Vehicle wraps are an incredibly challenging application to take on, but when it comes to big, more specialised wraps, the task becomes even harder for wrappers. Rob Fletcher speaks to large-format wrapping expert Aura Brand Solutions about working in this market.
When looking at examples of work from the vehicle wrapping market, you cannot help but marvel at the talent and creativity of those working in this sector. Be it wrapping a bus with specialist graphics for a local council, or even decorating a supercar with a glamorous design for an A-list celebrity, each job brings with it incredible innovation.
However, when it comes to large-scale wraps, such as those applied to trains, airplanes and even boats, the task becomes even harder. How do you ensure what when applied to the vehicle, all parts of the graphic match up as they should? What sort of materials can you rely on when producing such large graphics?
Caption: Aura Brand Solutions has wrapped trains, boats, tankers and buses
Step forward Aura Brand Solutions, a company based in the UK that specialises in not only vehicle wrapping, but large-format jobs in this sector, counting a number of major brands among its clients, including the likes of broadcast giant Sky, delivery and logistics company DPD, supermarket chain Waitrose and telecommunications firm Virgin Media.
Speaking exclusively to the FESPA Wrap Masters website, Stuart Day, sales and marketing director at Aura Brand Solutions, offers a unique insight into the business and outlines how it has come to specialise in large-scale vehicle wrapping.
Experience and innovation
Previously known as Aura Graphics and SSDM, Aura Brand Solutions has been operating since 1927, employing 135 people across its business that also include international brand implementation division GAMMA.
“We design, make, and deliver products and services to implement brand identity and experience, across a wide variety of assets. We do this principally using high performance print, graphic and refurbishment solutions,” Day said.
“Over the years we’ve packaged these with complementary services to deliver a full suite of flexible project solutions for rail, architectural, and road transportation markets. Some of the services we provide include an in-house design team, business strategy, marketing, online ordering portal, and site audits.”
So how did it all start for Aura Brand Solutions in terms of large-format wrapping work? Day said that as the company has been supplying and applying vehicles graphics over a number of decades, the company was one of the early adopters of digital printing and vehicle wrapping, thus giving it something of a head-start in this market.
Caption: Aura Brand Solutions employs 135 people across its business
“We specialise in the larger, more complex branding programs, where our significant production, installation and project management capabilities are best utilised, so large-scale wraps for rail, fleet or architectural projects has been something that we’ve always been involved with,” Day said.
“We get involved in a lot of large-scale fleet rebrands as they tend to be really interesting projects, and also give us opportunity to utilise our design team to produce original artwork.
“We’ve wrapped lots of weird and wonderful things over the years including trains, boats, tankers, buses, trams, buildings, window sills, fridges, charging points, doors, desks, tables, lifts and even coffins!”
Taking on the challenge
Looking more closely at this type of work, Day opens up on some of the main challenges of producing larger-format vehicle wraps and how Aura Brand Solutions overcomes these obstacles to produce quality work for high profile clients.
The main piece of advice Day offers is to have a good understanding of the vehicles that you will be working on and to actually see these vehicles in person before starting a new job, as without doing so, this could present significant problems further down the line.
“We all probably have experience of receiving artwork that we know won’t work in practice, so it’s important to take into account the nuances of the shape, size, make, model, vehicle furniture and any other features,” Day said.
“Other important considerations that we always take into account at Aura Brand Solutions include the location of the vehicles and access to them, as well as the application premises and existing condition of the vehicles.”
Taking this a step further, Day offers an insight into the type of materials that Aura Brand Solutions works with on larger-format projects. He said for fleet branding work, it uses HP Latex printers, and also use a variety of films and vinyls, dependent on the application and the customer’s preference.
In terms of the particular wrapping material, Day said that the company benefits from a working relationship with 3M, using the 3M Envision Print Wrap Film 480 on several project.
“We’re starting to see more customers asking for 3M Envision Print Wrap Film 480,” Day said. “The film is a non-PVC, environmentally friendly alternative for printing large-format graphics, and as the majority of our digital machines also now use UV-based ink, this has reduced our solvent emissions enormously.
Planning for growth
Looking to the future and where the large-format vehicle graphics market could be headed, Day said demand for this type of work is likely to increase as more brands turn to vehicle graphics as a way of freely promoting their products via lorries out on the road.
“You also still see a lot of fleets on the road that have yet to embrace the potential of branding/advertising, so this will soon become a focus – of companies trying to provide a more unified brand image through their vehicles,” he said.
“Also, there is a rise in customers asking for more sustainable options, so this will only increase over the coming years.”
Though perhaps a trickier application type than smaller-format work, large-scale vehicle graphics projects certainly offer a potential new source of revenue for those active in this market.
If you have the capabilities to print such large graphics and have the knowledge required to apply them with accuracy, then more wrapping work could be on the horizon for you and your business.