Reader Boards vs. Outdoor LED Displays

The evolution of signage has reached a point of drastic change. The old style of sign, known as a reader board or marquee, is giving way to programmable digital sign boards that are more convenient, efficient, and attractive. In today’s fast paced life-style, LED displays are becoming dominant especially as technology decreases overall sign manufacturing cost and increases ease of use. A Brief History of Reader Board Signs or Marquees The reader board or marquee sign originated in America in the early 20th century. During that time, cars were growing in prevalence and importance. The fact that many of the people who passed in front of a store or theater were now in cars meant that business owners and marketers needed a new strategy to advertise what was on sale, who was starring in a show, and other messages. Everyone soon realized that the automobile was there to stay and that they needed to make it easier for these potential customers see their messages. Thus the marquee was born . A theater could put the names of shows and movies out on this type sign where it would jut out over the sidewalk and be close to the street. Marquee_Sign-1They were also attractive with their lights drawing a lot of attention. As time went by, businesses knew they had hit a home run with marquees as they were easy to use and could communicate information effectively. Consequently, these signs lost their tight association with theaters as convenience stores, churches, motels and other businesses all over the world began to use them. Early Beginnings of LED signs Outdoor LED display signs are a relatively new innovation in signage. Their closest ancestor is the neon sign (which appeared several decades after the marquee). Neon signs are certainly bright and eye-catching, but the gases inside are generally not safe to handle directly. A neon sign is also difficult and expensive to change and are significantly less versatile than a marquee because they are fixed in design. Outdoor LED video displays are the next step in sign evolution. Inexpensive light emitting diodes (LEDs) have changed all kinds of display technologies in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. It is now possible to modify the display of these signs using a computer or smartphone. Moreover, they can do more than just show letters and numbers; they can display images which creative managers and advertisers can exploit to their advantage. LED displays combine the versatility of marquee signs with the glow of neon. Outdoor electronic signs provide great value for their cost when considering all they can accomplish for a business owner. The Pros and Cons of LED signs vs. Reader Board Signs While reader board signs and marquees have been a prominent part of the signage business for decades, they can no longer match the power of outdoor LED displays. The one advantage that marquees had over the neon signs was that they were relatively easy to change. However, LED displays are now even easier to manage than marquees. With a modern display, it is simple to change the screen’s message using a smartphone, tablet, or computer. This is useful in a variety of situations. For example, if you need to change the sign in bad weather, you can stay indoors and simply use a computer.Changing-Marquee-with-Pole If you want to change it remotely, you can now pull out your smartphone and change the message in seconds. To change a marquee, it is necessary to get up on a ladder and change every single letter or number by hand or pole (a process that usually take a movie theater an hour depending on how many new movies have been released). Furthermore, the hardware for LED display’s prices are competitive or, in some instances, less expensive than marquee signs factoring in the price of labor to change the sign over several years. Ease of Use with an LED Sign Creative use of an outdoor programmable LED sign is quite easy with modern displays. Network cloud technology means that you can use almost anything that can connects to the internet to change a sign’s message. The most modern displays come with mobile apps for updating content hourly, or daily using advanced scheduling. Many stores require updating messages on a frequent basis. For example, the price of gas changes every day. An owner of a gas station with a marquee sign needs to manually change the price maybe multiple times a day to keep them accurate. On the other hand, if they had an LED display, it would be the work of a minute to obtain the latest prices and update them at anytime. If necessary, the owner could set a schedule for content that will run during the week at set times. The Future of Signage While the old style of the marquee sign still holds plenty of charm due to its connection to show business and the early decades of the 20th century, the LED display type has more advantages in terms of convenience and versatility. It might be worth using a marquee to capture a certain old-school feel, but an LED display will be a much more convenient option in all situations hands down. This is particularly true for store owners who want to display prices, sales, images, and video on their signs. In terms of electronic sign cost, these signs are well worth the money. The price for LED outdoor signs has now become affordable and inexpensive enough to make them a great value that will continue to bring in business for years to come. Download the PDF copy of this article