Advances in wide-format and grand-format printing, a growing number of new substrates for indoor and outdoor signage, and the popularity of vehicle wraps and wall coverings mean that designers can now think big -so big that the sky is the only limit.
Many designers are tasked with designing product or service campaigns for print, packaging, or textiles. A secondary task may be designing signage for an event or location. Nowadays there is a dizzying array of signage and visual branding opportunities at unique event venues: from wall coverings in retail and office spaces to branded vehicles that deliver products, and specialty signage at outdoor venues. Designers have the opportunity to complete brand awareness in any physical location to complement traditional print and packaging campaigns.
Recently I interviewed Al Kennickell of the Kennickell Group in Savannah, Georgia. He is the proud 4th-generation CEO of a family-run, 127-year-old print service provider. Al has expanded the wide-format capabilities of his company to provide customized vehicle wraps, wall coverings, signage, and print for textiles. His company also produces a wide variety of traditional print such as books, brochures, and magazines. Al has expanded the wide-format capabilities of his company to provide customized vehicle wraps, wall coverings, signage, and print for textiles. His company also produces a wide variety of traditional print such as books, brochures, and magazines.
I began the interview by asking how 2D designs for signage work in the 3D world for wrapping vehicles, stadiums, and other large signage opportunities. According to Al, working with larger than life outdoor signage and wraps on 3D objects can take a lot of coordination between the brand and print manufacturer to get it right. There are several different substrates that can be used, and print service providers (PSPs) offer consultative services to help determine what is right for your project. For example, Kennickell Group has made significant investments in this area with regards to equipment, software, and people who can do print manufacturing and installation. Specifically, he offers consulting for designers, to show them samples of substrates and different physical media that can be printed for use on all types of indoor and outdoor signage as well as on some textiles.
The Kennickell Group team can share tips they have learned along the way with designers. Depending on the project, the manufacturer and brand may need to test image resolutions and substrates. Kennickell took this approach on a project that involved wrapping the Harbour Town Lighthouse in Hilton Head for the 2018 RBC Heritage golf tournament. The idea was to wrap the iconic lighthouse seen on the 18th hole in the tournament’s Heritage plaid pattern to support the 50th anniversary of the event. The Kennickell team made an R&D investment in time and materials to ensure the project went smoothly the first time. The scale of the project meant that the image size needed to be just right for viewing the plaid logo at a great distance. They tested several image sizes and substrates for outdoor durability. Initially, the plan was to leave the plaid logo wrap up for 2 months. The brand recognition was so successful, the lighthouse stayed wrapped for more than 15 months!
Kennickell says that his company works on branded wraps on all types of surfaces like elevators, walls, retail counters, ceilings, escalators and windows. He says that designers need to understand how the potential design will look on the proposed walls and adjust artwork to accommodate the necessary functionality for light switches, electrical outlets, etc. This is especially true for indoor spaces. To help with this, Kennickell’s team uses several tools and apps for accurate measuring of indoor spaces to provide designers with critical spacing for design considerations.
According to Kennickell, there is more and more interest in wrapped vehicles as a way to build brand awareness and customer engagement. With the right custom wrap, it can be an effective branding opportunity for both business-to-business and business-to-consumer companies who have individual or fleets of vehicles. This can include food service, food manufacturing, regional baseball/sports teams, sheriff departments, delivery services, florists, hospitals, construction, electricians, or even schools. Kennickell says that brands looking to do vehicle wraps in multiple locations should look for a PSP who has a network of national or global installers. This allows for a consistent brand experience, no matter where a consumer sees the vehicle.
Kennickell sees a lot of opportunity for brands and designers to create new and dynamic customer experiences with today’s wide- and grand-format technology. He says that today’s art and graphic design programs are building new curriculums and challenging young designers to think big with wide-format and wraps. For example, his company partnered with Savannah College of Art and Design and worked with students to wrap the school’s vending machines. He says this helps students understand visual branding and print manufacturing, and experiment with creative applications of art on all types of surfaces.
After talking with Al Kennickell, it’s clear that the sky is the only limit when it comes to what wide- and grand-format can produce. Designers can now think beyond traditional print, packaging and displays, to create full customer experiences using visual signage and wraps in any physical space to complement a brand. As critical as the design piece is, Kennickell says selecting the right suppliers and partners to execute the vision is just as important. The right partner can assist you in testing and selecting effective materials and successfully install your project, bringing your vision to reality.