The high street has always been a competitive environment with a limited number of potential customers, established brand loyalty and a willingness to pay more at local and ‘authentic’ businesses. According to a report commissioned by the Economist, the high street retail environment has become considerably more cut-throat in recent years.
Retail sales are declining due to changing consumer habits, including a greater tendency to shop online. The outlook might be a little gloomy, with an added hint of uncertainty since Brexit, but there are still billions of pounds of commerce up for grabs. The tightening of consumer retail spending leads to an ever-more competitive environment, as an increasing number of businesses vie for a decreasing amount of consumer money.
Retail firms are working on drawing in customers and getting them to come back again and again with a variety of techniques, including cutting prices, diversifying their offerings and spending vast sums on public relations and marketing campaigns. There is a far easier option, however, that offers huge marketing potential, harnessing the power of brands and won’t cost you an arm and a leg: high street signage.
Retail signage is often overlooked, with many business owners assuming that provided that their trading name is nice and clear above the door, then customers will come in. This may be true enough, but such an approach fails to utilise the true potential offered by signage. In particular, halo illuminated signage can turn your shopfront from ‘just another shop’ that fades into the background, into an attractive, sleek and modern locale that subtly improves its surrounding environment.
What is halo illuminated signage?
There are several different forms of illuminated lettering used in signage, including side, full letter and face illumination, all of which are self-explanatory. Halo illuminated signage is a type of built-up lettering with LEDs positioned internally to create a glowing ‘halo’ effect behind the letter. The light is diffused onto the fitting surface upon which each letter is installed.
This is far more subtle and contemporary in appearance than large ‘lightboxes’ in use in so much high street signage which is, essentially, a box containing LEDs or fluorescent tubes that shine through a translucent sign on the front. Indeed, changes in planning regulations over the past decade have indicated a shift away from large illuminated surfaces towards more subtle and aesthetically pleasing forms of signage lighting.
Halo illumination can be used in built-up lettering fabricated from any material, from stainless steel and aluminium to acrylic and modelboard, depending on the precise effect and impression you seek to create. The illuminated surface behind the letter requires a little more thought. For the perfect halo effect, it’s wise to avoid dark coloured surfaces such as black, purple or dark brown as these colours absorb more light than they reflect. This can cause ‘spotting’, when the LEDs’ light doesn’t diffuse evenly, spoiling the halo effect.
Likewise, glossy surfaces should also be avoided. This is due to their high reflectivity which may even allow the viewer to see the LED modules themselves in the reflection when viewing side-on. For the sleek and beautiful halo effect that’ll make your premises the talk of the high street, matte surfaces with medium or light colours are the best bet.
The use of LEDs instead of tube lighting or powerful spotlights also provides several benefits in itself. LEDs usually last for several thousand hours, with ratings varying between models, but essentially providing a ‘fit and forget’ signage solution. LEDs are also very low producers of carbon, using between 5 to 10 per cent of the energy of halogen or fluorescent lighting.
Why illuminated signage?
As covered above, increased competition is the watchword of the day as a brick-and-mortar retailer. High street signage, if poorly designed or not looked after, quickly fades into the white noise of our image-saturated shopping environments. To really turn people’s heads, something a little different is required. Going all-out with brash, loud signage is likely to turn people off, but halo illumination provides an eye-catching yet subtle and understated solution.
Illuminated signage also has the benefit of making your store visible 24 hours a day, advertising your presence to any and all of the hundreds or thousands of daily passers-by. You aren’t likely to get much footfall at 4am on a weekday, but this feature is very valuable in winter, when the sun is already setting by late afternoon. Depending on your line of business, incorporating warm, welcoming colours into your sign could take advantage of winter by appearing particularly inviting to pedestrians.
Furthermore, humans are creatures of habit and people are far more likely to buy from brands or stores that they know. By having a highly recognisable and memorable sign on display 24 hours a day, and especially after dark, you increase your brand familiarity amongst your target market.
Put simply: imagine you own a bakery. Of those people who have seen your memorable and bright high street signage, when they come to need a custom cake designed or fancy some special bread, your bakery will be the first that pops into their minds. The same applies if they are asked by someone else to recommend a good bakery. Your glowing signage creates a good impression even if they’ve never set foot on your premises.
High street retail signage and the contemporary retail environment can feel like minefields. You want to attract customers, but not put them off by coming on too strong. At The Sussex Sign Company, we have the knowledge and practical experience that only comes from decades of working in the industry. And we’d love to put our finely honed expertise to use for the good of your business. Contact us today to see what we can do for you, on 01273 417057