Lighting Profits Beyond the Sign

Expanding your signage lighting real estate with LED architectural accents and border tubing.

How can you help your customers improve their visibility and increase their signage real estate? The key is to get creative and think beyond traditional signage. Using a well-designed architectural lighting scheme including LED accents and border tubing, you can help your customer stand out from their competitors and make their business a focal point for the area.

Many national chains like White Castle and Arby’s take advantage of this concept by adding border tubing around the tops of their buildings to ensure they are recognizable from all sides. White Castle wraps their stores with thin, blue neon-like LED tubing that only has visibility at night, while Arby’s uses wider profile tubing that keeps its daytime color.

Increased Visibility

Amarillo National Bank-located in the historical district of Amarillo, Texas-is a good example of a company using architectural lighting to extend its sign real estate and bring increased visibility to their business. The Amarillo National Bank is one of the largest family-owned businesses in the country and one of its buildings is located with a parking garage that faces historic Front Boulevard.

In its heyday, Front Boulevard was one of the best-lit streets in the country-rivaling even Las Vegas. Recently there has been a movement in Amarillo to bring Front Boulevard back to its historic glory. Working with Michael Wellborn and his team at Wellborn Sign Company of Amarillo, Texas, they created a historical look with border tubing and a blade sign. The parking structure was a pre-stressed concrete structure. Neon was used on the blade sign; however they choose to use red, white, and blue LEDStripe from SloanLED on the structure itself. This was to avoid multiple holes penetrating through the structure and keeping the structural integrity intact.

To make this installation even easier, Michael created a raceway to mount the LEDStripe. By using raceways he was able to house all wires and the power supplies. The raceway method also allowed tying the wiring together and only having to make a single hole on each floor that penetrated the walls. The tops of the raceways were left open to allow for easy service, if needed.  The raceway even with the product attached is lightweight and Wellborn Signs was able to install it away from the building to keep dirt from building up. The end result is truly an eye-catching sign that is not only visually exciting, but helps to add to the historical look and restore the glory of Front Boulevard.

Corner Location

In St. Louis, the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization experienced an urban renewal a few years back. Working with Engraphix, also located in St. Louis, they took the corner location of the Big Brother Big Sister and not only provided an historical look using a combination of neon letters and ColorLINE border tubing from SloanLED but also increased the signage real estate by 260 feet. The corner proved to be a challenge; however, they were able to work with the manufacturer to create the exact curves the job required. On top of the building they use RGB lighting to wash the top tier. The overall look is elegant and achieves the historical look they wanted.

Accenting Curves

Border tubing can also be used to highlight a curve or a unique architectural feature. The Calgary Saddledome, home of the Calgary Flames NHL Hockey team in Canada and the Alucobond building in Grand Rapids, Mich., are prime examples of this technique. The lines are simple and accent the curves of the architecture.

The Calgary Saddledome uses 1,800 feet of red LED tubing that can be seen for miles. The gentle curves of the Alucobond building use two red lines that accent the soft curves of the building while unifying the center and creating a hub for business. Both are beautiful sights at night.

Border tubing and accent lighting can also be used in interior applications, and the low voltage of the LED lighting can provide a neon-like look that is safer for customers.

LED Tubing Options

Not all LED companies offer tubing products and they are not as common as channel letter LEDs. Tubing products are primarily available in three options: tubing with daytime color, non-daytime color, and flexible. The palette of colors is limited; however, using white tubing and applying a sign vinyl will open up the color options. LED tubing options are lightweight, low voltage, and require minimal penetration through structures.

Other areas that may be subtle but will also add higher visibility to a business include soffit lighting and illuminating awnings-either washing light on top of them or illuminating them from the underside. Both solutions draw customer’s attention and show off the features of the brand.

From sports domes to historical districts, illuminating the perimeter of a business with LED border tubing or with fluorescent alternatives provides higher visibility and draws the customer’s attention. LED solutions are often easy to install and are great ways to increase your signage real estate.

Jill Bonilla

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