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Van signwriting - is it worth it?

If you’re a sole trader or running a small business, you might be considering getting a big juicy advert slapped on the side or back of your van.

If you’re a van owner and you’re looking to promote your company, then we’ve got four words for you: two birds, one stone. Oh, and one more: signage.

Getting your van signwritten can be an inexpensive way of letting people know that you’re open for business.

Van signage is increasingly popular among small- to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

A white van with a review score as it's signwriting

Read on to find out what kind of signs are available and van signage costs.

We’ll also look at whether having van signage could save you money on van insurance, and whether it’s a good idea to get your van signwritten in the first place.


What kind of signwriting can I get for my van?

It’s no longer the case that you’d need to get your van sprayed - you have options that are easily removable if you ever have to sell it on.

The following van signage prices are ballpark, as the amount of work required will vary.

Cut vinyl van graphics

Getting stencilling done is pretty cheap, and the adhesive vinyl will preserve the paintwork beneath.

Something basic with the minimum necessary information should cost £60-70 plus VAT.

For something more elaborate, a decent amount of coverage on the sides and back of the van could set you back £300-350 plus VAT.

Vinyl wrap

Vinyl wrap does what it says on the tin - your ad is printed onto vinyl and wrapped around the vehicle.

These can just be partial, or a complete wrap if you really want to make an impact.

This is a little more expensive. For a full wrap, you can expect a large-sized van to cost around £3,000.

You may not need total coverage, so it’s worth exploring options in-between.

Magnetic van signs

These are the easiest to slap on and remove. This is useful if you don’t own your van, or you’re subcontracted to different companies. It’s also good because you don’t have to drive around with a huge advert on your van all the time.

They’re also pretty cheap with basic prices starting from between £20 and £30 a sign. Be sure to put them on flat panels, and ask for a vehicle-grade magnet that can cope with motorway speeds.

Tracy Clark, managing director of Signarama Milton Keynes, says:

“When thinking about what signage you want for your van, I’d suggest one of two approaches.

"Either work out roughly how you want your van to look first, have an idea of the coverage, and then ask a signwriter to price it up for you.

“Alternatively, have a budget in mind, and ask what a signwriter can do for that price.

“Obviously the cost will vary depending on the amount of detail and the size of the van, but your signwriter should be accommodating to your needs.”


Pros and cons of getting your van signwritten

Cheap advertising is the big one here. Driving around in a big advert is cost-effective marketing. Tracy Clarks says:

“If you budget £350 for an advert that you’re driving around for a year, then it works out as less than a pound per day.”

Plus it should be well targeted, given that it’s mostly going to be people in your local area who see it.

According to research by 3M, as many as 3,000 people might see your advert in a single hour in high-traffic areas such as cities. And it’s still working for you when it’s parked up. Bonus!

One of the main downsides is the perception that having a sign could make your van a target for thieves, impacting your van security. We’ll come back to this in a moment.

Having signwriting on a  van isn’t ideal if you like to draw a strong line between your professional time and your downtime.

Getting an easily removable van signage is probably better for those who want to occasionally switch off, or if other people such as your children drive the van too.


Top tips for van signwriting 

It might sound obvious, but make it absolutely clear what your business  does.

Potential customers will be looking for a means to contact you, so make your website and phone number stand out.

Some people may only have a few seconds to process your ad, so make sure it’s clear, uncluttered and concise .

The back of the van is generally considered to be the best place for advertising, as those behind you will have longer to digest what it says.

It’s very easy to look right through one’s own mistakes, so get a second set of eyes to proofread your sign before it goes to print.

If your van has a sliding side panel, check that your sign won’t accidentally say something inappropriate when the door is slid open.


Will signwriting save me money on my van insurance?

If you want to save money on your van insurance, you might expect that having a big sign on your van would be a bit of a winner.

After all, what’s a better deterrent to would-be thieves than a massive sign advertising whose van it actually is?

Perhaps it’s not quite this simple.

Although the van itself may be less of a target, advertising the nature of your business is sometimes perceived as a menu for what might be inside the vehicle.

In a 2015 survey from ECIS, it was found that 40% of business owners chose to keep their vans free of branding, with 25% of those citing fear of equipment theft - which could see a tool insurance claim - as the reason for doing so.

So what’s the answer? Signwriting is indeed a rating factor - that’s to say, you’ll be asked about it while making an application for insurance.

As such, there’s a likelihood it’ll have a bearing on the cost.

Dan McCulloch, van insurance expert at Confused.com says:

“Typically having signwriting on a van should ensure that you get a discount with some insurers. This is because businesses are likely to view signwriting on their van as more professional and therefore reliable.”

There you have it. Not only will having your van signwritten potentially give your business a boost, but it could also score you a discount on your van insurance policy - surely a good sign.

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Can you have van signwriting if your van is leased?

If you lease your van rather than own it you might be concerned about putting signwriting on your van.

But so long as you remove it professionally, leaving no permanent marks on the van when you return it, there shouldn’t be a problem. If you’ve any doubts, check in with the leasing company before you commit.


How do I put signwriting on my van?

It’s possible to do DIY signwriting. Magnetic van signs should be straightforward to put on. You can even put vinyl graphics or stencils on yourself as well. There are plenty of tutorials on YouTube that can guide you through the process step-by-step.

But if you don’t think that’s within your skill set it might be worth getting a professional to do it. This could be especially important if you’re wanting to promote your business and create the best possible impression.


How do I take signwriting off my van?

Again there are tutorials on YouTube that can help you get the signwriting off your van without damaging your paintwork. As a starting point you’ll need a source of heat - a heat gun or a hairdryer for example -  to melt the glue. If you don’t have access to either of those, you could try hot water, although it might be a harder job. 

It’s then a case of carefully peeling off the lettering, making sure you aren’t so speedy that it leaves marks on the van.

If you’re worried about damaging the paintwork or you’re returning a leased van, it could be worth getting your van signage professionally removed.

Professional removal costs are likely to vary depending on your location, the size of your van and the size of the sign. It’s worth getting quotes from a few different companies to make sure you’re not paying over the odds.