signage industry evolution

Epic Journey of Signs: Then and Now

From ancient Roman’s terracotta signs to today’s electric signs, signage industry has come a long way to become a $50 billion market in the USA.

From highways, business premises, campaigns, markets to a small parking area outside your home, signs and banners are everywhere.

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They are ancient advertising method which is still relevant in this era dominated by GPRS. They guide and alerts people to the roads, businesses and their destination. They help businesses attract the attention of new customers and raise awareness of their products. These signs also help political candidates convey their message to public during elections.

No wonder sign industry is a $50 billion market in the USA!

Here, we will peep into the history of signs board to know how they have evolved significantly over the years.

Origination of Signs:

Many historians believe that the use of signs dates back to 18,000 BC, meaning they were used somewhere during Paleolithic Age.

In ancient Rome, people used stone or terracotta to make signboards. The signs were used to show particular trades and government offices. During medieval times, King Richard II of England has made it mandatory for landlords to mount signs outside their properties. By 18th century, signs were so common and excessive on the streets that English and French government had to impose the law to remove them.

Industrial Revolution Was a Major Breakthrough:

It was not until industrial revolution in the USA that signs never remain the same. The example of this transformation was gas lit signs introduced in 1840. They guided and alerted the people to drug stores, retail shops and theaters until the electric lamp jumped into the scene. At that time, New York City was popular for the use of large and creative electric signs.

Popping Up of Neon Signs during Roaring Twenties:

Neon signs had their share of popularity when they were ordered by a U.S. car salesman in 1929. They were actually long luminous gas discharged tubes containing neon or other gases, earning them a title of “liquid fire”.

They quickly became popular for outdoor advertising.

Post World War II era saw a popularity of plastic signs that were preferred for their low maintenance over neon signs. Today, plastic is used in over 90 percent of signs in the USA.

Signs of Today:

Today’s signs are more advanced and graphically superior than their 19th or 20th century counterparts. The $50 billion signage industry is characterized with the signs boards being manufactured from various materials in countless of textures, finishes and colors.

How Will Signs Look Like in Future?

Whereas it is not easy to predict the future for any industry, signage industry will be evolved into more advanced forms due to the rapid technological changes. For example, signs of future will be equipped with sensors for an improved interaction with the people.


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