The ultimate guide to van wrapping, signage and signwriting

By Chris Morell on May 9, 2024 3:42:15 PM

7 min read
Van wrapping, van signage, and van signwriting

Getting your van wrapped for the first time? It’s easy to feel overwhelmed, and that’s why we’ve created this ultimate guide. You’ll learn the difference between van wrapping and van signwriting, and get an overview of the different van signage options.

You’ll also find educational tips so that you’re better informed, and in turn more confident, when it comes to van graphics – whether you’re after a full design or basic lettering.

What is van wrapping, signage, and signwriting?

Van wrapping is when a business covers their van in sheets of vinyl. It can either be a partial wrap or a full wrap, but it’s always designed to spread awareness and build brand recognition.

Van signwriting refers to simple graphics like a line of text, contact details and a logo. It’s an older term from decades ago, when companies would paint their vans instead of wrapping them in vinyl. Naturally, the results were limited, and the paint was expensive to change.

Van signage is a modern term for van signwriting, but much like ‘van graphics’, it’s often used as a generic term that covers lettering, plus full and partial wraps.

Van Wrapping - We Love Plants

Why is wrapping a van a good idea?

A clear and impactful van wrapping design tells people who you are and what you stand for. It’s immediately noticeable while you’re out driving or parked on the road, and it’s a great way to build both trust and brand recognition. Think about it; would you be happier if someone arrived at your property in a plain white van, or in a fully branded vehicle that looks professional?

Van signage can be seen over 18 million times a year when driven through built-up areas, so it can also help increase your enquiries and grow your business over time.

Compared with other popular marketing methods like pay-per-click ads, van graphics don’t have a rolling cost. You just pay for installation and the usual van maintenance. We have more info in our guide to vehicle wrap advertising vs traditional marketing.


What type of van signage should you choose?

It depends on what you want to accomplish. Van signwriting can be installed for as little as £560, but the design will be limited. If you’d like your van to show off your brand’s colours, with a logo and imagery, then you can expect to pay between £1,900 and £3,200 for full van wrapping, depending on size. Half or partial wraps can cost about half the amount, so they’re good if you’re just starting out or on a tight budget.

If you don’t feel the need for a wrap, then van signwriting is even more affordable. See how the three options compare in our guide to vehicle wrapping costs.

You can choose the best option by deciding:

  • How much you’re willing to invest in your van wrap or signage
  • Whether you want maximum impact or something more subtle
  • The type of van graphics most likely to attract your desired customers
  • How much creative freedom you want with your design
  • If you want to fully cover and protect your van’s paintwork

We recommend you then have your van signwriting or wrap professionally installed, but some people have the confidence and experience to do it themselves. If you’re sure you can get the results you want, see the graphics, wraps and decals in our online store.

Van Wrapping - ServEquip

What you need to know about van wrapping and signwriting

Follow the tips below to start your van signage or wrapping project the right way.

1. You get what you pay for

Wrapping a van takes skill and materials. If something sounds extremely cheap, then the company is using low-grade vinyl or spending less time on your van – and this can compromise its quality. If you want the results to last between 5 and 7 years, pick a vinyl from the likes of 3M, Arlon, or Avery Dennison.

If you’re having an entire fleet wrapped, then Arlon is a fantastic choice. They offer strong support, respond quickly to installers, and their products come with reliable warranties.

2. You’ll need a designer

Vehicle wrapping designs are applied to a vehicle template, which is a 2D drawing of your van. It’s edited in Adobe Illustrator and, because it’s used by your wrap company, the designs must be accurate. It also must be the exact right template for your van’s make and model.

You can either find a graphic designer yourself or allow our in-house designers to make the template up for you. We’ll do this for free as part of the installation, whether you want simple van signage or full van wrapping.

van wrapping - A vehicle template

3. Planning ahead will make life easier

If your van’s being fully wrapped, it’ll have to be held overnight for the vinyl to adhere. That means you’ll have to think about logistics and choose a time when your van can be taken out of service. Some companies make courtesy vehicles available, so it’s worth asking if you need one.

If you’re branding a fleet, then a company like Raccoon can apply the graphics before your vans reach the dealership. See our tips on branding a commercial fleet for more advice.

4. Your van must be cleaned beforehand

No one can just apply van signwriting or wrapping to a dirty vehicle. Although your installer should give your vehicle a once-over, you still must clean it 24 hours earlier. A clean, unwaxed surface will allow the van signage to adhere to the bodywork.

You should also have any dents, scratches and rusted patches fixed first, as a wrap will only cover them up. In extreme cases, they might even cause your van wrapping design to look off.

Van Wrapping - Washing the van

5. Not all wrap companies are made equal

Want someone who can manage your van signage project from start to finish? You might need to shop around. Some wrap companies install the signage in-house, while others outsource this part of the job. Likewise, not everyone has in-house graphic designers.

A team that does all of this under one roof will make life easier. You should also look for a company that can show you a render of your van using modern 3D software.

Need van wrapping design ideas?

Take a look at some of our previous van wraps for inspiration.

Ford & the Lighthouse Charity

Van wrapping doesn’t come more colourful than this. Designed especially for a mental health awareness campaign, this van was driven around construction sites to promote health and wellbeing. The bright colours and simple text make it eye-catching without being overly busy.

Van Signage - Ford Van Wrapping - Ford

We Love Plants Garden Design

Vehicle wrapping design that looks like a garden on wheels! With so much going on, Nic Howard knew to keep the messaging simple with white text, including a phone number and web address. The back of the vehicle is busy, and this contrasts nicely with the simple front design.

Van Signage - We Love Plants Van Signwriting - We Love Plants

Spiral Cellars

This van for Spiral Cellars London is designed to be simple yet elegant, which is representative of the brand itself. There’s a logo upfront on the bonnet of the ban and a web address on the side. The images stand out thanks to the dark green colour.

Van Wrapping - Spiral Cellars Van Signwriting - Spiral Cellars

Get an instant quote for your van graphics

Whether you want van wrapping, partial signage, or basic signwriting, you can get an accurate quote to help you budget. Just fill out your van’s make and model to get an instant quote on screen. You can then send this to your inbox or arrange a free design consultation. And with a vehicle template also available, that’s a whole lot of resources available for free!

Click below to see how much we'll charge for your project. If you need multiple vans wrapped, this calculator also includes per-vehicle discounts! So, what are you waiting for?

Get a FREE Instant Quote

Chris Morell

Written by Chris Morell

Content Writer