Pyramid Visuals

Posts tagged ‘vehicle graphics’

Justin Murray

Pyramid Visuals Ltd

Marketing budgets have been slashed in recent years, but vehicle wrapping practically sells itself to larger companies that are interested in reaching potentially hundreds of thousands of viewers over the short-term. Striking a deal with a big brand name can drive significant revenues for your shop.

But let’s face it. Most of your prospects are probably neighborhood businesses. So, how do you seal the deal with those business owners who are still trying to decide whether or not an investment in vehicle wrapping will pay off for them? After all, we’re not talking about a few dollars for vehicle graphics here. Total vehicle wraps can be a major capital expenditure for smaller companies, like hair salons, restaurants and the like.

Lucky for you, leading auto wrapping shops, industry trade associations and research firms have been collecting case studies and viewer data that make your job as salesman much easier.

Benefits of Outdoor Media

You can start the sales process by explaining to your customer the general benefits of outdoor media. Outdoor media play a vital role in the media mix, according to a study by Arbitron, Inc., an international media and marketing research firm serving outdoor media, radio broadcasters, cable companies, advertisers and advertising agencies in the United States and Europe, because it reaches consumers missed by other media and enhances exposure of other media. Outdoor media reach consumers not exposed or only lightly exposed to newspaper and local television, for example, and are complimentary to radio campaigns.

Outdoor media also reaches the entire socioeconomic spectrum of Americans, according to the study. People with heavy vehicle mileage and long commutes are more difficult to reach with both the newspaper — almost one out of three Americans do not read a daily newspaper anyway — and local TV news broadcasts. On the contrary, the study showed that virtually every American (96 percent) travels in a vehicle each week as either a driver or a passenger.

So by nature, commuters are an exceptional advertising target in terms of both income and consumption habits. Thirty-five percent of heavy commuters come from households earning $75,000+, compared to only 23 percent for the U.S. average income profile. This group is likely to be aged between 25 and 54.

Moreover, the Arbitron study concludes consumers that are reached repeatedly with a message show higher advertiser awareness, brand recall and purchase behavior. Vehicle wrapping, then, offers advertisers an excellent opportunity to reach commuters on the highways and city streets.

“Wrapped vehicles not only place messages in front of target consumers, they also provide the opportunity for direct customer contact through coupon distribution, sampling and other promotional tactics,” notes Stephen Freitas, spokesperson for the Outdoor Advertising Association of America (OAAA).

Vehicles by the Numbers

Beyond communicating the traditional benefits of outdoor advertising, you can also cite numbers that will pique the interest of even your most frugal prospects.

“The cost of advertising over the life of the vehicle is a miniscule amount,” says Peter Bearth, director of Spectrum Media Group in Dallas, a division of J Perez Associates.

How does he know? New non-public transportation campaigns are being measured and the results will help you gauge the number of vehicles your client needs to wrap or the number of hours the vehicle must be driven in order to reach the desired audience levels in their markets. According to the Transportation Advertising Council, a division of the OAAA, vehicle advertising generates between 30,000-70,000 daily vehicular impressions.

“The vehicles are often equipped with Global Positioning Satellite tracking systems, which can provide detailed vehicle tracking information and, in some cases, audited reports necessary for monitoring the effectiveness of an advertising campaign,” says Freitas.

Driving Revenues, a vehicle-advertising firm in Washington, broke those numbers down even further and compared vehicle wrapping head-on against other forms of advertising. Here is what they found a $20,000 investment buys:

· Vehicle signage garners about 8.4 million impressions in a 12-month period.

· Radio attracts 900,000 listeners in six weeks with 10 to 12 30-second spots.

· Value Pak offers a reach of 600,000 with 100,000 addresses per drop and your client is just one of many advertisers included in the packet.

· Direct mail reaches 20,000 names with one post card mailer.

· Seven city buses get 600,000 impressions in two months.

· Billboards get 700,000 impressions in one month.

Case Studies Prove the Point

Autowraps, Inc., a mobile sampling company in New York City, charges between $2,000 and $4,000 for a vehicle wrap that lasts for three years. In this scenario, the return on the investment could be even greater than the figures listed above. Autowraps owner Daniel Shifrin insists that there is no other form of advertising for which small businesses can opt that comes even close to the cost per impression of vehicle wrapping.

“An advertisement in the yellow pages costs up to $15,000 for one year for a display ad,” says Shifrin. “And your competitors are right there with you and you have to wait for someone to decide to pick up the yellow pages.”

Let’s look at some real-life examples that prove the point.

Autowraps initially wrapped 10 VW Bugs for Dreyer’s Ice Cream. The cars featured Dreyer’s Dreamery logo, an American flag and some landscaping. VW owners were selected from Autowraps’ database based on their demographic driving patterns and personal demographics. Owner/drivers were paid a monthly fee for two months to drive their wrapped vehicles around pre-determined routes. The selected routes were based on traffic and population flows during peak hours and weekend exposure in specific locations. Each vehicle accumulated at least 500,000 impressions per month.

“From the day we wrapped our first Bug we have been inundated by people who have seen the Bugs and want to wrap their cars,” says David Ritterbush, vice president of marketing for Dreyers Ice Cream.

By the second week of the launch, Dryers had received such an overwhelming response that they added another 11 vehicles to the campaign. The “Sweet Fleet” was also driven through grocery store and convenience store parking lots where the drivers would get out of their vehicles and hand out coupons. Other successful events included drivers going to baseball games and other venues where the Sweet Fleet cars would be seen by thousands of people at one time.

JetBlue Airways contracted Autowraps to wrap nine VW Bugs for a four-week program in which drivers drove the cars eight hour a day, six days a week to generate awareness for the airline’s new route from Long Beach to JFK. The cars featured the JetBlue logo and colors with information about the new route and were driven through targeted high traffic areas. The vehicles were driven in groups of two or three to attract even more attention. The result was more than 6.75 million impressions in the month-long period.

While these are examples of large companies, Shifrin says vehicle wrapping is just as effective for smaller businesses that wrap one vehicle and drive it along normal routes as they do every day business. “We are wrapping cars for real estate agents and bars and restaurants and sun tanning places every kind of business you can imagine,” he says. “It’s cost-effective and it works well.”

Indeed, as Shifrin notes, wrapped vehicles are one of the only mediums that people make an effort to view. Could vehicle advertisers like Nike, Reebok, Proctor & Gamble, Lycos Sports, Kraft Foods and Coca-Cola be wrong?

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…

“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!

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.

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.

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.

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 term “eye catcher” enters a new dimension where advertisements adorn entire building facades. The question of how such large-format images are created is answered by English enterprise Pyramid Visuals Ltd. The Weybridge-based digital print specialist is primarily known for its high-quality vehicle graphics, created using vinyl print techniques. Fully aware of the fact that visual communication of brands and companies is becoming increasingly important, Pyramid visuals provide clients with new ways of addressing the public.

Together with two friends, Justin Murray began designing, producing and applying advertising, decorative and informative graphics for vehicles in 1993. This business was made viable thanks to vinyl printing techniques coming into their own, techniques which promised drastic quality improvements over conventional printing. “Having a background in the arts, I was able to dedicate my creativity to Pyramid visuals’ work from the very beginning,” reports managing director Justin Murray. “Based on our initial success, we gradually opened up new fields of business. Today, we mainly offer graphic designs for vehicle, the design and production of signs and large- format digital print.”

The experts for large-format designs, many of which cover entire building facades or attract attention at trade shows, have recently extended their portfolio, although vehicle graphics have remained the core competence of Pyramid Visuals. In the fields of business, the company cooperates closely with a number of advertising and marketing agencies whose ideas are then created by Pyramid Visuals.

Advertising that cannot be ignored is usually an unachievable ideal for many companies wishing to present products or services in the best possible way. Considerable wastage is often regarded as a necessary evil in advertising, Pyramid Visuals proves that it can be avoided. The company has gained an excellent reputation in large-format advertising, and real-world applications bear out this claim, in keeping with the motto “think big”.

The Large-format vinyl prints open up new avenues in marketing. They may be more expensive than conventional signs and banners, but effectiveness analyses conducted by the advertising industry have shown that such adverts are economically viable. The towering print, which can also be designed in such a way that they cover only certain parts of a building facade, will definitely leave a lasting impression on people. Depending on their size they can be seen from great distances. Both complex images and simple messages can be accommodated, which, due to their purist design and memorable lettering, can be grasped in a fraction of a second. Vinyl prints are not only used in advertising, but are also suited for veiling buildings during construction or refurbishment work.

Considering the downturn development of the effectiveness of classic visual advertising, Pyramid Visuals offers clients promising new marketing options, for instance as part of a company’s corporate design strategy or for classic advertising. The digital printing machines used by Pyramid Visuals will print on almost any material with a maximum width of five metres; the maximum resolution goes up to 1,440 dpi. The possible applications for these large-format prints include vehicles, truck canvases, exhibition signs, backgrounds and backdrops for films, theatre and television, building facade advertising, banners and signs. Pyramid Visuals’ service portfolio ranges from design conception and production all the way to the installation.

Without exception, Pyramid Visuals utilises state-of-the-art technology in its projects, which guarantees a maximum of quality and flexibility. Equally important as a success factor is the motivation of its employees, whose expertise and dedication ensure that many first-time customers become satisfied repeat customers. “Nowadays, we are active on a worldwide scale,” relates Justin Murray. “This is particularly true in the case of trade shows, one of the most important being Las Vegas, where our competence can be appreciated at numerous presentation booths.”

Pyramid Visuals has been enjoying healthy growth for a number of years. With twenty-four members of staff, the company generated around two million GBP in the past business year. Distributors support the company in most European markets. “One of the reasons for our excellent development has been the success of our international clients, some of whom have seen remarkable growth,” adds Justin Murray. “All production is carried out in Great Britain. For the installation work, We rely on competent service teams. We offer our clients a complete service portfolio that leaves nothing to be desired. It is always a pleasure for us to present our clients with innovative ideas, aimed at adding attractive perspectives to their corporate identity or product presentations.”

When it comes to Vehicle Graphics, Pyramid has the Edge.

In 1993, a group of young designers decided that they could make vehicle graphics even more effective by taking advantage of emerging vinyl printing technology. With the help of a business partner they set up a state-of-the-art sign company based around the newly launched Gerber Edge colour printing and contour cutting system. Just six years later, Pyramid Visuals is a prosperous company enjoying a nationwide reputation for its fleet vehicle identification and promotional branding work.

Pyramid Visuals has its headquarters in Woking, Surrey, however, examples of the company’s creativity can be seen all over the UK.

In addition to a broad base of clients in the South East, it provides a comprehensive sign design, production and fitting service for a number of nationwide organisations, including Securicor, Omega, Toyota (GB) Ltd and Clancy Dowcra Ltd.

Justin Murray, Sales Manager and one of the founders of Pyramid Visuals Ltd believes that the company’s success is born out of strong design and project management skills backed up by a versatile and reliable production system. Pyramid Visuals was one of the first companies in the country to take delivery of a Gerber Edge cutting system from Spandex PLC, Gerbers European distributor and its purchase enabled Pyramid Visuals to print vibrant spot and process colour designs direct on to the everyday self-adhesive vinyl used in the production of signs and vehicle graphics. The printed images require no lamination and offer an outdoor life of up to five years. A Gerbers slave plotter provided highly accurate contour cutting for the output.

The advent of this new thermal transfer printing technology opened the door to all kinds of marketing and advertising opportunities for Pyramid Visuals. In addition to producing fleet vehicle liveries for corporate customers, the company also works closely with a number of marketing, advertising and promotion companies to create exciting promotional branding on vehicles and it has produced some absolutely stunning full-colour work with the Gerber Edge. The superb graphics produced for the Taylor Made promotional vehicle guaranteed that this golfing supplies business received plenty of attention during the recent PGA European Tour. Pyramid Visuals also used the Gerber Edge to ensure that the UK launch of the new Toyota HI-Ace power van packed a really big punch.

However, as Pyramid’s sales manager was quick to point out, promotional branding is just one facet of the company’s signmaking activities. Pyramid Visuals is equally adept at tackling conventional vehicle liveries, general work, even short run labels with its Gerber Edge system.

Although Pyramid Visuals offers a UK wide onsite vehicle fitting service (it has recently completed a 700 vehicle contract for Securicor Omega), some of its clients find the DIY approach to fitting vehicle graphics to be a more convenient solution in certain instances. Toyota (GB) Ltd provides its 230 or so UK distributors with “Toyota Parts Express” graphics kits, (which features spot colours, drop shadows and fades), which can be produced as and when they’re needed and customised to suit different vehicle colours. Using ordinary cut vinyl production methods, design elements like drop shadows would have to be produced, weeded, applied and removed separately.

According to Justin Murray, Sales Manager and one of the founders of Pyramid Visuals, producing the graphics kits with the Gerber Edge system saves time and money for both the company and its clients “printing the design elements and contour cutting the graphics in one piece saves time when it comes to weeding and makes it much easier for individuals with little or no vinyl experience to apply and subsequently remove the graphics.”

So what does the future hold for Pyramid Visuals? Well, the company’s commitment to high quality design, workmanship and customer services continues to attract new clients and to ensure that it retains its ability to react swiftly to the needs of its increasing number of customers, it has plans to expand its production facilities, possibly with the addition of a new Gerber Edge 2. Although the existing Gerber Edge is still going strong, investing in a Gerber Edge 2 would increase productivity significantly. According to Spandex, the Gerber Edge 2 prints vinyl graphics up to three times faster that the existing system and offers even higher print resolutions too. By investing in the latest technology and offering the highest levels of customers service, Pyramid Visuals sees no reason why it can’t maintain its position at the forefront of vehicle graphics and promotional branding in the UK.