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Wraps Figure in Food Truck Recipes for Success: Brands Imaging

For entrepreneurs with a food truck, a wrap is their identity.

Big Picture

Most businesses employ a vehicle wrap as a rolling billboard to promote their identity. For entrepreneurs with a food truck, the wrap is their identity.

“A food truck wrap really defines the business,” says Brett Brands, owner of Brands Imaging (www.brandsimaging.com) in Philadelphia. He’s done more than 30 to date and expects to wrap another dozen this year.

Transforming a boxy old truck into a rolling restaurant is an opportunity for staff artists to demonstrate their creativity. “People come to us with a name and an idea of what they want to do but not much more,” he explains. “We create their brand when we design and install that wrap.”

These tend to be one-of-a-kind projects in both scope and budget. An aspiring chef may have spent anywhere from $20,000 to $120,000 for the vehicle, and their wrap allowance can be similarly humble or ambitious.

“These trucks are almost always being repurposed from something originally intended for another type of business,” Brands says. “We have templates for some trucks, but you can’t always rely on them.” Common obstacles include window and serving bar placement, location of rivets securing body panels, and rails running the length of the truck.

“There are a lot of flat areas but a lot of seams, too. The real challenge is making the wrap as fine and clean a fit as we can,” he says.

Each project begins with a site visit to document the truck and panels. Brands’ staff uses an iPad to take photographs and capture dimensions. “With a food truck, you really have to dice up the project to create a harmonious balance between the serving side, with its window, and the other side of the truck,” he says.

Client budget dictates the number of preliminary designs and allowable revisions. The wrap is printed on either a Mimaki JV33 printer or HP 3000 latex printer. Brands’ preferred media is 3M’s IJ180C wrap vinyl, with a protective layer of overlaminate.

“We print in horizontal strips at 54 inches wide to make sure there’s only one seam on each side,” he says. “Most of the challenge in the installation is trying to hide that horizontal seam in the box, or any vertical seams near the door.”

Typical wraps take about two days. “In the beginning it was harder and took a lot longer,” Brands admits. “After you’ve done so many of these, it gets a lot easier.”

It was a big year for vehicle wraps; read our full coverage here or look through the photo gallery.

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