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Workhorse Signage

(September 2010) posted on Tue Sep 07, 2010

A channel-letter overview with case studies


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ST recently covered the Holiday Inn brand signage relaunch (see ST, June 2010, page 76). In his report, Sign Management Consultants’ Chris Fitzgerald said the Holiday Inn brand and hotel chain was undergoing a $1 billion global campaign that included both a logo and signage redesign. Once completed, he said, the project will have required 9,300 channel letter and box signs for 3,200 hotel locations, to be built by 20 different sign companies.

Miratec Systems (St. Paul, MN) produced the majority of Holiday Inn’s changeover faces with its EFI Vutek 3360 digital presses and 3M inks. Bert Guinee, Miratec’s president, said his firm also produced the prototype work that demonstrated the flexible sign faces’ feasibility.

Earlier, Susan Conner, ST’s senior editor, covered the changeover’s initial announcement (see ST, November, 2009, page 46). She said Holiday Inn predicts the new signage will save an estimated $4.4 million annually – $3 million in annual maintenance and $1.4 million in energy savings – compared to its previous signage system.

Altogether, the new signs will contain more than 1 million ft. of LEDs from GE Tetra® LED lighting systems from GE Lumination (East Cleveland, OH). All the “H” logo sign cabinets and channel letters are lit with LEDs.

LEDs not always tops


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Loren Hudson, president of Hudson & Hudson Inc. (Houston), recently wrote of a LED-lamped Lexus dealership (see ST, August 2010, page 56) channel-letter sign that was refurbished by Houston-based ESD Sign Services. Loren is also The Neon Group president, an organization that provides neon technical support and, as well, promotes the use of neon.

Loren’s article noted the sign’s white, polycarbonate faces had been overlaid with gold-colored Mylar (polyethylene-terephthalate [PET] film) – an unusual choice for an internally lit signface. ESD reported the Mylar had, in part, separated from the polycarbonate.
The firm also detailed failure in 10% of the power supplies and 20% of the LEDs.

Subsequently, ESD ran a comparative cost analysis – LEDs vs. neon – through sign-estimating software and determined that neon was the less expensive refurbishing option. It offered cheaper upfront costs and lower operating expenses, Loren said.

Workhorse signage

Channel letters are, indeed, workhorse signs, and, other than font choices, they don’t require much artistry. However, in their classic form, channel letter have faithfully identified business sites worldwide for close to 100 years.


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