Often, we receive an order for outdoor channel letters that is based on a generic logo that was designed by someone who didn’t necessarily have specific instructions to design it for a high exposure sign. Even when they are designed specifically for outdoor signage, we run into problems with some elements because the designer is not specifically familiar with sign-specific experience. Specific elements can create production challenges or can simply create signage that doesn’t “pop” enough to stand out in the crowd.
These challenges are why our account reps and designers make an effort to provide feedback and suggestions to the owners who are willing to listen. We definitely want to make your signage work for you! So, we focus on key items to help your branding make the biggest impact.
Location. Location. Location.
Knowing where a display will typically be read from is the first priority. If your sign is primarily designed to be viewed head-on, then backlit letters are a good option. However, if it’s a greater possibility that they will be viewed at an angle then there is an advantage to face lighting or shining light onto the letters. Even at shallow angles, the depth of halo-lit letters can be distorted beyond legibility when they rely on illumination.
The next consideration is definitely the business’s personality. Often our suggestions are based on the company culture and how the sign conveys that culture. Colors, lights, and even shapes or fonts can be correlated to the culture and atmosphere of the business. This helps a new client to have an idea of what to expect before ever walking in the door in some cases.
In some cases, our suggestions just simply boil down to reality. If we are asked to do backlit channel letters but the mounting surface won’t work well with those letters then there is an issue. The client isn’t going to be happy with the result because it didn’t accomplish their goals. In certain situations, the best solution is to keep it simple with clean letters. Then we can add illumination to the front. How we mount the letters, the surface for mounting the letters, the color of the surface were the letters are mounted can all play a role in the end design and the way they need to be illuminated. Large and evenly colored walls work best when using reverse-lit channel letters. Whereas multiple colors or ridged spaces tend to call for front lit signage.
Once LED channel letters are installed, most of them are made of durable, noncorrosive construction that last a long time. LED lights last for approximately 10 years and can be replaced. The biggest challenge with LED’s can often be the power supplies and not the lights themselves. However, the power supplies can also be replaced. The reality is that the endurance for LED lit signs is longer than most. Very little maintenance is required to keep these channel letters in good shape above and beyond cleaning them on occasion with soap and water. Which is a huge pro for those who have had to deal with NEON signage in the past. However, there are also a few cons. Moisture can create issues for LEDs over time so the letters have to be correctly installed and sealed for proper performance. Heat can also affect the lifespan of LED’s in very hot climates. It’s also a good idea to clean out any flying insects who meet their unfortunate demise in your lights ever so often.
If you are in the process of considering or designing channel letters for your building, we would love to help. Our team has installed 100s of outdoor channel letters in various forms, materials, lighting systems, and mounting locations. We will provide our experience to help maximize your invest. Just reach out to us and ask!