had a "Start your own sign company" theme on their wrap. I sat and talked with the owners about that one, and asked them this:
    Do you really want to have hundreds of inexperienced people fighting for the few crumbs that are out there, or do you want to help your core customers succeed? Sure, they might sell a few more printers, but they're hurting their established shops as the rest of us will have to compete with these new guys selling for pennies out of their garages.
    It's been said a million times on here already. You can sell yourself on lots of different things. Price should not be one of them. Selling a well executed design, with a solid installation and customer service is what will keep this segment of the industry going.

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