Things to Keep in Mind When Ordering Illuminated Advertisement

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Pause for a moment on a brightly lit downtown street and count just how many illuminated advertising signs or logos you see around you. Shopping centers, office buildings, petrol stations and restaurants all want to stand out in the urban landscape and demand customers’ attention. If you should also one day find yourself in need of illuminated advertising for your business, what to keep in mind when choosing the right solution?

There are many different solutions on the websites of manufacturers of illuminated advertising. Lightboxes, letter lights and ad columns. The materials and technologies are also different with some advertising being front-lit while others are back-lit or side-lit.

The easiest way is to send a request to the advertising manufacturer with a logo file and information about the proposed location of the advertising sign. Will it be indoors or outdoors, how visible should it be from a distance? It helps to include a picture of the place where the advertising sign will be placed.


The size of outdoor advertising is determined by the distance from which it is viewed

According to Springmar’s Sales Manager Mario Märtsin, a good place to start is to work out who should be seeing the ad and where it will be placed. “The location also determines how large the advertising sign could be. At first glance, a three-meter logo on the façade of a building may seem huge, but when most potential observers pass the building while driving on the road some 100 meters away, the three-meter logo can look like a narrow strip of light, failing to communicate the desired message entirely. Perspective or how far the logo is viewed, is definitely one of the most important criteria.” Märtsin says it is difficult to pinpoint a foolproof solution, however, because logos come in all shapes and sizes. “For example, if a logo is made up of two words and 25 letters, even eight meters may not be wide enough because each letter is so tiny.” One option is to put each word on a separate line, provided that the rules for using the logo permit this.

In the case of large-scale advertising solutions, it is also very important to consider installation and transport options. As a rule, large-scale advertising signs are produced in several parts and assembled during installation. This often requires special equipment.

For the manufacturer, it is important to know whether the advertising is for indoor or outdoor use. Some solutions are weatherproof, others are not suitable for outdoor use at all. Springmar’s website specifies this information for each product. “Outdoor advertising generally uses mechanically screwed or trim-mounted solutions rather than glued parts,” says Märtsin.


The final cost will be determined by the production, installation as well as transport to the site

If you have settled on an initial vision for the desired solution, it is certainly worth looking at the proposed budget. The calculator on Springmar’s website can give you an estimate of the approximate cost of a particular solution. The final price will also depend on the installation. “Does the client want to have the advertising sign mounted onto the façade and how can it be accessed? Does mounting require any special equipment? For example, it might be forbidden to drive cranes and forklifts onto green areas in front of some buildings. If this is the case, advertising must be mounted from the roof or using suspended scaffolding from the top of the window ramps,” says Märtsin. Every advertising solution is unique and there are many different aspects to consider that will affect both the final price and the production solution. It is not uncommon for illuminated advertising to be cheaper to produce than to install and transport. Springmar’s team will help you find the right balance between the solution you want and the budget you have.

The manufacturer and installer need to know the height at which the advertising sign is to be installed or mounted and the intended solution for the power supply. “For example, buildings with a glass façade might not have power supply provided at all and there is nowhere to get it from,” says Märtsin. “Buildings with glass façades have specific areas where power can be routed through, but this cannot have any effect on the essential elements of the building structure.” The client should establish in advance whether a 220V power supply is available anywhere near the desired installation site.

Whether to choose a front-, back- or side-lit advertising sign depends primarily on the environment in which the solution is used. Is the logo intended to be more informative or does it form part of the interior or exterior design? Back-lit advertising works well for smooth façades, while front-lit advertising is more suitable for profiled or wavy façades. Illuminated advertising should be in contrast with the background. There is no point in having a brightly lit advertising sign on a light façade. If the logo is in the same colour as the façade, a backing board in a contrasting colour is usually used.
Illuminated advertising is not only used to display a company logo, but also for informative signage at airports and bus stations, for example. “If you happen to enter the site of a large logistics centre in the dark, unlit signposts will simply go unnoticed. This is where illuminated arrows and signs come in handy,” says Märtsin. The lighting solution can also be part of the façade design. The shelter screens of petrol stations are illuminated with light strips, helping drivers see the petrol station from a distance. In shopping centres, portals illuminated with different light effects are placed around the entrances of shops to attract clients’ attention.


Co-ordinate the solution with the building owner and, if necessary, with the local government

Märtsin highlights another important aspect that clients should take into account when planning an outdoor advertising installation. “Clients should be aware of the advertising tax imposed by the local government in the urban space. It is also necessary to obtain the approval of the local government for mounting the chosen type of advertising sign on the façade in the given location. A local government official is responsible for ensuring that the city is kept free of excess light pollution. So that no one puts their massive logo behind someone’s bedroom window.” In Estonia, businesses usually operate in rented property and need to co-ordinate the installation of illuminated advertising with the owner of the building and the local government. This will be based on a concept sketch that describes the technical details of the illuminated advertising, from size to luminous intensity.

Care should also be taken with roadside light posts and digital screens. These must not be placed too close to the road as they risk distracting drivers.
Shopping centers have a standard concept for both indoor and outdoor advertising as well as clear rules on the types of advertising that can be displayed. This is another case where you need to consider the distance from which illuminated advertising is viewed.


What type of logo is best for illuminated advertising?

Any new company designing and creating its own logo should also consider how their logo might be used in different situations. A complex and detailed logo that works seamlessly in digital media can be a challenge for an illuminated advertising manufacturer. Remember that more complex solutions generally require a higher budget. The simpler the logo, the better.

For indoor advertising, Märtsin recommends not to make the text too small and to set the letter height at least 50-70 mm. “Otherwise, it will appear as a blurred white stripe and the text will be illegible.”

What should you do if your logo has a lot of intricate details, such as text in smaller print under the logo? “It’s easier to handle small details indoors where there is ambient lighting. For small text, the contrast of light on dark or dark on light suffices. You can also just use a sticker here,” says Märtsin.

Use the short version of the logo.

Urban spaces often mandate that illuminated advertising must be in a similar tone to surrounding logos, making it particularly important to use a short version of the logo. A constant battle for consumer attention wages in the world of illuminated advertising with strong emphasis on the rule: less is more.
Long words in calligraphy are beautiful to look at on a computer screen, but on an illuminated sign, the eye is simply unable to grasp it. Franchise CVIs are generally flexible and it is advisable to prefer the short version of the logo.

In addition to technical dimensions, it is important to remember that this is still advertising after all and should draw attention. You need to think about how to stand out from the competition. Whether there are pre-set parameters that the logo has to fit in a 4×1.5 square, but the shopping centre has you next to a competitor with just 5 letters to their name. This can mean that your competitor gets their message across more effectively.

Or perhaps your logo is as familiar or even more familiar than the full brand name? Take McDonald’s, for example. McDonald’s used their instantly recognisable logo as illuminated advertising on the roadside and not the word “McDonald’s”.

Märtsin points out that darker-coloured logos are more difficult to illuminate. Dark blue and dark red are particularly demanding. They are usually illuminated by LEDs of the same colour. It can also be more difficult to capture illuminated advertising signs like this, as images tend to look blotchy when shot with a regular camera. “If you look at this kind of advertising with the naked eye, it looks fine, but it’s harder to get a decent photo for marketing materials, for example.”
Should you prefer front- or back-lit illuminated advertising? They cost the same. Much depends on the background system and the temperature of the message you want to convey. Premium brands are often backlit as this gives the impression of exclusivity.

There is a common misconception that the logo should look the same when it is lit and unlit. If you send a specific colour code to the illuminated advertising manufacturer, you need to keep in mind that the colour will become a few shades lighter when illuminated.

Does the number of colours in the logo affect the price of illuminated advertising and if so, how much? “90% of illuminated advertising signs are produced using powder painting for the final finish. Powder painting will make sure your advertising survives for longer, even in the harshest of conditions, because we use the right coating solutions for Estonian and Scandinavian climates,” says Märtsin. “Powder paints have a fairly limited colour range. For larger quantities, it is also possible to produce custom colours, but this will take longer to deliver. As a standard solution, we use classic RAL shades, which is definitely preferred as well as more cost-effective for clients. For aluminium details there is no price difference for standard shades, provided that there is a suitable RAL colour chart match.”

Illuminated surfaces allow for more or less infinite options and the number of colours has no impact on the price. Coloured illuminated surfaces are printed on illuminated advertising film and the film is placed on the acrylic glass.

Does the customer have to say anything to the manufacturer about the intensity or brightness of the light, or are there specific standards that the manufacturer follows? “There are two basic measurable quantities when it comes to light,” says Märtsin. One is the tone of the light. This is measured in kelvins. 3000 K is warm, 6500 K is colder. Another important nuance is the intensity or lumens, or the brightness of the light. “As a rule, our standard solutions are suitable for Estonian conditions. If the advertising should really end up close to someone’s bedroom, however, the intensity cannot be that high and should be toned down,” says Märtsin. This is why you can order a dimmer to adjust light intensity. The same is true for indoor advertising – in dimly lit environments, very brightly lit advertising can be uncomfortable on the eyes. According to Märtsin, about a third of Springmar’s illuminated advertising is ordered with a dimmer and this trend is growing.


Environmentally conscious approach and guarantee period

Many large companies now impose requirements on the environmental sustainability of their promotional materials. Which kind of illuminated advertising is least harmful to the environment? “One of the things we do at Springmar is that we measure our CO2 emissions and try to find ways to become increasingly environmentally friendly. Unfortunately, classic illuminated advertising cannot yet be 100% “green”. There is no material available that is both durable and completely environmentally friendly,” explains Märtsin. However, Springmar’s range does include a Green Line option made of recyclable aluminum and acrylic glass. Springmar holds ISO 14001:2015 certification for its environmental management system and all waste management is measurable and regulated. “We are following this very closely indeed,” says Märtsin. “Nothing is thrown away without consideration, we make the most of the materials.” Springmar also offers its clients the option to dispose of old illuminated advertising signs by dismantling them into parts and sorting them according to waste management requirements.

How long does it take to produce illuminated advertising? According to Märtsin, you should allow at least four weeks. “We can do it in 2.5 weeks if needed, but that requires very clear input from the client. Where the advertising sign will be installed, information on the location of cables, dimensions, and color codes. If the advertising sign has been produced so that the power cable exits from the bottom right, and upon installation it turns out that the power on site is supplied from the top left, there will be quite a lot of work involved in resolving the matter in a civil manner.” This is one of many examples of what can happen with express orders.

Märtsin also recommends that you pay attention to the guarantee period of the product you choose. As a rule, illuminated advertising is not ordered for a few months, it is more of an investment intended to generate a return for years or even decades. Advertising with a five-year guarantee, for example, costs EUR 2,000, while a two-year guarantee costs EUR 1,700. But if the LED light or transformer blows out or the paint or film starts to peel after three years, repairs and refurbishment can be quite costly. For example, it may be necessary to order a forklift to replace a transformer or LED lighting, or if the situation is more complex, the advertising might need to be removed from the wall altogether and reinstalled later. This cost is usually much higher than the money that was initially saved.“

Springmar provides a five-year guarantee on standard products and this includes a full service – installers come on site and replace the transformer. For foreign customers, Springmar will use a local partner to carry out guarantee work and will cover related costs during the guarantee period.