Running a retail store or a hospitality business such as a restaurant or a bar can be difficult. There are lots of factors that play a large role into how well your business will do, with one of the main ones being that of your competition. If you are a retail store selling clothes in a location that has many other similar stores, you are all going to be competing with one another. How are you going to make your store stand out amongst the others?
When it comes to attracting new business to your store, there is nothing more powerful than a great store sign. There are many different types of sign that you can use on the front of your shop, and the options available to you will depend on a variety of factors. The size of your store front will play a role into how attractive your sign can be, and if it is going to stand out or get lost among the other neighboring stores.
A brief history of signage
Using signs to signify certain locations or places is something that dates back to the ancient years. The symbols of the cross or fish were used by Christians to show their religion. Symbols and signs have always been used to identify certain things.
Even commercial signage can be traced back to the times of the ancient Greeks, Egyptians and Romans. In Roman times, signboards used to be made from materials including terracotta for shop fronts or to announce local events to the public. In fact, there are some very old types of trade signs that are still used today.
Outside some barber shops, you might still see the white colored pole with the red stripes, which were to actually show that other medical procedures such as bloodletting were performed in such places, and not just somewhere that you’d pop in to get a haircut or shave.
For hundreds of years, signs have been placed outside of stores to signify the type of store they are, as well as the owners name. Many businesses in the past were named after the proprietor, such as Johnson’s Guns, Smith’s Butchers and various others.
Most signs were simply wood with the name and proprietor painted onto them. Sometimes they would also state the year that the business was established.
Today the signs that we see outside shops haven’t changed all that much in terms of what they say. The big difference is the style and type of signs. Signs today are made out of all types of materials – wood, glass, plastic, metal and stone. Some signs are simple, while others are much more complicated. Some are hand painted, while others may be carved or welded.
Over the years as technology increased, so did the possibilities for store front signs, and neon lighting became a huge hit, and still is today with companies such as NeonMama.com at the forefront of the industry.
The age of neon lights
It was back in the early 1900’s that neon lights made their first appearance. They were invented by a French engineer and inventor named Georges Claude. After experimenting with neon gas, which was discovered a few years earlier by two British scientists, he discovered that when electricity was applied to the gas, it would emit a bright colour. Further work by Claude discovered that different gases such as helium and mercury could be used to create additional colours.
The first use of neon lighting for a store front occurred in 1912, when Georges Claude created and sold a neon sign to a Parisian barbershop. After the creation of his new company and patenting of neon lights, he began producing lights for a variety of businesses in France and the USA.
The decline of neon lighting
Though at its peak during the 1950s and 1960s, the use of neon lights for advertising and signage gradually started to decline. The advancement in technology, as well as other factors such as regulations regarding electricity and lighting meant that the demand never again reached the same levels it had previously experienced.
During the 1990s, LED lighting technology really took off, and was being used for all types of lighting, from simply home lighting to advertising boards and shop and business signage.
Neon lights in 2020
Despite the huge boom and demand for LED lighting, it was never fully able to replicate or replace neon lights. The range of the colour palate with LED is very limited when compared with neon, and in the age where we have a nostalgia for all things retro, neon has made something of a comeback, even if it’s on a relatively small scale.
Many new businesses are returning back to the use of neon lights for their store fronts, as they offer something that regular lighting cannot replicate. The warm, glowing light from neon signs really stand out, when compared to the bland corporate signs and lighting that are being used by a large number of businesses and stores.
In a high street that is packed full of different shops, many businesses want to find new ways to attract people to their stores and one way to grab the attention of the shoppers is through innovative signage.
Combining modern aesthetics and designs with the retro look of neon lights is a great combination, and lots of high street stores are seeing the benefits that having a unique storefront sign can bring.
Even if a person may not be interested in what your shop is selling, having neon signs glowing warmly outside the shop is a sure fire way for them to at least check out what you are offering.
Some final thoughts
Attracting new business to your store is an ever-evolving feat, and something that needs to be worked on constantly. With the world being digital and everyone online all the time, it’s important to be able to stand out among your competition in the high street and find ways of attracting potential new customers to your store.
Though we can all find everything we could possibly want to purchase online, there is still something unique and special about actually walking down a high street for shopping and being able to pop into different shops and see what they have. That’s an experience that cannot be replicated online, just as neon lights can never be truly replaced by more modern technology.