Pyramid Visuals

Posts tagged ‘vehicle branding’

Pyramid Visuals have taken on some of the big brand names in recent history, producing work for Audi, Costa, Greenpeace and currently Sky. It has been both interesting and challenging for me as a new employee, in understanding my part in the organisation process of such a large project. We embarked on this project at the end of 2010, as one by one, each Sky vehicle reached us to undergo its transformation process.

Having been involved in the management and administration of such a project, I can now share with you some of my experience here at Pyramid Visuals….

In the beginning…

25 promotional vehicles in total passed through our hands at Pyramid over recent months, including Vauxhall Zafiras, Smart cars and a few exhibition Lorries. Each vehicle with its existing wrapping was dropped off to us by an independent driver, checked over, and signed in with me, at Reception.

Each vehicle was then inspected by a team of sub-contractors. Ken Priddy (of Ken Priddy Sound ,Lighting, Communication,) temporarily set up base in our hanger next door, where he and his team instigated the process of assessing each vehicle, testing and repairing the internal Hi-Tech equipment.

And so…

One by one, each vehicle was moved into the factory where our team began to strip the old vinyl. The vehicles had originally been completely wrapped, and the process of removal was a lengthy one!
Once this had been achieved, the vehicle was then cleaned and prepared for the next stage…

As part of this project, our Graphic Designers had reviewed and modified the artwork supplied by Sky. This ensured the artwork would fit the vehicle’s individual dimensions and minimise material wastage, once printed.

Having ensured Sky and the team were happy with the artwork, it was then sent down to the production factory where it was reproduced using our HP5000 printer. We chose to print onto Avery 1900, a vinyl suitable for temporary wrapping but also durable, due to its quality and finish.
Our fitters then embarked on applying the vinyl to the vehicle, as each panel was printed off. Once complete the vehicle was returned back to the hanger to await a full valet.

After the remaining vehicles had undergone the transformation process, it was then time for some of the fleet to leave us and return to Sky. Independent drivers slowly began to filter back in, and it was my responsibility to ensure each vehicle had been checked and signed out before the keys were handed over.
The remaining vehicles were retained in our hanger until Sky returned with their production team…

Sky used our premises to film their latest training video for internal purposes, and spent a few days alongside us. Once enough material had been filmed, the last few vehicles were then signed out, and the project drew to a close.

It has been fascinating for me to observe how such a task is managed, organised and controlled. There are many people involved in each stage of the process, from the signing in of each vehicle, through to purchasing and ordering, production of artwork, printing, and fitting the new vinyl.
I now possess a deeper understanding of the processes involved, and fully appreciate the organisational aspect, having played my part.

As another successful project is complete, so our business continues to thrive here at Pyramid Visuals… We can be sure to see Sky again in the near future!

For more information and quotations please contact our team on 01932 33 88 99.

Hannah Clark

Hub Cap Adverts are the newest innovation in mobile marketing transforming your car or vans wheels into eye-catching mobile advertisements, with pedestrians, drivers and shoppers staring at your vehicle branding.  The unique patented wheel cover of Hub Cap Adverts has been specifically designed not to rotate with the wheel.

Your advertisement stays constantly upright and readable at any speed, so Mini or Ferrari, your vehicle turns into a valuable marketing tool in promoting your business, services or products and in line with your marketing strategy.

The non-rotating wheel cover replaces traditional hubcaps on your chosen car or van to create an

eye-catching advertisement that remains stationary while the car is in motion.

Use Hub Cap Adverts to display your company logo, website address, promotions or photos and give your company a competitive advantage.

Turn the wheels of your company cars, fleet vehicles and taxis into a powerful branding medium that is so clever and unique, they will make people stare!

Hub Caps Adverts can be fitted to any car or van of your choice. Turn fleet vehicles, delivery vans, company cars or even hire cars and taxis into a valuable travelling advertisement.

Click on the images below for a large view.

Having been badly let down by a previous vinyl wrapping supplier, Pyramid Visuals were contacted in something of a panic to try and help rectify a predicament a client had been dropped in. With less than half a week to go to meet the deadline for a large outdoor event, we were tasked with digitally printing and wrapping 10 contemporary-styled Rickshaws in bespoke Arsenal / O2 branding.
All seemed well on the face of it – the deadline was unrealistically tight, our fitting diary was totally booked out for the remainder of the week leaving no space to squeeze the job in, the Rickshaws were delivered still partially wrapped from a previous job and as for the material being in stock, we simply didn’t have time to wait for new stock to be delivered. So a fairly routine job it was then …!
Having re-jigged the fitting diary, pacified many concerned Pyramid employees about the limited turnaround time, stripped the vehicles in preparation for rebranding wrap and sourced enough material to do the job, we waited for the artwork to be sent through … and we waited and waited and waited.
Finally, with a day and a half to go until the job was due to be unveiled to the public, the artwork was eventually sent to Pyramid and the professional yet slightly ‘frantic’ printing and subsequent fitting session began – and continued long into the evening. The following day, the client decided to pay an adhoc visit to our offices to inspect the quality of print and the quality of Pyramid’s fitting capabilities – as the previous suppliers hadn’t been able to achieve the correct colour shades or achieve a good enough finish for the end client.
Upon leaving Pyramid’s premises the client not only expressed their appreciation at the speed and professionalism in overcoming the many hurdles that we’d been presented with, but also commented that they were so impressed with the manner in which Pyramid had reacted so efficiently and the quality of finished product witnessed that they were to use Pyramid Visuals as their preferred supplier for all future business.
Rick, Pyramid Visuals – Sept 2010

June 2010  –  Pyramid Visuals were approached by a TV production company who required three lorries to be branded for the shooting of the new Crunchy Nut advertisement.  Having carried out a site visit of the vehicles, we provided our expertise as to the logistics involved in delivering the job on time and in budget, the correct choice of material to use – a substrate that could be easily applied / removed given the tight turnaround of 3 days from start to finish of the job, colour matching the vinyl in line with the product branding, how the vehicles would be branded by our professional in-house fitters and providing CG visuals by our in-house studio of how the vehicles would look when branded.  Each vehicle was initially sprayed with a base cleanser to ensure the vinyl would successfully bond to the bodywork and then wrapped on all sides using a specifically colour-matched Avery vinyl.  Once complete, Kellogg’s Crunchy Nut branded cut vinyl decals were applied over the top of the base vinyl in accordance with the artwork and the Crunchy Nut branding.  The three vehicles were completely wrapped, branded and ready for filming in 3 working days.  After filming, the three vehicles were subsequently returned to Pyramid Visuals to be stripped of all branding and returned to their original condition and colour – a process that took 2 working days to complete.

If you haven’t seen it yet, below is the advert that aired on TV

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aBoLauicqfw

Take a quick behind the scenes look at the prepping and wrapping of the vehicles, watch this video

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XyllFBTBopA

Seven of the industry’s finest came together in November to discuss all things wide-format in the inaugural Image Reports Widthwise Round Table. The idea was to open debate on the real-life issues that affect printers in the sector. The participants did not hold back..

Equipment service and development issues, threats to business, opportunities for growth, predications for 2009 – all of these topics and more became a hot-bed of debate among key industry players at the first Image Reports Round Table held in London in November.

The purpose of this inaugural event was to discuss the points raised in the WidthWise Report, commissioned by this magazine as the first ever survey of the UK wide-format market and published at the beginning of the year, and to provide a backdrop to the next Widthwise Report which will be published in 2009. As anticipated, first-hand knowledge of running companies in the wide-format sector meant there was no shortage of thought-provoking feedback from panel members who, perhaps surprisingly given these straightened economic times, were rather upbeat about levels of business.

To ensure that no stone was left unturned, the discussion was broken down into various sections. Here’s how things played out…

Economy/threats:
“Macro Art moved three years ago behind a row of trees and the credit crunch zoomed down the road and didn’t see us,” said a bullish John Walker. “Our volumes are up 20%, our net profit is up 75% and we may be in for our best year ever. All our areas of business are growing strongly.”

In particular, Walker pointed to the successful introduction to its portfolio of anti-graffiti lacquer, saying that 23% of Macro Art’s turnover now demands its use. He also highlighted an outdoor display that with one switch can turn it from a day to a night-time product.

Grabbing a slice of the EU export market has also helped the company along. “We have a growing export market – the Euro/Pound exchange rate has been a gift to us,” he enthused. The company also recently made the bold move of raising prices, and added a flat-rate delivery charge as a disguised recovery fee for the price hikes it has seen in inks and substrates costs.

“I seem to live in two different worlds: during the day I inhabit a world where things are going OK, and then I go home to this world full of media coverage about how we’re all going into recession. Things may be harder that they should be for some, but we’re not facing the desperate scenario much talked about.”

This was a feeling echoed around the table, but with words of caution about times ahead from some. “I think the doom and gloom has been overhyped, but if you look at the financial fundamentals they have been shaken and the shockwaves are still coming. I haven’t seen a general slowdown in work, but a stuttering, spluttering effect and I think we’re going to get more heart attack moments as the world faces more economic shocks. My fear is that we’ll get irrational finance based decisions on cutting marketing budgets that will impact on us down the line,” said Stephen Hood.

For now, things aren’t looking as bleak as generally suggested. A number of people said they too had managed to raise prices during the year. And Justin Murray pointed out that he’s noticed an increase in the number of companies coming to him for quote. But, this is largely because companies, especially retailers, are having to seek out better prices and want to do comparative costings. “Obviously that kind of work can reduce your margins, but it may get you new clients for the longer haul,” he said.

The comment opened up many a wound on the topic of tight margins and price cutting. “Our sales have dropped in the last year but our margins have improved,” said Darren Marsh. “I’m only interested in work bringing in good margin. I’ve got rid of the rest.” Richard Clark agreed: “I take pride in the fact that we’re probably the most expensive [vehicle wrapping company]. I’d rather profit over turnover any day of the week.”

“As an industry we’re renowned for cutting prices to get volume,” added Graham Clark. “We must stop selling print as a commodity and treat it as a service.” On the whole the panel agreed, with various members quoting ludicrously low figures that they’ve heard of across the sector.

“It’s about creating an interdependence between you and your customers,” added Walker. “If you pull your finger out to help them they won’t go to someone who’s charging £2 a square metre less.”

Finding finance naturally came to the fore in this part of the debate. Most have found it increasingly difficult to raise finance through the bank, which they joked would perhaps prevent more start-ups adding to the competition! “We have a fixed rate three year credit deal with the bank and I make sure we trade within that limit. It makes you more disciplined, especially in getting paid up front,” said Richard Clark.

That took the panel onto the issue of increasing bad debt, with a 90 day cut-off period becoming the norm. Putting customers on stop credit has also proved problematic, with Murray saying he’s had so many companies on stop that he’s been force to look for new clients. Credit ratings were slammed for being out of date and therefore pretty useless, and late payment charges, while added by some, were found difficult to enforce in reality.

Mark Simpson said his group is not suffering from bad debt because it insures against all such losses. Some said they do likewise, but others, such as Murray and Marsh, find the insurance costs more than the bad debt!

Applications
The need to diversify was a key finding in the Widthwise Report but there were mixed feelings among the panel as to what that would actually mean for them.

“Going into new markets is risky, especially where it means investing in new equipment,” said Simpson. “We try to introduce new products within the markets we know. Retailers are being bought up and we’re becoming very involved in helping with rebrands – we have a brand development company and the production group works closely with them.”

“We’ve actually taken on sales people specifically to look into new areas for us, for instance we’re talking to morgues,” said Graham Clark. Murray said Pyramid Visuals has also taken on extra sales staff to look into markets new to the company, mainly in POS. “About five percent of our clients have gone into administration this year so we’re having to look further afield,” he pointed out. “We do a lot of vehicle graphics, which has been healthy over the last six months but I think that is going to start falling away.” Richard Clark agreed: “Potentially, vehicle graphics is a shrinking market because vehicles are being sold in lower volumes.”

Walker said he can see one new market sector emerging, though he was unprepared, understandably, to enlighten the rest of the panel as to what that might be.

Technology:
Service was the hot potato when it came to kit and suppliers, with many of the panel extremely dismayed at the treatment they receive.

“We spend £100,000 a year on service contracts with a certain company, and yet we have had to wait weeks for someone to sort out a problem machine,” said one panellist. “We sometimes end up having our own engineer on the phone – a bill I’m paying for – to talk to the manufacturer so they can talk him through the service required to a machine.”

Hood said: “We’ve got a supplier who said it would charge us £5,000 for a maintenance manual for one of our machines if we were fed up with their service and wanted to handle it ourselves.”

Marsh got so fed up with waiting for a supplier to come and fix one of his printers that he told his bank that he was not going to pay the £7,000+ he had outstanding on the machine and that the bank could have it because it was not fit for purpose. “As far as the supplier was concerned I was just some piddly little outfit that they didn’t want to listen to – I thought the bank may have more clout. Some manufacturers just care that if you have a machine down you’re stuffed.”

“Lack of stock in the UK is another problem,” added Walker, to which there was much agreement.

It wasn’t all bad: Richard Clark said service isn’t really an issue as far as he’s concerned as his machines run fine and he’s only had to call out an engineer once in four years.

Outside of service issues, the technology part of the programme dwelt on kit living up to expectation, an issue almost everyone found was a problem. Hood summed up the mood: “Part of the problem is that manufacturers create disillusionment. They say a printer can do this and that but practical terms it just can’t. We need a more realistic and practical approach. We are the suppliers’ customers, but how well we mesh together? Well, we don’t.”

“The thing that annoys me is this talk of a machine running at X speed in quality mode, and X speed in production mode – is that just more crap than quality mode?” asked Simpson.

“We recently bought a machine and found it ran 30% slower than the quoted speed,” added Murray. “Buying on quoted speed is stupid – you need to do your homework.”

Difficulties in colour matching and profiling came under the microscope too, the consensus being that there is never going to be an easy solution. “I still see this as a nightmare area,” continued Hood, a point of view echoed by most of the panellists. “We have an issue with profiling so the kit supplier blames the materials manufacturer and vice-versa. We go around in circles.”

“Even the experts can’t get it right,” said Richard Clark. “I get all these specialists to come in and they know less than me – so we have no option but to try and deal with it ourselves. The problem is you have to profile each material you’re going to use with every machine you’re going to use it on. It’s unrealistic for the suppliers to do that.” Marsh admits that when he buys a new machine he throws the manufacturer’s profiles away and sets up his own.

“You’re never going to get an industry standard in profiling/colour management. There’s no standardisation across software, so if customers are using different software and profiles you’re still going to have problems,” added Simpson.

Environment:
This was a topic of real contention, with stridently different views. “There’s a real commercial benefit to having various accreditations – not just in using them as a sales tool but because they make you get your house in order,” said Simpson. Graham Clark echoed the feeling, adding: “The environment is a great sales tool. We find very few clients who won’t sit down and talk about what you can do in these terms, because they need help too.”

Though this was a widely accepted view, there were those who feel the environment is a bit of a red herring. “We do see ‘green’ as a sales tool, and if you’re involved in anything to with the likes of print for the Olympics in 2012 then you have to be pretty on hot on being able to show environmental responsibility, but I did a customer analysis and found 70% don’t care about the environment. We’re having a major drive to get our collect and recycle print initiative moving so we’ll see,” said Walker. This prompted Murray to add: “We offer a recycling facility and no-one has taken us up on it: customers just won’t pay to get their waste back to us.” Hood further added: “I’ve been surprised by the number of customers saying they’re really not interested in the ‘green’ argument.”

“There’s so much hypocrisy,” stressed Marsh. “On EU tenders there’s a big section on the environment but when we went to talk to about how we could use a substrate that wasn’t vinyl we were told they were duty bound to take the lowest quote, so out suggestion was out of the window. Yet if I put the wrong bit of rubbish in the wrong bin outside my house the same council would fine me.”

There was an overall acceptance that the use of PVC in the sector needs to be addressed and alternatives found as customers shy away from its use. And the issue of landfill continues to create problems, with the likes of Richard Clark saying he can find no good way of getting rid of waste vinyl and release liners. Graham Clark offered up that he has found companies that will incinerate such waste, which then produces power so proves a ‘greener’ alternative to landfill.

“The problem is that it’s often about perception rather that realities,” said Murray.

Training:
Many of those around the table initially focussed on production skills training, with difficulties in pre-press becoming apparent, especially in terms of the need to educate designers on how to provide print-ready files. As to whether that is the printers’ job was an arguable point.

“I think we are talking too much about technical training and not enough about training in general,” came the call from Simpson. “I see the real training gaps as being in general business areas, such as management leadership, marketing, better negotiation skills. We find that when we try to find good managers/sales within the industry there just isn’t enough talent out there. We went on a course last year to improve our recruitment process we that we can find better talented young people – this industry can be too myopic.”

Future gazing
Here’s a précis off the predictions the panelists offered for the next three years:

Darren Marsh

1. Total market spend in wide-format will grow
2. Our POS work will develop
3. Green issues will become more important
4. Latex inks will make inroads

Stephen Hood

1. Irrational budget cutting due to general economic fears

Justin Murray

1. POS will grow
2. Dye-sub will prove the new technology
3. Vehicle branding and building wrapping will be static

Graham Clark

1. Olympic effect will boost wide-format

John Walker

1. More investment in UV and dye sub
2. Olympics will help wide-format
3. Swinging cuts to media budgets in 2009

Mark Simpson

1. More consolidation due to overcapcity

Richard Clark

1. Vehicle wrapping will grow longer term but 2009 difficult
2. Anticipates a UV vinyl for vehicle wrapping

The latest enterprise from the decade-old Pyramid group is Pyramid Digital. Launched in November of last year, the company moved into new premises in Byfleet with its two UK installation firsts – the Scitex XLjet 3m grand-format inkjet printer and the superior finishing capabilities of the Miller Weldmaster 112 Sign & Billboard finishing system.

For most companies getting to grips with the machines would have been the undeniable first priority. For Pyramid, explains director Justin Murray, the first problem for the new enterprise was the building. Untouched for forty years, the rebuilding and restoration work was far greater than anyone had anticipated.

Indeed on the company’s press open day last year, there were still some hidden no go areas and the definite whiff of fresh paint!

The Pyramid group was established by Murray ten years ago, eventually establishing itself in vehicle and fleet graphics. The move into wide-format digital was a natural evolution for the company. “We felt that digital was and is still an expanding market, and therefore could accommodate yet another player.” says Murray.

“David Watson from Scitex Vision is a great salesman and a really good guy,” says Murray, “and after comparing print quality at the end of the day he convinced us to go with the XLjet. Being the first in the UK was, we believe an advantage, also the fact that it prints virtually on any media and the price was competitive.”

In addition, Pyramid was turned onto Scitex because, says Murray, of its attitude to environmental issues for the future, for example its work with water-based inks. .

Pyramid has a staff of 13 and mostly everyone can interchange jobs, if the need arises. The company works for trade clients outputting in the main onto PVC and between 20-25 percent of work on self-adhesive and 15 percent on fabrics. Pyramid is working very closely with Spandex and has also formed a close association with Avery.

Bread and butter work includes, as you would expect, banners, vehicle wraps, curtains and building wraps. Going big on digital represented not one, but two learning curves that had to be dealt with simultaneously. Not only did Pyramid have to get to grips with the XLjet, but it had to chart a course in an area of the industry it wasn’t very familiar with – which as Murray says, turned out to be harder than anticipated.

What Murray also learned in the beginning that wastage of materials wasn’t in the 5-7 percent zone but in the region of 25-30 percent. In addition, he is keen to point out that more education is required in the migration of solvents. “Ideally,” he says, “you need a good 24 hour drying time when printing on self adhesive vinyl with solvents and to help speed this process up we have fabricated the UK’s first solvent migration cabinet to accelerate the migration.”

To compliment its grand-format print output, Pyramid went straight in for the kill purchasing an open-frame Miller Weldmaster 112 finishing system, enabling it to offer specialist finishing to other grand-format providers. Miller Weldmaster, recognised as the leader in the development in hot air sealing technology, uses a unique combination of heat pressure and speed along with exclusive vacuum holding technology to create durable and inconspicuous seals and seams very quickly.