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Archive for the ‘Bumper Stickers and Decals’ Category

Custom Printing: Make Your Mark with a Bumper Sticker

Sunday, December 11th, 2022

Photo purchased from …

Think of a bumper sticker as a miniature billboard. You can share your message with every driver who winds up behind your car. Or, as the photo above suggests, you can broadcast an almost unlimited number of messages at once. It’s a cheap way to advertise. In fact, you can even make a few bumper stickers at home on an inkjet printer or a Cricut personal die cutter.

Design Issues to Consider

Unless a driver is caught behind you in gridlock traffic on a snowy day, with your bumper sticker visible potentially for hours, you have a small window of opportunity to make a big impression. So think simple. One provocative image and a few words. Your viewer shouldn’t have to think about it. However, if it’s humorous–if it includes a play on words–all the better.

Readability is paramount. That means typeface choice is important. I’ve read that serif typefaces are easier to read than sans-serif faces, but with only a few words on a bumper sticker, to me that choice is less important. What is important is to set the type in one line, ideally, with reasonable letterspacing, in uppercase and lowercase letters.

Why uppercase and lowercase letters? Because we don’t read words letter by letter. We read them based on their shape, the contour around the letters. We absorb a word as a single unit. Setting copy in all capital letters makes all words into a rectangle (there are no ascenders and/or descenders in the letterforms to give the word a unique shape). That makes the word much harder to absorb.

Now for the colors. Keep colors vibrant, and be mindful of the contrast between color values (light and dark). Remember that type reversed out of a solid color (or type set in a color) is harder to read than type printed in black ink. Moreover, type printed in a color can be too light to read easily and quickly. The most readable contrast for type is black type on a white background.

That said, since you probably want to add color, just make sure the words will be dark enough to read, ideally from a distance. For instance, light green may look great as a swatch in a PMS book, but once you reduce the ink coverage to the thin and graceful lines of a typeface (rather than a square ink swatch), the text may look much lighter than you expect. This alone may be a good reason to use a blocky sans-serif typeface (rather than a serif face) for the text of your bumper sticker. You won’t have to worry that the thin serifs of a serif typeface will be invisible.

On a final note, consider the logistics of reading a bumper sticker. Your reader will be in a car a certain distance behind you. Both of you will be driving at a good clip and focusing on other things. Fortunately, your viewer will be directly behind you, unlike a driver who sees a banner on the side of a building or sees a billboard at a distance (and perhaps an angle). That said, the bumper sticker will be much smaller than the billboard or fabric banner hanging from the side of a building. Keep all of this in mind when you choose the wording and image for the bumper sticker as well as the typeface and colors.

When in doubt, print out a color copy on your inkjet printer, and look at it from a number of angles and distances.

Commercial Printing Issues to Consider

Durability is paramount for bumper stickers. After all, unlike a brochure, they’re going to be exposed to the elements, the UV rays of the sun, the rain, the snow, even the salt thrown up onto your car by other winter drivers.

Therefore, talk with your commercial printing representative when you print your bumper stickers. Ask about the substrate, for starters. You will probably want some kind of vinyl rather than a wood-based paper. At the very least, synthetic paper like Yupo would withstand exposure to the rain better.

This also pertains to the types of inks used. They will need to tolerate moisture, street chemicals, and sunlight. In addition, you may need some kind of coating to protect the bumper stickers, something like a laminate. Your custom printing vendor will be a great resource when you’re making these decisions.

Next is the adhesive. The bumper sticker has to stay on your bumper and not peel off. As a personal anecdote, I once had a bumper sticker I liked (and that I assumed was close to permanent). It was actually printed on paper, and the adhesive wasn’t very good. So overall the bumper sticker didn’t last very long. Moreover, it looked ugly as the type and image gradually wore away and the paper started peeling up.

Unlike banners that might be on display for only a short time, a bumper sticker really has to be durable and has to stay attached to the car.

So ask your printer about adhesives as well as custom printing stocks and inks.

Doing It Yourself

If you need 1,000 bumper stickers, you will probably have them offset printed. If you need 300 bumper stickers, you will probably have them digitally printed on inkjet equipment (with appropriate inks and substrates).

But if you only need a handful of bumper stickers, you still have options. You can research inks and vinyl bumper sticker substrates for your personal inkjet equipment. These are available. You just need to do a little research. For instance, you may need to select specific vinyl bumper sticker blanks, use special inks, and/or laminate the bumper sticker to protect it.

Moreover, you can even die cut odd shapes and sizes of bumper stickers using a Cricut personal die cutting machine (available in craft stores such as Michaels). These cut the vinyl with a moving knife blade in the Cricut die cutting machine using digital information from your computer application. Then you just “weed” the die cut bumper stickers (i.e., peel away the waste vinyl using a sharp tool).

Although this will pertain to professionally produced bumper stickers as well, when you print your own bumper stickers it will be prudent to apply them using a credit card to rub down the bumper stickers. This will ensure good contact between the sticker and the bumper, while forcing the air bubbles toward the edges of the sticker, where they can be released. (If you do this, first cover the bumper sticker with wax paper to keep from marring its surface.) This will help extend the life of the bumper sticker on your car.

The Takeaway

Your company image is of paramount importance, and a bumper sticker is an ad for your company. Make sure you select a custom printing technology (ideally commercial printing rather than do-it-yourself printing), a substrate, inks, adhesives, and a coating for the bumper stickers, if any, that will ensure that your bumper stickers look good for a long time. (In my online research I noticed a 3- to 5-year guarantee from some companies on their commercially printed bumper stickers.) It would be wise to keep this in mind and to think about how long you want the bumper sticker to remain pristine. Make sure your commercial printing vendor is knowledgeable in this printing arena. (In fact, I’d check for printers who specialize in this kind of work.)

Don’t cut corners with your bumper sticker printing. Consider it an investment rather than an expense. This way you won’t be disappointed, and the condition of your bumper stickers will project an image of crispness and quality rather than discoloration and decay.

Custom Label Printing Options

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

Custom label printing is sexy. No, really. Here are two quotes from (from “Resilience Shown by Label Industry As Positive Signs Predict Growth in 2012-2013”): (more…)


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