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Making your business stand out: LED vs. Neon bar signs

November 27, 2014 5 min read

In the world of business, it is a pretty well known fact that you have to create a unique identity in order for your brand to manifest into something that will remain prevalent in the eyes of the general public. However, despite branding being an integral part of any marketing strategy, it is not always necessary to invest as much time into creating a brand persona, as it can be to simply lure customers in with clever and attractive advertising.

What is important though, is to ensure that your advertising plan is designed to capture your audiences’ attention and cement a place within their minds, so as to ensure that your advertisements (no matter what they are) become synonymous with your business.

A prime example of clever advertising is Paddy Power’s tongue-in-cheek, billboard and TV advertisements that aim to stir controversy and generate conversation throughout the social world. The playful nature of their advertisements ensures that, whenever or wherever these billboards are placed, there is a clear association between the ad and the brand.

Getting your business noticed

Dating back to the late 1800’s, billboards are a much more traditional form of getting your brand noticed, but technological advancements have now enabled businesses to create more memorable advertisements. Larger businesses and corporations, such as Coca-Cola, possess the financial ability and resources to execute some truly exceptional advertising strategies.

Coca-Cola’s iconic Christmas TV advert featuring Santa Claus has become synonymous with the “start” of the festive season after decades of including him within their winter advertising.

For smaller businesses, like bars, it can be far more cost-effective to simply utilise LED or neon bar signs as a method of getting your business noticed.  Word of mouth is essential when it comes to small business marketing and by using a bright, eye-catching sign, you can increase the chance of your brand getting noticed.

A typical example of using bright and colourful signs to get noticed was during Soho’s burgeoning sex industry in the 1970s, where the late Chris Bracey helped to illuminate the streets with commissions from “...99% of every sex establishment in Soho for 20 years,”.

But which is better, LED or Neon Signs? To decide, we’ve reviewed the pros and cons of using each and present our findings for you here, so you can make up your own mind.

LED Bar Signs – Flexible, but expensive

LED signs and LED business signs have been about for many years, and owe much of their success to the electric lights used in the early 20th century. Although the lights were not LED’s, they were simple incandescent bulbs, places such as the famous Moulin Rouge found that having blinking lights attracted customers, and since then the bulbs used have been getting brighter and smaller ever since.

The advantages of having an LED bar sign are that you can put pretty much any type of display you want on them, and they’re easy to change. Whether you’re looking to raise your prices or advertise special offers, you’ll be able to do so from the comfort of your bar’s office, and you won’t have to be an expert to do it.  If you’re looking for something that you’ll want to change, time and time again, then LED bar signs are pretty good for this. And, what’s more, their eco-friendly too!

Unfortunately, all this comes at a cost. LED display signs are considerably more expensive, as the technology has to be there to back it up and, in addition to this, LED sign lights (to replace exhausted ones) are more costly too.  There have also been questions raised about how good the light really is when it comes to catching the eye in certain conditions.

Neon Bar Signs – Hard to change, but brighter and more noticeable

Neon has been used for advertising since the early 1900s, when Jacques Fonseque recognised the advantages that neon signage could bring, and decided to go into business. In the 1910s, Paris became host to two marvellous neon installations, with the entrance to Paris Opera illuminated by neon tube lighting, after the success of Vermouth Cinzano’s large neon sign, which lit up Paris like a beacon. Since then neon signage and bars have gone hand in hand. It’s appeared in movies from Cocktail to Cars and is certainly something that is associated with excitement and interest. If it’s good enough for the Las Vegas sign, it’s good enough for us.

This brings us to the biggest advantage that neon has over LED’s. It’s more noticeable. People who are passing by on a rainy street can’t help but notice a neon bar sign, whereas an LED one is more likely to be ignored. Neon is far more attractive too. Blinking lights are one thing, but the raft of colours and shades that can be used to make up a neon sign can make something really stunning, and eye-catching. In addition to this, neon lights have a longer life span than LED bulbs, so maintenance is not likely to cost as much in the long run, making it much more cost-effective for bar owners.

Another key feature of using a neon bar sign for your business is that it offers you a 360o light span since the whole tube illuminates when turned on, which is of a particular benefit at night time. Since the tubes are lifted from the base, neon light is emitted from every angle of the tube illuminating the atmosphere and creating a glowing effect in low light levels (shown above and below). LED bar signs, on the other hand, are flat lights and each one must be fixed to a base to supply them with electricity. This is somewhat of a disadvantage since light can only be emitted in an outwards direction, as opposed to behind as well.

Another advantage of using neon over LED for your business is that there are a vast array of different colour tubes that are available, so even if you’re looking for something specific, it’s more likely than not that it’ll be achievable. With LED lighting, although there are a number of different options available, there isn’t as much diversity in colour as there is with neon.

Of course neon bar signs do have one disadvantage, in that although it is lifted slightly, it is still fixed to the base. However, it’s important to put this into perspective when it comes to using the light for its initial purpose; it illuminates like no other. If you’re a bar owner, with a neon sign above your door advertising the name of your bar, how many changes are you really likely to make?

Although LED’s have their uses (displaying prices and offers) it’s first impressions that count, and when it comes to getting people through the door, which is a bar owners mission, neon bar signs certainly get the job done and.


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