Using Vintage Styles to Brand Modern Business Signage

Every industry has trends that revert back to a more vintage style. Fashion, architecture and even the auto industry give nods to the past. Designers often pull specific elements from past designs to mesh with new technologies which creates a whole new look and feel. And it can even be something as simple as a material used or as subtle as a specific color tone. The same can be said for modern business signage. Creating that vintage style can be a great way reference the past while maintaining a modern look.

Here are a few vintage styles that have made a comeback in a modern form.

LED Tubing

Neon accent tubing was used pretty consistently in the 70's and 80's as a way to highlight buildings, casinos and gas stations. Neon is expensive to maintain, illuminate and isn't environmentally friendly, so it's popularity has declined. As neon has been phased out, LED tubing has slowly started to replace the once popular accent lighting.  Not only can it be used for accent lighting, but flexible LED tubing can be made to replicate exposed neon letters  It's becoming a great resource for the vintage neon look businesses are looking to achieve.

LED BulbsMarquee LED Bulb Letters - Rival House

Along the same lines as neon tubing, marquee light bulbs were once popular at diners, movie theaters and casinos. You could see them being used as chase lighting or even in open faced channel letters.  Because they were fluorescent bulbs, their longevity wasn't great and they needed to be replaced fairly regularly. LED bulbs are at a point where they're reasonably priced and have a long lifespan. Now, they can be used in custom applications like open faced channel letters. The look is basically the same but there isn't the need to frequently replace burnt out bulbs.

Weathered Steel

Rather than mimicking something from the past, weathered steel or Corten steel, is used to give the appearance that it is from the past. Corten steel is a process that ramps up and stops the aging process. The steel is washed with a salt solution to create rust. Once the desired look is achieved, a clear coat is applied to halt the process. It's being used more and more on monument signs and even as accents on buildings. 

While many architects and designers like the look of Corten, it can carry a high price tag. Because of this you can now find faux rust paint finishes to mimic the look of weathered steel. Another added bonus to the painted finish is that it doesn't leave rust streaks after it rains!

Rustic WoodVeil Orthodontics Eden Prairie - Interior Logo

Everyone loves the look of a rustic wood accent wall or furniture. Now, it's even making an appearance in signage! It can be used as an interior sign background or accents to signage. The wood backer has a soft quality to it and really plays nicely with the hard metal elements of the letters.  

Sandblasted wood signs are also an option for exterior business signs. The graphics are actually cut into the wood using a sandblasting process. This gives the sign some dimension instead of just a flat wood panel.   

NeonNeon Logo Sign

While neon will never be as popular as it once was, it still has it's place in modern business signage. Because illumination is easily affected by the outdoor elements, especially in Minnesota, we've seen it used more recently on the interior of businesses, and I'm not talking about the beer signs that are seen in taverns. Now it's used to create a retro look for company logos that can only be created by neon.

As with all industries, old styles and designs have a way of making a comeback.  Vintage styles will always have a place in the sign industry because it brings a certain nostalgia that people are fond of seeing. Whether it's accent lighting, marquee lighting or even sign backgrounds, the look and feel is important to get right. It should have the look that it's from the 70's or 80's but should function like it's brand new.

If you're looking for a blast from the past with your new business sign, give us a call today!

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Patrick Woller ""

Patrick Woller

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Patrick is a Graphic Designer at Spectrum Signs, a custom business sign maker in Blaine, MN. After a call from his college placement office, Patrick joined the Spectrum Signs team in 2010. Patrick finds enjoyment in the unique challenges his job gives him through the use of out of the ordinary materials. When Patrick isn’t designing signs, he enjoys spending time with his wife and daughter, hiking with his dog Willis, and getting out on the golf course.

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