Signage

Everything old is new again. It’s a proven formula not only in fashion and at the box office but also in integrated marketing.

Take signage, for example. Small businesses are always on the lookout for better ways to stand out, and retro elements, including neon or hand-lettered signs, are once again the bee’s knees.

Get that Old-Timey Glow

Neon signage made its fiery imprint on marketing in 1910 at the Paris Motor Show and grew in popularity in the United States between 1920 and 1960. Although its mass appeal suffered declined over recent decades, many cities and preservationists are restoring these signs and vintage enthusiasts are reviving the trend – as a casual search for #neonsigns on Instagram shows.

If you’re swayed by the bright, bold colors of neon signs, here are some tips to consider before working with your creative team to develop one.

  • Make sure the vintage flare of neon is on-brand for your company. Most people consider neon signs to be whimsical, romantic and nostalgic. This could send the right message for a restaurant or hotel but may be too informal for other types of businesses, such as a medical practice.
  • Neon is visible from 300-400 feet away and can be seen well in daylight. This is an important consideration, as any signage you select must be visible to a spectrum of viewers, including older generations.
  • Although you’ll want to keep neon signs out of touch – they’re hot! – they light up window graphics and displays and provide great visibility even when stores are closed.

Art Is Smart

Business-to-consumer, as well as business-to-business, marketers are seeing a backlash against cookie-cutter, one-size-fits all messaging. In response, many companies are embracing artisanal signs. This trend pays homage to talent envisioned by human hands and hearts, and helps sell products that aren’t mass-produced or mainstream, as The Atlantic explored earlier this year.

Even if your business is more mainstream, however, you can seize some of the best elements of artisanal signage by meeting at the intersection of art and marketing. (We offer some ideas here.) Plus, many businesses are working with artists to create brand-specific images and printing this artwork on t-shirts and other forms of wearable promotional items.

And while you’re reinventing the past to create your future integrated marketing strategy, be sure to incorporate the fundamentals, too. You won’t go wrong if you follow the same signage lessons employed by Hollywood.


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MarketingTango is the leading online resource for integrated marketing. The blog covers a wide range of marketing tactics and their place in an integrated marketing strategy. Regular postings will include articles, ideas, tips, and real-world solutions to help companies of all sizes achieve their business objectives.