Backlit outdoor transit sign

The point of a sign, in essence, is to grab your attention. All businesses, from small mom & pop shops to large multinational corporations recognize this and are aware that signage can increase sale. As a result, we encounter lots of signage every day, everywhere. And where there’s lots of signage, it’s of paramount importance that yours stands out—or risk getting lost in the mix. So what can you do to ensure yours has an engaging presence?

It’s quite simple; do something different! Backlit signs are one signage option that provide this necessary element of distinction. The rest of this article explains why they’re effective and worth considering for your next sign project.

Backlit signs stand out

How the human brain interacts with our surroundings is of great importance.

Our brains are constantly bombarded by a flurry of stimuli from each of the 5 senses. In order to avoid becoming overwhelmed, the hypothalamus is conditioned to filter this stimuli so that only a small portion of environmental activity is actually processed. This process, known as selective filtering, occurs subconsciously and requires a change or break in environmental uniformity to become disrupted.

The light illuminating from a backlit display sign can be a signficant enough change in the environment that selective filtering is disrupted, making it much more likely that it will not be missed. This is especially true if there are no or few other illuminated signs in the surrounding area. Anything is easily missed in a sea of sameness; but much like a lighthouse in the dark of night, a glowing sign is a beacon that cuts through uniformity and grabs your attention.

It’s not only important that a sign catches attention, but holds it long enough for the passerby to consume it’s message and not abandon his/her attempts to digest the information part-way through. When a sign is backlit, it automatically attaches an element of importance and mystique to the sign. It suggests that “there must be something special about this”. This perceived importance increases the chances that illuminated signs will be fully-read, relative to one that is non-illuminated (everything else being equal).

Light affects our mood

There have been many studies conducted on the effect light has on our mood, perceptions, and emotions. One study suggests that human emotions (positive or negative) are felt more strongly under bright light.

Emotions have long been exploited by the advertising industry, as brands use feelings to get people to buy. If light can heighten emotional response, illuminated signs increase the likelihood that feelings will be activated...and wallets may be opened.

Retailers recognize the persuasive powers of light as well and spend lots of time and money to achieve “optimal” conditions.

Minhaly Bartha, Head of Lighting at GPStudio agrees:

Lighting has a direct influence on our mood, with 80% of the sensory information the brain receives coming from our eyes. Lighting highlights architectural elements, product qualities and creates virtual spaces - impacting how we feel, what we think of a product, and ultimately the choice of whether to purchase or not.
- Minhaly Bartha, Head of Lighting at GPStudio

The power of 24 hours

Signs that are lit up at all times of the day are beneficial for a couple of key reasons.

As with all signs, exterior signs are only functional if they can be seen. By default, any exterior sign that is not illuminated or located in an area with a surrounding light source is rendered useless in the dark of night.

Although there is typically more passing traffic during the daytime, the hours from dusk to dawn still present a major opportunity for exposure. In terms of ROI on signage expenditure, a backlit sign commands a greater yield as it never “takes a break” and is primed to catch attention at all hours.

Another reason why 24 hour illumination is imporant is because of sleep patterns. Why? It all has to do with alertness.

Not everyone works a regular daytime shift. Shifts worked during the night, evening, and on a rotational basis are performed by one third of the Canadian labour force, and the UCLA reports more than 22 million Americans also work irregular shifts. Unfortunately this can wreak mayhem on normal sleeping patterns and disrupt circadian rhythms, which ultimately decrease levels of alertness.

Studies show that bright light has alertness-enhancing effects that are particularly strong at night or after sleep deprivation. These effects are also present during the day, though to a lesser degree.

Sadly there are quite a lot of people afflicted by sleep deprivation or a host of other issues that decrease alertness. The attention of this unfortunate and less-alert demographic is especially challenging for marketers to capture. Harnessing the alertness-inducing effects of light however, marketers can utilize illuminated signage to increase their chances of engaging these people.  

The bottom line:

Signs are a common, widely-used advertising and informational medium. Money spent on a sign that doesn’t get much attention is not well-spent, so it’s very important that it stands out.

Having your signs backlit is an effective way to achieve that distinction. Through illumination, they stand out, can strengthen emotional responses which may lead to a purchase decision or consideration, and are effective at all hours of the day. Common types include LED backlit signs, Edge-lit LED and fluorescent.

Would you like to catch more attention for your company with backlit signs? Give the experts at PrismTech Graphics a call to help light up your sales.

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