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Printing Industry Exchange (printindustry.com) is pleased to have Steven Waxman writing and managing the Printing Industry Blog. As a printing consultant, Steven teaches corporations how to save money buying printing, brokers printing services, and teaches prepress techniques. Steven has been in the printing industry for thirty-three years working as a writer, editor, print buyer, photographer, graphic designer, art director, and production manager.

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Custom Printing: The Power of Large Format Print

My fiancee and I were driving to an appointment yesterday, when we saw a delivery truck parked diagonally in a lot. Normally that would not have raised an eyebrow for either of us, but the large format print sign on the side of the truck was facing the oncoming traffic at the perfect angle to position its message towards anyone driving up the pike.

The ad was for kitchen appliances. I took a photo with my smartphone so I could study the image later and consider exactly why I thought it made for such good advertising.

First of all, the sign included the company logo and a bright photo of sample kitchen appliances highlighted in red (a color certain to catch the eye of oncoming drivers). It included the price (in red type on a black background), the URL for the company’s website, and a tagline reversed to white on the red background. All type was set in a simple, bold, sans serif face.

Beyond the powerful nature of the ad on the side of the truck, my fiancee and I both thought about the implications of such signage:

  1. After all, the company that owned the truck presumably neither had to pay rent for the advertising venue nor get approval from the local government authority for its display. I may be wrong, but it seems like he or she was getting prime advertising exposure for free. Should anyone complain, he or she could just move the truck and capture an entirely new set of onlookers, many of whom might be interested in kitchen appliances.
  2. Beyond township permit issues and advertising charges, the idea of an ad on a truck reflected the fact that a fixed sign such as a billboard (which would be the nearest equivalent) would only be seen by select individuals driving on a particular route. Mobile signage could be repositioned as needed to vary the demographic exposed to its message.
  3. Similar advertising tactics are reflected in the use of bus graphics, fleet graphics, car wraps, and even the much older practice of mounting double-sided signs on flatbed trucks (the driver’s equivalent of a fabric sign tied to a small plane at the beach). All of these not only display the promotional message as a large format print, but they also can vary the audience exposure as needed.

The Target Store Trucks with Their Red Bulls-Eyes

Moments later my fiancee and I saw two Target trucks unloading inventory into a large, beige Target store. The red bulls-eye logo on the trucks echoed the bulls eye on the side of the building. I’m sure all of these logos could be read from low-flying aircraft. In fact, if you had removed the name of the company and had just kept the bulls-eye logo in that particular red color, you would still have had an immediately recognizable icon.

What You Can Learn from These Observations

Here are some thoughts you can bring to your own large format print design work.

  1. It takes work to link a logo to its brand attributes in the minds of your target audience. Much of this work involves consistent exposure. That said, be mindful of the viewer you wish to influence and consider how best to approach him/her. Large format print signage is an excellent approach. However, it’s important to consider not just your message but also the consumer. How can you capture his/her interest, and where will your best venue for exposure be?
  2. The color red was integral to both the roadside truck sign and the Target store logo. Both stood out dramatically. Consider the blue in the IBM logo and the orange in the Home Depot logo. Even by themselves, these colors can bring to mind the two companies due to the consistent pairing of the color with the logo. In your own work, consider how well your logo colors will stand out, and be aware of what attributes people will associate with the colors (the color green is often associated with natural food stores, for instance).
  3. Be bold and creative with your marketing initiatives. You may have qualms about leaving a truck-sign in a parking lot to get (presumably) free advertising, but consider wrapping a car with a vinyl, ink jetted car wrap and paying someone to drive it around advertising your company. If you can coordinate this with an Internet initiative and perhaps a radio spot, all the better.

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