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Applying Your Promotional Bus Wrap What We Need and What it Takes

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Whether its a single decker bus or double decker bus, corporate class or standard class, almost every vehicle we have provided for a promotional event has had some form of vinyl branding applied, whether it be a full bus wrap or simple text and logo’s.

When it comes to exterior branding we are frequently asked the same questions, regarding a applying promotional bus wrap’s “How Much,” “How long will it take,” and “In what format do you need the artwork”

The first two questions are, in the main dictated by the supplied artwork, unless it’s a full bus wrap of the vehicle, in which case it’s a simple answer

The cost of the branding varies, considerably, dependent upon many factors, these include the complexity of the artwork, amount of coverage, the length of time the branding will be on the vehicle, which in turn dictates the amount and cost of the vinyl used, how long it will take to print, dry, prepare and apply

Promotional Bus Wrap Design

Double Decker Branding Template Blank
Double Decker Branding Template Blank

When designing the artwork for a vehicle, regardless of its size, you cannot treat it like a billboard, magazine or flyer advert, there are no straight edges 90 or 180deg angles, very few flat areas everything and I do mean everything, revolves around curves, bumps, grills and crevice’s.

When we get an order for a promotional vehicle one of the items we provide clients with is a template of the vehicle, the template is to scale! Usually  5% 1:20 or 1:50, this can be loaded in to Adobe Illustrator to provide the basis for your artwork. Being to scale means that actual sizes of doors, windows etc. can be calculated by measuring it on the template and multiplying it by the scale

The template will show the position of various things, e.g. Lights, grills, doors, awning, window and door rubbers, even rivet strips. Window and door rubbers, along with handles, filler caps, grills etc. are usually depicted in black as lines, circles or boxes of varying thickness, please be aware vinyl will not be applied to these surfaces and we will chop out the vinyl in these areas.

Rivet strips, usually depicted as twin horizontal or vertical lines on the body of the vehicle, these rivet strips are raised areas and can be awkward to affix vinyl and may distort any wording that you apply over them, especially if it’s just cut lettering and not a vinyl panel.

Coloured items, usually orange or red are lights, we will not apply vinyl to these or the number plates, front driver’s windows or the windows/door to the sides of the driver.

Grey items are usually the awning or big grills, it is possible to apply a single colour vinyl, but not text or images, over these, but we prefer to keep them clear.

Windows, other than driver’s windows, can have the bus wrap vinyl applied, either as cut lettering or vinyl panels, however this will block out most of the light from outside and will show people aboard the vehicle the grey or white backing of the vinyl (this can be overcome by branding over the inside of the windows if required)

Images and Logo’s; cause us the most issues, especially photographs taken specifically for the artwork, the logo’s, images, photo’s you use must be vector images or have a DPI of a minimum of 120 at FULL SIZE preferably the DPI should be higher. It is no good sending a 300mm x 200mm image with a DPI of 300, then asking us to print this image and apply it to a 3m x 2m area the result is a 30DPI image with each pixel almost the size of a penny, presenting a very blurred image to anyone closer than 30m to the vehicle.

Text; any text shown on the artwork must be outlined, the font you use may not be on our system which may result in the text being shown and printed in a default font. Also, please spell check any and all words on the artwork, we cannot take responsibility for any incorrect spelling or grammatical errors in the supplied files.

Bleed; It is important that all artwork has bleed and we recommend a minimum of 5mm of bleed on all edges at 5% size. This gives us 100mm of bleed when we scale up, we often need more bleed than you may think, so please be generous with bleed.

Bus wrap artwork should be supplied to us in CMYK format with all supported files, i.e. images, logo’s etc. we accept the artwork files in Adobe Illustrator Format. Please also supply a separate PDF proof of the artwork so that we can ensure the accuracy of the design and can be viewed on computers without Adobe Illustrator.

The Promotional Bus Wrap Process

Double Decker Branding Template
Double Decker Branding Template

Once we receive and check over the artwork we will review the design and decide what needs printing, what needs pre-coloured vinyl and what, if any, cut lettering is required, we also decide what type of vinyl is required and whether or not it is to be laminated.

Undertaking the above then provides us with a cost of materials i.e. inks, vinyl and laminate, we can also calculate the time it will take to prepare the vinyl once its printed this can involve the laminating process and/or cutting to shape, in addition we can also estimate the number of man hours involved in applying the bus wrap to the vehicle i.e. it can take 3 men 4+ x 8-hour days to apply a full wrap to a double decker bus.

When it comes to applying the branding to the vehicle we start the print process, this normally happens 2 or 3 weeks prior to the hire period start, depending upon the level of branding to be applied.

The printer, we use an inkjet printing system, similar to a normal inkjet printer you may have at home or in the office, except considerably larger, which accepts 50m rolls of 1.3m wide vinyl.

It can take several hours of printing and maybe 2 or 3 rolls of vinyl. Once these 50m rolls of vinyl are printed they are stored in a warm room to dry for up to 3 days, once dry the vinyl is then cut into strips and if required these strips are then laminated. Overall the printing, drying, cutting and laminating will take approximately a week to achieve for a full wrap, 3 – 4 days for anything less.

Bus Branding Preparation

Roadshows What are they Double Decker Branded
Double Decker Branded

The most time-consuming part of wrapping a vehicle is the prep process.  This is where the installer has to go over every inch of the vehicles surface as well as under the weather trims, cracks, fenders to make sure they’re 100% clean & wax free.

The vehicle must be washed the day before and has to be dry.  A special solution is used to wipe the vehicle down completely to make sure any waxy residue has been removed.  Then again, using alcohol the vehicle has to be wiped down to make sure the solution that was used to remove the wax has been removed (otherwise it will affect the adhesive of the vinyl).

The smallest dirt left behind could result in the vinyl’s adhesive to fail & lift.  A small lift will allow water to get under the wrap and eventually cause the entire wrap to fail.

Applying the Promotional Bus Wrap

Once the above it done and only then can the application of the vinyl be started, vinyl is applied in 1.3m wide strips, usually as long as the height of the vehicle i.e. double decker bus would have a drop of around 4.5m, this 4.5m drop of vinyl has to be adhered inch by inch to the side of the vehicle, which can often involve rubbing down, heating and stretching the vinyl over protuberances such as rivet strips or window frames and if it’s the not the first piece to be applied it also has to mate up to the previous strip, aligning any pattern, image or wording.

Although the actual installation of the wrap described above is very difficult, believe it or not, the final trimming of the wrap is even more challenging.  You can have the perfectly installed wrap but if the excess material is not trimmed and tucked properly the final outcome will look terrible.

Trimming the wrap requires a steady hand, a lot of patience and technique. This is what sets an excellent installation apart from a good installation. Making the wrap to look like a paint job is what’s all about.

Overall a full wrap professionally applied to one of our promotional vehicles is going to take 3 – 5 days depending upon the size of the vehicle and the number of installers we use for the job or 1.2hrs per sqm

Learn More

To learn more about promotional vehicle wraps contact the team at Roadshow Promotions on 01253 923800 or via our Contact Form.


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