Back to the future – how signage has developed over the years

29.09.14

For a moment, cast your minds back to 1950s England. Rock and roll was alive and well, the comb-over was in full swing and despite house prices declining by an average of 7%, property signage was still very popular.

Back then, “for sale” signs were very simple images and usually printed on wood or metal, with the physical address of the estate agent included for people who didn’t have access to a phone. Check out this example:

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By the time the 80s brashly strode into view, signage materials had evolved and the T-Board had become the de-facto way to advertise your home for sale.

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And that was how it remained until the smartphone revolution of the 00s introduced much more interactivity through the use of QR codes and Near Field Communication (a system which alerts people when they are passing a home that’s up for sale and allows them to browse the particulars from their smartphone).

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Signage has come a long way. Before the 50’s, signs were mostly neon. Think fluorescent, bold and a little garish at times. But we loved it!

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Reputable for their flashy style, neon signs are made using electrified, luminous tube lights that contain rarefied neon or other gases. While they are still used worldwide, they were particularly popular in the United States between 1920-1960. Although a dated technique, neon signs have become a vintage treasure, making their way into eclectic homes and stylish pop up shops.

Around the 60’s, signage took on another evolution as neon signs were taken down all over restaurants, shops and billboards to make room for the new and improved LED sign. An LED sign is built with a flat panel display, which uses light-emitting diodes as a video display. A majority of the store signs and billboards you see today are LED display. Allowing signs to feature video, the innovation of LED has certainly revolutionised the way we use signage. Plus being cheaper to run than neon display, it’s an upgrade in every sense.

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Piccadilly Circus: The TDK and Sanyo signs are run using neon lamps, while the signs for Coco-Cola, Samsung and McDonalds are run using LED’s.

Signage of the future

Today, signage looks very different from what we left behind in the 60’s. Excitingly, there are now new innovations and ideas that are sure to grab the attention of your audience. One of our favourite innovations is augmented reality.

Augmented reality signage works by overlaying virtual information to the real world, showing people where a house is for sale and even allowing them to take a look through the estate agent’s brochure before deciding whether to view:

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When Google Glass hits the world next year, who knows what the impact could be on signage around your plot?

Stuck in the past?

At Hollywood Monster we like to think of ourselves as experts in designs that catch the eye. So whether you’re looking for a new “For Sale” sign, or something to entice potential buyers in a retail park, we’re sure to help you stay light years ahead of the rest. Download our guide, “12 killer questions to ask your signage supplier”, to see how we stack up against your current supplier. Just fill out the form on the right and we’ll send it straight to you.

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