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The Future of Neon Signs in a Modern Advertising World

The technology that fuels the signage industry is always advancing and producing new ways to advertise. Businesses are always looking for innovative ways to stretch their advertising budgets. LED and digital signs have become popular ways for companies to advertise with flexibility. However, older forms of signage—like neon signs and old wooden signs—are still popular and hold a special place in the hearts of average consumers. Vital Signs manufactures neon signs and we are passionate about this timeless form of outdoor advertising.

Many companies believe that neon signs are dead. They have declined over the years, but they are still popular and effective at what they do. Neon signs have one advantage over mainstream signage, they are visually stimulating and surrounded by an aura of nostalgia. Never underestimate the power of nostalgia and the ability for it to generate additional exposure for your company.

Take Brian Daniel, a talent hunter from Chicago. A few years ago he was driving in Los Angeles on a business trip when he came across a set of neon signs. He was instantly drawn in by them and it reminded him of a time when the United States was dominated by this older form of advertising.

He complimented Los Angeles for having the right mix of neon signs.

“They have just enough peppered through the city where it just comes alive,” said Daniel, a Chicago-based headhunter. “I was so compelled by it that for two weeks I just drove around and took pictures of neon signs.”

Still, many businesses miss out on the opportunity to cash in on the effectiveness of this form of signage. Increasingly they are switching to modern forms of signage in order to comply with local laws and for increased flexibility.

“Neon spent most of its career in this country more hated than loved in terms of being banned and put under zoning ordinances,” said neon historian Thomas Rinaldi. “It’s an iconic part of the 20th century, but it’s been legislated out of existence in some places. There’s a vindictive attitude toward it.”

Neon signs became popular in the 1920s and only started to fade by the 1970s. After being used for nearly 50 years, they began to be replaced by modern forms of signage. Vancouver went to war with neon signs in the 1960s and pushed them out of the city, claiming that they desecrated the natural beauty of the region. In the United States, neon signs enjoyed 33 percent of the market share in 2007. By 2010, the numbers had declined to 18 percent. Even Hong Kong, a city known for neon signs, has started to replace them in favor of LEDs.

Regardless of the decline, neon signs are still insanely popular and a valid strategy for any company that is looking to captivate the imaginations of their consumers.

It’s that color, it’s that light,” said Kim Koga, an artist who worked with neon signs in the 1980s.

“I always loved neon because it was a representation of the future from the people of the past,” said Randall Brelsford, a fan of neon. “There’s something that’s just so romantic about dark and neon. It can be really sleazy or it can be really romantic. It’s a really adaptive light.”

Koga has made it her mission to preserve neon and has suggested that certain businesses have started its revival, understanding that it provides an image that can boost the standing of a business looking for a specific style.

“Making people aware of its unique history in America and the value of it has turned things around in L.A.,” she said. “There are enough examples that have awakened developers to the value of neon signs on their buildings. Now they want to put a neon sign on their buildings to give it that look.”

Vital Signs services businesses in Toronto, Mississauga, all of Southern Ontario, and the GTA. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us today.