Making faux-neon signs work for modern retailers

It’s no secret that bricks and mortar businesses need to do all they can to stand out in the modern retail landscape. But how they achieve this is becoming harder to grasp, as consumer shopping habits and industry trends are increasingly difficult to predict.

Supplying innovative and high-quality products is merely half the battle. A brand’s physical presence inside its establishments is just as significant for encouraging consumers to not only visit a store, but also make those all-important purchases.

Retailers can attract this business by incorporating striking or memorable features into their store design. Eye-catching neon or faux-neon signs—neon-style signs made from cheaper LED lights—prove difficult to ignore when passing by and enhance the retail experience for shoppers browsing in-store.

Traditional neon and faux-neon signs are popular shop-front and roadside decorations in many cosmopolitan retail hubs across the globe, from Hong Kong and Tokyo to Los Angeles and Austin.

While the signs that dominate these cityscapes are often excessive in size and expensive to maintain, they do provide ample inspiration for capturing the attention of potential customers nearby.

Faux-neon signs also allow businesses to experiment with the atmosphere their stores generate. This gives retailers an opportunity to have fun with their lighting, show the brand’s personality and improve the consumer’s overall shopping experience

Create a visual impact

Neon and faux-neon lights are designed to be attention-grabbing, so should be used for maximum impact. Their luminance and colour means they are almost impossible to overlook, especially when integrated into otherwise muted décor.The countless ways to personalise these lighting displays make them prime Instagram-bait, and when it comes to design and aesthetics, the more creative the better. They can also build or enhance a retailer’s brand or image by symbolising the lifestyle they represent for their customers.

In a study commissioned by FedEx in 2012, 76% of the American consumers surveyed said they would enter a store they had never visited before based solely on the appeal of its signage. 68% of those consumers said a store’s signage was the main reason they had actually bought one of its products or services.

Using a brightly coloured and well-lit neon or faux-neon sign to cut through the many visual distractions of a competitive high street could boost a store’s popularity in the long-run. Three-quarters of people surveyed in the FedEx study said they had told someone else about a store based on its signage alone.

Add a sense of nostalgia

Neon signage thrived in the decades between the 1930s and 1960s, but fell out of fashion with the emergence of LEDs. Easier to manufacture and cheaper to buy, LED lighting came to threaten the appeal of the once popular staple of city nightscapes.

Yet modern manufacturers such as NeonPlus are paving the way for custom faux-neon signs made from LEDs. These allow retailers to take advantage of the ‘neon renaissance’ happening among independent and multinational brands alike—without the shortcomings of traditional neon technology.

Fitting an eye-catching faux-neon sign to a wall or into a window display can invoke an impression of a bygone era or recreate the mood of a retro art installation.

Weighing up the costs

Whether inside or outside, neon signs are distinctive and striking—but they aren’t without their problems. Traditional neon displays can be fragile and tricky to install and frequently overheat.

On the other hand, LED lights that are fashioned to look like neon signs provide a safer and more energy-efficient alternative that doesn’t compromise on style.

LEDs are also cheaper to run than neon signs, requiring a lower voltage and around five times less power. They can also be maintained and disposed of without the need of a qualified professional—another cost involved with traditional neon.

So while the warm and welcoming glow of neon signs boast a certain old-school charm, it’s possible to achieve a similar but markedly more durable effect with faux-neon LEDs, at a fraction of the cost.


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