LED Neon Signs – A New Version of Old School Marketing

Advertising and marketing have gone through some pretty significant changes through the decades or even centuries.

Certain types of adverts have become outdated, and in some cases, even outlawed. Cigarette and tobacco advertising has now gone by the wayside in many countries, and other styles of marketing have died out.

Print advertising was the biggest form of marketing for decades, but now the internet has taken over in many ways. Digital marketing is highly important to many businesses, especially for ecommerce. However, people sometimes forget the importance of the older ways.

One of the most effective, and iconic, ways to market or advertise a business in the past was to use neon. French cafes in Paris, bars in Soho, London, big brand names in Times Square, or the pink and cyan-drenched streets of Tokyo. Neon is everywhere.

Like all things, modern ways and technology intervene to produce an alternative. But, is this new way better, or should neon keep on going?

When did neon first arrive?

A Scottish chemist called William Ramsay, later Sir William, was the first person to discover a number of noble gasses. One of these was neon. This was in the early 1890s, and within a decade or so, others had worked out how to turn this gas into a marketing dream.

Neon first appeared in the form that you know it at the Paris Motor Show in 1910. It was used in tubes of glass to display a bright red light, much to the astonishment of the visitors.

Within 3 more years, neon was lighting up the sky of Paris, with famous brands the first to adopt it. Cinzano grabbed this new phenomenon with both hands and displayed their logo for all to see in 1913.

Perhaps strangely for some, it was another two decades nearly before Las Vegas started to really use neon. The city that is maybe the most synonymous with neon was a relatively late adopter compared to Europe.

Now though, neon is so linked to Sin City that there is even a museum devoted to it.

How effective is neon for advertising or signage?

These days, video and social media are two of the most popular ways to market a business or even a celebrity. Print remains popular for certain reasons, including fashion and glamour magazines as it has a certain cache.

Billboards work for lawyers and other businesses. Radio ads still help local businesses, and even Yellow Pages still have a place.

Neon, however, is different from all these forms of marketing.

This type of lighting is connected to misty, dark nights when gangsters cross in Vegas. Or, love-struck couples meet outside the cinema before heading in on a date.

Neon creates atmosphere, it has a certain style, it can make a scene in a movie, and it features in numerous novels, regardless of the fact that you have to imagine it yourself.

When it is applied to signage, it suits cafes and bars down to the ground. But, it can also work for huge brand names. Branding is important in business, and perhaps the most famous neon sign is for a city.

The most famous neon signs in the world

Possibly the most renowned neon sign is that for one of the cities most linked with this special lighting. The welcome to Las Vegas sign is iconic in a way that most marketers can only dream of making their work like.

Tokyo’s Shinjuku City is the stuff of dreams for video gamers, sci-fi fans, and lovers of neon. There is perhaps nowhere that is lit up like Shinjuku.

Piccadilly Circus in London, Times Square, Paris. These all have their links to neon advertising and for good reason. But, Tokyo and Las Vegas have few competitors.

However, neon is disappearing, and a more modern way is emerging.

Can neon be recreated in a modern way?

Neon is a very unique way of creating light, colors, atmosphere, and even advertising. Picture a misty, foggy, dark night. The street is empty, and only yellow street lamps light the way. However, fifty yards ahead, a simple colored neon sign advertises a late-night cafe or bar.

No other type of lighting can match neon for this wonderful effect. But, it has some bad points, and there is another more modern alternative.

LED lighting has been generating news and drawing a following for some time. This type of lighting has some eco-friendly benefits, as you can see below. It is also versatile. It can even be used to simulate neon.

Why replace neon lighting with LEDs?

Modern LED neon lights are made with flexible acrylic and can be made to be waterproof. They can be shaped into any wording or shape, just like traditional neon.

While neon is undoubtedly beautiful. The gas creates a unique way of lighting that cannot be totally recreated in another way. But, it has its drawbacks.

Neon lights are made with glass tubes. They contain components that can be expensive. They can also contain mercury which is highly toxic. Plus, glass breaks easily.

The lifespan for regular neon lights can be as little as 10,000 hours. This sounds very good compared to incandescent or halogen light bulbs, but it doesn’t compare with LEDs.

If you had a business that needed to create some new signage then looking for discount neon signs for sale might lead you towards LED instead of traditional neon.

And your wallet, and the planet, might be better off.

Is modern neon environmentally friendly?

These days people aren’t just interested in what tastes best, what looks best, or even what is in fashion. They want to also know what is good for the planet.

Although it has taken some time, most people now are concerned with the climate, emissions, and the environment.

LED neon has a lot of benefits when it comes to being eco-friendly. The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy LINK says that LED lights are energy efficient. It also says they are more cost-effective and produce less waste than traditional bulbs.

How can you use modern LED neon?

Although modern neon uses LEDs instead of gas, and plastic instead of glass, it can be used in the same way.

The light won’t look the same as the old neon with its flickering and dark spots. It has a constant clean light. However, it can replicate the colors, and be shaped as you might want it.

The acrylic tubing can be shaped to spell words, or twisted to represent logos or shapes. It can be used for marketing and signs just like the old versions could. It can be seen from a good distance, but it won’t shatter like glass can.


Marketing techniques change all the time. Radio, TV, and print all feel as if they belong to some bygone era at times. Cinemas used to advertise local businesses before the main feature and in the interval. Comic books tried to sell kids x-ray specs and beanies.

Nowadays, it is Instagram and influencers who are selling or promoting to the masses. However, the old ways still have their uses. Neon lights are classic. They don’t just brighten up tourist spots such as Las Vegas, they advertise destinations.

Late-night pharmacies, dive bars, and restaurants wouldn’t be the same without neon. Now though, there is a more environmentally friendly way to market with the same effect.