A sign that’s perched atop a skyscraper or hanging outside a restaurant can convey more than the name of the brand it’s advertising. The right sign can capture the character of the buildings and businesses that define its surrounding environment.
Whether they’re inspiring a sense of wonder or nostalgia, we can’t help but feel connected to the signature accents that signs make on cities around the world. Some of these are iconic. Some are technological wonders. Some are just plain clever. For brands, they present tremendous opportunity not only to catch your eye, but also to leave a memorable mark. These five signs from around the world are sterling examples of how the right sign forges an inextricable link with its home city.
Chang Soda’s “Fizzy” Billboard (Bangkok, Thailand)
In 2010, ThaiBev, the largest beverage company in Thailand, decided that merely displaying a giant bottle of its Chang Soda wasn’t enough to distinguish it from other “fizzy” drinks—especially Singha Soda, which has long dominated the Thai beverage market. JEH United, the Bangkok-based creative agency that conceived the billboard, wanted to show the city that there was another soda brand that was also “bubbling” in the market. To emphasize this point, the company created a billboard featuring a giant bottle of Chang Soda on Makkasan Road in central Bangkok. On Friday and Saturday evenings, the company literally showed how “fizzy” Chang Soda is by launching thousands of white balloons from the bottle’s lip for an entire month.
The “Welcome to Las Vegas” Sign at Terminal 3, McCarran International Airport (Las Vegas, United States)
Las Vegas is hardly shy about being flashy. When it unveiled the new Terminal 3 at the McCarran International Airport in 2012, it did so with the aid of celebrity impersonators and performers from Cirque du Soleil. The $2.4 billion terminal included shops, restaurants, and even slot machines that were meant to show international travelers arriving to Las Vegas that “everything people expect once they get to the Strip, now they’ll have that when they get off the airplane,” said Susan Brager, chairwoman of the Clark County Commission, in an interview with the Las Vegas Sun. There is no other feature in Terminal 3 that does this more than its “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign, an homage to the city’s landmarked sign that tells every traveler that they have indeed arrived at the “Entertainment Capital of the World.”
The “New Yorker” Sign at The New Yorker A Wyndham Hotel (New York City, United States)
The bright red “New Yorker” sign is as quintessentially New York as the hotel it adorns. Perched atop The New Yorker A Wyndham Hotel, the sign has survived multiple owners and millions of dollars in renovations. As the hotel is near the massive Hudson Yards development, the “New Yorker” sign will certainly help in grabbing the attention of New Yorkers and tourists looking for a taste of old New York.
Sammy’s Kitchen Ltd.’s Neon Cow Sign (Hong Kong)
The vibrant glow of Hong Kong’s neon signs has long given the area a kinetic and classic feel. But sadly, these signs are becoming a lost art: Hong Kong’s Buildings Department has been removing many of these neon signs for violating city codes, The New York Times reported in 2015. One sign that fell victim to the Buildings Department was the famous neon cow sign outside of Sammy’s Kitchen Ltd. in Hong Kong’s Western District. The neon cow was a suitable mascot for the popular steakhouse and was once a huge hit with diners and tourists alike. The sign has since been sent to M+, a new visual culture museum scheduled to open in Hong Kong’s West Kowloon Cultural District in 2019.
The Crown Lights at the PECO Building (Philadelphia, United States)
Since July 4, 1976, the electronic crown lights on top of the PECO Building in Center City Philadelphia have displayed over 17,500 messages ranging from birthday greetings to breaking news. Thirty years later, in 2009, the building replaced the lights with a new LED system boasting brighter colors, better energy efficiency and more striking visuals.