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Why Neon is 2019!

by Kyle Giles


Noticed neon signage on the high-street and in city centre hotspots like bars, restaurants and general leisure facilities? It’s vogue again, and I say again because trends go full circle. It’s all about differentiation and impact, what separates someone or something from everything else?

A history lesson

I hear you thinking there’s nothing innovative about neon, or is there? Traditional (you’ll understand later) neon originated in Paris, France in 1910 when a chemist called Georges Claude found a way to perfect control of electrified neon gas in a tube. Look through the archives of history and you can go even further back to when neon gas was first discovered in 1898. Of course, I’m not a historian, I’ve done my research and what I’ve just told you can be found here.

Fast forward 45-50 years and the product was used widely on commercial properties in the United States. It’s probably this it is most famous for. Think American diners, cinemas, motels, bowling alleys and you’ll start to remember. Watch critically acclaimed films like Grease or The Founder, it’s noticeable throughout. In fact, neon is symbolic with this period of American history.

Like anything, time moves on, technology progresses and with this we accept change which results in the norm. Neon quickly become a thing of the past. Florescent tubes, acrylic and plastic flex faces came along, it was a cheaper alternative and 9 times out of 10, the dollar bill (pound note) rules.

What do businesses want?

2019, people don’t like to conform to the establishment or the norm. Everyone wants to be different, stand-out and make an impact. Drinking a pint of Carling… everyone does that, it’s not cool! Drink a local cask ale, it’s different, people notice, it draws attention, creates a talking point and even contributes towards the local economy.

You might be thinking what on earth am I talking about but it’s relevant. The same applies to signage, businesses want something different. Take the hospitality industry for example, it’s a saturated market place, extremely competitive, restaurant chains are failing, new independents crop up looking for a competitive edge. This applies to bars, leisure facilities and back out to retail.

Entrepreneurs think, “how can I be different?”. Now I’m sure the first thing they are thinking is not “I need a different sign”, but as they paint a picture of the overall project, the sign will form part of the aesthetics, giving off the desired theme.

People want to be edgy, quirky. 

Neon is back. Full circle! Sort of…

There’s a reason neon faded (not literally), time stands still for no one, and technology stands still for absolutely nothing. As I mentioned above, cheaper signage alternatives came along, more cost-effective solutions. Manufacturing traditional neon is great but it requires a very specific skill set and one which isn’t practiced often anymore. If you want neon as it was 60 years ago, you’re going to have to pay a premium.

In addition to this, it can be a fragile product, anything made from glass has the potential to break from a sudden jolt or knock. Not ideal.

It must be said, it still has a place, not everyone is deterred by the points highlighted above.

An alternative solution

Faux neon! What is it? It’s a product which is essentially manufactured out of acrylic and LEDs and gives the desired effect. The appearance is almost identical, yet the make up of the product couldn’t be more like chalk and cheese.

Here at Smith Sign and Display we offer faux neon as part of a signage portfolio. The Neon Letters we supply are incredibly versatile, it offers unparalleled brand accuracy and the possibilities are neon nigh on endless. Whether a face-lit or edge-lit solution is required, it’s doable.

So, why faux neon, what are the benefits to your customer? I am going to sum these up and be straight to the point.

  • It’s robust and manufactured out long-lasting LEDs, meaning reduced maintenance.


  • LEDs are energy efficient and running costs are 80% lower vs traditional neon, this equals lower electricity bills and more savings £££.


  • Our Neon Letters are CE rated for peace of mind, and therefore you get a quality product which meets expectations.


  • Extremely customisable to ensure brand accuracy can be achieved; Eight static colours are available, seven standard acrylic colours and even a digital strip. Every project should be possible.


Those reason alone should be enough to give you confidence in the concept. Want to know more about neon signage and see how it can help provide an eye-catching appearance to your customer’s brand? Download our dedicated product brochure by clicking here. Got a question you’d like to ask? Feel to get in touch, email kyle@williamsmith.co.uk

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