Lessons from Some of the Most Iconic Signs

We live in a world of signs and marketing. Some are funny, some are clever, others are simply informative and interesting. While there are literally hundred of thousands of signs, some have standed the test of time to become iconic. So which signs do we feel have really demonstrated staying power in the minds of people? And why do they work so well?

London Underground. This sign is utterly classic. A red circle with a blue horizontal rectangle and white lettering.

The London underground, also known as the tube, opened in 1863, and in the early 20th century, the first underground signs first appeared. It had a black horizontal rectangle instead of blue when first created in 1919, and went through several transformations until most of the additional text was stripped away leaving the sign more or less the same since the 1950s.

Why does it work? The distinct colouring is definitely a contributing factor. Even without the white lettering, many people will recognize this sign. That the sign itself is helpful also gives it a leg up on most marketing signs. Simply put, the underground sign is useful to be able to recognize. Between that and the fact it stands out against the city background thanks to it’s colouring, people that use the tube have taught themselves to look for and pay attention to this sign.

Hollywood. Huge, lit, white letters standing up against a barren hillside.

The hollywood sign was original risen in 1923 as marketing for Hollywoodland – a housing development in the area. The sign was originally meant to stand for only a year and half, however, it is now over nine decades old.

Why does it work? Especially for it’s time – and even today – the hollywood sign is bold. After all, it’s massive: the original letters were 30 feet long and 43 feet tall. The sign featured 2000 light bulbs each 8 inches apart. The sign is three-dimensional and stands tall on the hillside rather than your average flap billboard that waits by the highway. It also has colour working for it. Though it’s colours aren’t nearly as vivid and contrasting as the London Underground, the white words stand out their grassy backdrop and are easy to spot from far away thanks to their size.

There are many other notable signs and logos of course. The gold arcs of McDonalds, and everyday symbols like those used by WHMIS are some of the best known signs and logos. It’s because these images are designed to stand out and have meaning. Sometimes it’s taught meaning like the dangers of chemicals and sometimes the meaning is a sum of our experiences. The fun we had playing in the McDonald’s ball pen and with our toy on the car ride home. It is your job to create that sort of experience and meaning and your signs job to remind people of how they felt. Need help creating a logo or sign that will help you to stand out in the ocean of competition? Contact Wraptor Signs and Graphics today.