Why is the design of haulage companies so “special”?


Passing one of Germany’s largest cargo stations on a daily basis, I noticed that the design of lorries is quite different from most regular design.
To be frank, it usually strikes me as rather bad.
Recurring features contributing to this impression include:

  • low readability, either due to the chosen typeface or backgrounds;
  • shadow effects;
  • clunky, indistinctive typefaces;
  • excessive use of all caps or small caps;
  • overly tight or wide letter-spacing;
  • a general retro feel (1990s, if I am not mistaken).

There are occasional exceptions from this, but the general trend is striking.


What are the reasons behind these peculiarities of the design of haulage companies? For example:

  • Are there any practical reasons for these choices?

  • Are these designs aimed at a particular kind of customer (of the cargo companies)?

  • Is it a case of intentional cheap design? If yes, why?

  • If it is just (unintentional) cheap design, why is this an economic choice? I would expect that if this is a relevant means of acquiring customers, the design would be better. On the other hand, if it is not, I would expect the design being completely home-made¹ or the space being used for advertisement.

If it makes any difference, I am asking about Central Europe here.

¹ which could explain some cases, but seems unlikely for some of them


Note that most of the following examples were obtained via a trapezoid transform and may not have an exact aspect ratio.

Example 1

Example 2

Example 3

Example 4

Example 5

Example 6

Example 7

Images adapted from the following sources:


From the experience of the person working for the company making the tarpaulin (among other things printed on those type of materials):

I was responsible for the graphic of those “other” prints. For the tarpaulin it was the printer who created the graphic. They usually get the project delivered by the client in some form (typically Word or clipart). Because they had limited time, they just put what they have into RIP that also created a preview for the client. If the RIP didn’t have any issues, what the client delivered was what they got.

Rarely (about one in twenty cases), they asked for some tweak. Which was minuscule to what “professional graphic designer” would deem as needed for the projects.
Also, often, the customers had few of those lorries, and because good tarpaulin is not something that wears pretty quickly, they wanted to have “unified” look.
So a project made in early 2000s had to be similar to one made in late 1980s where printing on such large areas was limited to only few fonts and shapes.

Source : Link , Question Author : Wrzlprmft , Answer Author : Wrzlprmft

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