I have to admit that when it came to the newest marketing tool of wrapping your vehicle, I was extremely skeptical. Having dealt with vinyl decals for years in the collision industry, I was well aware of the difficulty of installation and removal. This, as well as the damage they can do to the finish when they are removed, made me very wary and not one to either do it, or recommend it.
One of my good friends, Mike Bothwell, owns Compelling Signs in Tucker, GA, and was well aware of my cynicism. He contacted me recently regarding another matter, and mentioned that he was going to redo the wrap on his car. I was intrigued. He invited me to his shop to observe and I was excited to participate and learn more.
Mike had an American flag on the hood of his Acura that had been installed about two years ago. After some discussion about the new design, we were going to remove the old and begin the new. the new design was a carbon fiber looking material for the hood, top, and rear deck. The sides are going to be matte black with his company logo overlayed.
The first step of removing the existing wrap had me on my toes, but all it took was peeling back a corner and then carefully pulling the rest off the hood. What remained was some of the adhesive used to insure the edges remained stuck. This residue was cleaned with a citrus solution and them wiped down with alcohol. The revealed hood was pristine. It took very little time, and if he were not installing a new wrap, the vehicle could continue it’s life as though it has never been covered. I was delighted, and somewhat amazed, since this same procedure with old vinyl would have been a long, frustrating process.
Since the new hood piece was not going to have any graphics, the 3M material could be taken straight from the roll, cut to make sure it covered, and the new installation began. Mike’s tech, Jason, took the lead in the project. We folded the mater back on itself and began to remove the backing. Once this was done, the real artistry began.
The new materials are amazing. They can stretch and be heated to reduce if you go too far. Rather than being stuck when a bubble or wrinkle appears. you can just pull it up and pull at that area and the problem disappears. This is plastic rather than vinyl, so it has a memory and is much more resilient and forgiving. To Mike and Jason’s credit, they were extremely patient with me. I had a plethora or questions they answered with aplomb and never got frustrated. The materials used are extremely durable, and when installed correctly will not peel off in traffic or weather, and will last 5-7 years depending upon which material you choose. If you use the 3M product, it is warranted by the manufacturer.
I learned that the only limitation to a wrap is your imagination. Most of them are “printable”, which means that whatever you are promoting can be put on the material before it is installed on the vehicle. As you can see from the pictures below, the hood on the Acura was just plain carbon fiber, while the Ale Yeah wrap, for which Compelling Signs won a national award, is very detailed.
This technology has come a long way from putting magnetic signs on your vehicle, and it much more eye catching. The cost to completely wrap a vehicle can range from $2000-$4000 and would constitute a big part of your marketing budget, but with the right design and proper installation, would certainly enhance your image.
However, commercial reasons are not the only applications. If you are a “car nut”, you can customize your vehicle with this process just as easily, without advertising. My two favorite patterns are the carbon fiber and matte black. I watched a video where a MINI had it’s top, rings around headlights, mirrors, and fender moldings covered in matte black and it really differentiated it from the norm. As you know, we MINI owners are always wanting to have the most unique vehicle on the road.
I want to let you that even a hard headed cynic like me can learn new things and change their mind about something when presented with the entire story. Thank you Mike and Jason of Compelling Signs.