Sign & Digital Graphics

WRAPS '19

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20 • WRAPS • 2 0 1 9 VEHICLE WRAP REGULATIONS SRF's research on Digital Signage and Traffic Safety: A Sta- tistical Analysis, conducted by Texas A&M University, looked at crash statistics in areas where a digital sign had been installed and found no increase in accidents after the sign had been in- stalled. Now this reputable research is being used to counter driver distraction arguments. The same approach goes for vehicle wraps and distracted driving. We witness wrapped vehicles every day in front of us on the highway, or parked in a lot as we drive by, and yet we don't make unsafe driving maneuvers while doing so. It has been proven that distractions inside the vehicle are far more distracting than what the driver sees outside the vehicle, and this axiom applies to vehicle wraps. Are vehicle wraps ugly? While art may be in the eye of the beholder, showcasing some of your best projects can certainly negate that argument. On the Facebook discussion, one wrap art- ist posted his work alongside a beat-up sedan and asked which was least ap- pealing. If the regulator's argument is for aesthetic reasons, this could make a compelling point. It may also help for local officials to consider that many law enforcement and public transit vehicles are wrapped for identification and ad- vertising purposes, yet they don't raise the same aesthetic and driver distrac- tion concerns. As for using wraps to get around sign codes, let's take a step back. As an indus- try, we benefit from reasonable—and legally enforceable—sign codes. No one is saying that we abandon all sign regulations. Just that we all need to play by the same rules. Vehicle wraps are a powerful form of advertising and par- ticularly cost-effective for small busi- nesses. Working to develop rules that balance community aesthetics with this important advertising tool benefits ev- eryone. 3. Tell the story. Those who work in the vehicle wrap in- dustry know the power of a quality wrap in creating a compel- ling marketing story. They know the value in raising brand awareness. And they know the stories their customers have told them about how the wrap built business. But those ben- efits may have not even occurred to a local official or planner. Help them understand the value, cost and return-on-invest- ment of this type of advertising. We have not always been great at telling these types of sto- ries. As with other types of signs, though, we have found this to be an effective argument. There is nothing quite as powerful as a local business owner standing up at a public meeting and touting the impact that signs have had on his or her business. ISA works with local chambers of commerce all over North America with the goal of educating businesses and local of- ficials about the value of signs, graphics and visual communi- cations. Chambers are a valuable tool to defend the rights of their members to brand their businesses, and with some key resources and passionate advocates at the ground level, they can support the rights of vehicle wraps too. SRF has several research projects that tout the benefits of signs to busi- nesses. Again, most focus broadly on the impact of signs overall, not spe- cifically wraps. But they could provide some information that is useful. Ex- plore these at the SRF website (www. signresearch.org). 4. Get involved—Now. If your com- munity is discussing regulating signs— even just the earliest hint of it—start gathering those happy business owner stories and pulling together allies who would be willing to go to bat for this is- sue. And contact ISA at signhelp@signs. org to let us know about what you're facing. We may be able to help. One strategy that will lead to failure every single time is to avoid the issue. Believe it is someone else's role. Hope it goes away. That will never work—and may lead to business-threatening codes that severely limit your abilities to pro- vide wraps that benefit customers. After recently walking the floor at ISA International Sign Expo 2019 and seeing latest innovations in our indus- try, one wonders how the government will find a way to regulate these kinds of visual communications. With the advent of lighted vehicle wraps and holograms, it's not a question of "if" but when. As an industry, let's stay ahead of the curve and stay proactive. We're not reinventing the wheel here. ISA has successfully used these tactics throughout the United States and Canada to help improve sign codes. We've seen it work with digital signs, and several other forms of signs, graphics and visual communi- cation. And I have no doubt that as we face continued regula- tion on vehicle wraps, we will see it work here, too. AND TWO TOOLS TO HELP… T he International Sign Association (ISA) works with local officials in communities across the country on sign code issues. Contact signhelp@signs. org when you hear of an issue where you conduct business. ISA provides its members with complimentary advice and resources to help community lead- ers develop reasonable sign codes. ISA has tools aimed specifically at educat- ing local officials. Have your local plan- ner visit www.signs.org/planners. The Sign Research Foundation (SRF) develops research for the industry. The publication Best Practices in Regulating Temporary Signage is a proven guide to help local officials develop reasonable and beneficial sign codes. It includes a section on vehicle wraps. Access it at www.signresearch.org/research.

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