These terms get used interchangeably when talking about graphics. There are more similarities than differences but knowing what the differences between a car wrap and decals are, will help you to better understand what you want. If you’re in the beginning stages of considering branding for your vehicle, then this should answer some of your questions!
Digitally Printed Car Wrap
A digitally printed car wrap is the way to go if you want full coverage with multiple design elements included within the printed wrap. A wrap is a graphic that is printed on one large piece of cast adhesive vinyl and is then “wrapped” on top of the exterior body of the vehicle. Full coverage means that the only parts of the car that are not wrapped are the parts that the vinyl will not properly adhere to.
Digitally Printed Decals
The term “graphics” can refer to a full wrap or decals. A wrap with all the graphical design elements was just defined in the prior paragraph. Digitally printed graphics that are decals are printed and laminated like a wrap but are then die-cut with a plotter. These decals allow for the original exterior body of the car to still be shown. This is the preferred method of producing multi-colored graphics that have complex design elements.
The next type of wrap that is slightly different than a wrap with digitally printed graphics, is a color-change wrap. A color-change wrap is one that is wrapped over every square inch of the vehicle, effectively changing the color of the car. A color-change wrap is usually a solid color that can be printed if you’re looking for a very specific color or it can come in pre-color rolls of premium adhesive vinyl.
Decals cut from pre-colored vinyl are simply referred to as “cut-vinyl” and are the easiest type of graphics to produce. Cast and calendared vinyl come in a variety of standardized solid colors like white, black, yellow, red, green, blue, etc. Simple text and one-color logos can then be cut from this vinyl and applied to a vehicle via application tape.
How to Decide Between a Wrap or Decals
Consider all the possible uses of your branded vehicle and weigh the pros and cons of going with a wrap or decals. Determine your budget and figure out what goals you want to achieve. Branding your vehicle is an investment that pays off in the long run and it’s a project that requires help from external sources. If you’re not sure of how to do the design or want to ensure that the installation is performed correctly, you will want to work with an experienced professional.