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What Is an Illuminated Sign, Its Benefits, and How Does It Work?


What Is an Illuminated Sign, Its Benefits, and How Does It Work?


What is an Illuminated Sign?

Business signage helps form the all important first impression customers have of your company, organisation and brand. A good illuminated business sign will help you attract as many customers as possible. If you are here reading this blog, you may be exploring the options available to replace or invest in a new business sign. If your signage has sun damage, is missing any pieces, is bent, dented or simply looks overall worn out from the elements, your sign can make your business appear less desirable and less appealing, and in the end effect your business growth - so this blog is a great place to start if you are considering an illuminated option.

An illuminated sign is simply any sign that incorporates some form of lighting potential. This can be fluorescent, neon, halogen or LED. These lighting fixtures can be placed anywhere on, around or in the sign - for example signs can be back-lit, edge-lit, trough-lit, or have a spotlight mounted either overhead or on the ground facing the sign. 

LED lighting accounts for roughly 60% of all sign illumination. Its popularity and technology and increased exponentially over the last few years, and its 60% hold of the illuminated signage market reflects their durability, low-energy, flexibility and versatility as part of increasingly difficult sign designs.

Here will we walk you though the benefits and uses, as well as the most popular forms of illuminated signage so you can explore the options available, finishing with a tour of a custom cross-cut sample we had made here at Creative to illustrate how the most popular form of lit sign works, and what we have available to purchase right through our website.


Where Are Illuminated Signs Used?

Research into the signage sector has shown that illuminated signs have a strong impact on the viewer. Although in use for many years already, illuminated signage still maintains the ability to turn heads as most shoppers are attracted to this type/style of sign.

There are a number of options for illuminated signage as part of your retail display, and the list of options is only getting longer. LED signs are becoming the most popular option due to the vast range of customisable features, with an unlimited range of designs, colours, sizes, shapes and finishes. As the signage industry gets smarter, LED Illuminated Signs are increasingly maintenance free, have a long shelf life and longevity and low running costs – good news all around for the business finances and the environment!


In 2022, retailers and businesses are facing an even more precedented times ahead. In the age of online shopping and marketing statistics proving customers attention and patience spans are waning due to the rise of short videos, expected next day delivery services and longer opening hours, short lead times for custom goods, coupled with rising energy costs and fuel, the popularity of e-commerce over the years has led to a decline in face-to-face sales and the closure of many well-known stores.

Yet with that knowledge, businesses, the high street and retailers are fighting back and finding their footing amongst their customers new sales behaviour. People saw the rapid change brought around by lockdowns 1, 2 and 3 and not being able to roam freely due to Covid, and now flock to the high street to make up for that lost time by actively seeking  social interaction, receiving helpful advice from a real person, being able to call a shop to discuss their needs, and the ability to inspect and test products in person before spening money, with an overall more personal customer experience.

For all forward-thinking businesses, the need to make an impact has increased as markets become more responsive to customers needs, whilst also battling over fewer customers as people cut their spending. As the signage industry grows, and harnesses new material and manufacturing processes, costs for this type of signage are lower, have increased sustainability, and also offers the ability to make more complex signage creations to really harness branding and design. Illuminated signs have become an important marketing tool for many businesses, and a solid and worthwhile investment for securing potential customers attention.


You would normally have only found illuminated signage in retail parks that house later opening businesses, restaurants and entertainment establishments like cinemas and bowling alleys, but now the range of businesses employing illuminated signs is so vast. They really can work for any business, making it an effective way to showcase your brand. These include:

  • Exhibition and Event Venues
  • Offices
  • Sports Stadiums
  • Restaurants
  • Retail Shops
  • Highstreet Shops
  • Fast Food Outlets
  • Shopping Centres
  • Bars and Night Clubs
  • ...and more!

You can also employ illuminated signage for creative displays other than just external business branding signs. Some of the most imaginative examples we've helped create include:

No matter your business model, type or placement, illuminated signage comes into its own in all sectors. The options now available on the market can cover all placement spaces, size requirements, budgets and branding.


The Benefits of Illuminated Signs

Now you know what an illuminated sign is and the many forms it can take, you may be wondering why you would choose an illuminated sign over a flat panel sign. Here we have summarised the main benefits which are apparent, and why you should heavily consider them for your next signage project.


It goes without saying that humans are visual creatures, and we are naturally drawn to things that catch our eye. Any sign illuminated with LED lights immediately has an advantage over standard signage as we naturally are drawn to such lighting, especially when the brightness and design contracts drab or dark surroundings.

But what about during the day? Even during daylight hours, the design and lighting elements will stand out from the crowd even at a distance. It makes you easily recognisable, easy to find, and stand out from businesses operating in the same area. This added visibility can help drive an increase in sales and profits. 


Like daytime visibility, the night is where LED illuminated signage comes into its own. This is especially important during the winter time from September through till March when daylight is short. Using illuminated signage promotes your business throughout the evening and night time, giving you 24/7 visibility.

This is good to take into consideration if you have longer opening hours like bars and restaurants as you may be missing out on a fair amount of business when people are looking for a 'sign' you are open, host late shopping hours seasonally (especially around Christmas), or operate in a busy foot-traffic area even after closing. You will definitely maximise your reach with an illuminated sign, and be remembered the next time a person wants to go shopping.


Have you ever walked past a shop not wanting to enter because the signage was dirty, bare, broken or lacklustre?  The message that gives off it that the business is equally as faded, and as a customer, you may not be looked after either. That first interaction with your brand is crucial for public perception. Everything from placement, design, colours and font for text are important, and beyond these specific aesthetic design features, it is the visibility and presentation of the sign that will have the most impact. An illuminated sign gives off the message you are successful, vibrant, inviting and interesting, and well worth that consumers time browsing your wares. 


Illuminated signs are constructed using high-grade materials that offer long-term resistance to weather, ware and tear, as general usage. An LED sign for example can give you over 50,000 hours before you would need to consider changing the bulbs. Pending on the material used for the illuminated substrate (acrylic, a fabric print, plastic or PVC vinyl are the most common) most signage suppliers will give you a 5-10 year guarantee before the face shows signs of needing replacing, and will only need mild cleaning to keep it illuminating brightly before that time.

If your illuminated sign is outdoors, the aluminium components can last over 25 years, are rust-resistant and will likely not need full replacing, only a deep clean and weather-resistance adding to keep it going. Your branding is most likely going to need updating before that time, so if you have opted for a flex-face skin, this can easily be re-branded and applied back on your existing illuminated tray.


The return on investment of lighted signs always exceeds the initial investment. Business signage will be part of your company for life or until you choose to upgrade or change it. Compared to other effective advertising strategies, signage solutions and substrates signage can be made of, as well as considering their longevity, maintenance and how often you would need to endure the cost of replacement, illuminated signs will give you a considerable return on investment in terms of financial input, maintenance and added customer value and therefore, sales.


LED lighting can now commonly be found for bulbs in your home over halogen and fluorescent options - LED offers more than double the efficiency and increased life expectancy. Neon bulbs need 15,000 volts to run, while LEDs need just 24 volts. If you are thinking about a large outdoor display being illuminated, investing in an LED model means a huge saving in running costs. With reduced energy-use and longer lifespan, LED lighting is seen as the most sustainable solution, and accounts for its continued growth as the source of lighting in commercial signs.

As for the components to build the sign, aluminium is widely recyclable, long-lasting, and any sign makers go-to choice for sustainable signage. As mentioned earlier, the original investment is worth it, and will serve you for years to come.

LED Lighting Panel Delivery
Applying the Backlit Skin Into The Tray
Completed Project Ready For Illumination


The Most Popular Type of Illuminated Sign

Lightbox Signs, Halo & Individual Illuminated Lettering, Totem & Monolith, Wall Mounted, Post Mounted, Freestanding - the list of options is vast, and completely customisable. Whatever your vision for your illuminated sign, we can assist you in all parts of the process, from design, construction, installation and rebranding something you may already have in place.

The undeniable winner of the most popular type of illuminated sign, is the humble Illuminated Tray Sign. Imagine the lid of a biscuit tin, made of high grade aluminium, the LED curtains are then expertly fitted within the tray for edge to edge lighting capability, and a 'skin' or graphic with your design is stretch and held over the tray. The fitting rails are then mounted onto your chosen wall, and the tray fitted over them, creating a seamless and floating appearance with no trailing wires, fittings or support fixtures on display. Once mounted and a professional electrician has wired in your sign, its time for lights on!

We have partnered with some of the best material suppliers to build and produce illuminated tray signs. These are the easiest type of illuminated signage option to build, install and create. We got a cross-cut sample produced so we can walk you though all the components the sign features, so you can see exactly why we boast about them and all the benefits listed above!

Double-Lacquered Custom Printed Graphic can be easily tensioned using the internal bolt locking system
What you will see from the outside - No fittings, fixtures or hanging cables
Side Profile - Your graphic is attached to the system and is easily re-tensioned or removed and replaced without needing to remove the tray

Get In Touch

Is your business signage helping you attract new customers? Make sure your sign is helping your business grow. If you are not sure how to improve the visibility of your business, we can help with an expert site assessment as part of our no-obligation quote service. We have an array of Indoor & Outdoor Signage for all applications and budgets. And if you’re looking for a simpler solution in a standard size, we also offer Illuminated Tray Signs buyable online!

We invite you to learn more about what Creative Solutions can do for you. To get started, contact us today. We have worked with many clients in all fields of operation, from mall boutique high street shops, to large global enterprises. Our expert Quotations Team, in-house Design Team, and Installations Team are all on-hand to provide information and assistance.

Get in touch to discuss your options

Posted by Samantha on September 13th 2022

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