Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Digital Signage Need To Know: Full Color LED Signs vs Single Color Red or Amber

-Scott Hofheins

Full color LED sign,or single color (monochrome) sign? Decisions, decisions; what is the better investment? This is an important question presented to many potential LED sign buyers that will have long term consequences. Traditionally, single color signs are less expensive and you can get a larger physical size for the same amount. Unfortunately this is where the benefits end, and the reality of the current trends in LED signage begin.

Look just above the following pictures, not directly at them:

Which one draws your attention more? For most people, it will be the color graphic. Human instinct tends to focus on the most prominent object in a given area, perhaps an ancient survival tool used long ago. The public is going to make the decision to look at your sign, based heavily on their peripheral vision.
Which advertisement looks more appetizing? Its a proven fact that colors communicate specific messages to the human subconscious. Fast food companies like McDonald's and Wendy’s have been capitalizing on this for decades.
Which message communicates love and peace more effectively? Its not just corporations that can use colors to maximize the effect of their message. Supporting graphics, and colorful text add much more meaning to the LED sign content.

Separate Yourself

In a world of static signs and manual copy boards, single color LED signs create quite an impression. However, in a world of higher resolution full color LED signs, single color signs just don’t stand out like they used to. The public is much more picky about where to divert their attention.

This is not to say that single color signs are completely out of the game, far from it. They still have some very effective applications that focus on pure data delivery and where viewers are somewhat captive. Locations like factory floors, outdoor way-finding areas, stock tickers, loading bays and security checkpoints are all great examples. However, when it comes to demanding the attention of the public, full color signs are the way to go.

You want to separate yourself from the others. Drivers have plenty to look at, why choose you? By using a color sign, and rich content, you give them the push they need to see your messages. It’s not just text anymore, they are seeing close up shots of great food, great products, or important religious symbols. Simple text advertisements are replaced with a fully branded call to action, colorful and exciting.


The cost gap between full color and single color is continuing to close. New technologies, manufacturing techniques, and the proliferation of LED signs across the globe have been extremely helpful in making these signs affordable to churches, schools, small businesses and municipal organizations everywhere.

This means that the extra investment in a full color unit is much more valuable (in most cases) than the money you would save on a single color.  If you intend to advertise anything on the sign including products, your organization, or offsite ads, you're going to want to lean toward a full color unit, especially if you are in a high visibility location.

An LED sign is a long term investment, and it’s worth a little more upfront cash to ensure a maximum return on the investment over the lifetime of the sign. I recommend you really look at the reasons you need an LED sign. Are you trying to draw attention to your location? Are you advertising products, people, events or righteous path? Is your sign have access to a large number of potential patrons or advertising partners? If the answer is yes to any of these, seriously consider a full color unit.


I hope this post has been informative and helpful. As usual, I welcome ALL constructive comments. Please feel free to comment and add anything I’ve missed, or additional tips you may have regarding this topic. Please visit for many other resources, white papers, and of course: Great looking LED Signs!

**All posts/thoughts/writings are strictly the viewpoint of me and me alone and do not reflect nor speak for Vantage LED’s beliefs, attitudes, thoughts, etc. unless specifically stated.


Anonymous said...

Great comments....Do you think the emergence of LCD over LED is sustainable and appropriate for outdoor use?

Deacon Wardlow said...

LCD systems have become more robust, easier to control, and brighter (the brightness and outdoor setting were the primary hurdles). LCD is primarily focused for pedestrian traffic and going large scale can be prohibitively expensive (a 5'x10' LED display will be brighter, easier to manager, use less power, and be more visible from multiple angles than a 5'x10' LCD "wall" used in a similar fashion).

LED and LCD are marketing tools. You don't use a chainsaw when cutting out a diagram on paper, you use a razor blade (exacto or other brand). The same goes for marketing. LED is primarily (first and foremost) signage in it's primary form (on a pole, monumet sign, wall-mounted, etc.) and while there are some high definition, large scale systems... this is LED's primary niche. LCD (with the advent of better bezels, improved system control, lower power requirements, and high resolution displays) is primarily a pedestrian traffic aligned system. Each crosses over into the other's territory, but only in small ways.

I think LCD will replace some of the larger format pedestrian displays, but not vehicular traffic-based displays. There are other technologies coming along (like Quantum Dots and such) which are beginning to see play in the commercial markets. People may want to watch out for the stuff on the sidelines and not on the field...

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