Lightboxes – Glowing your Brand!

Hmm, lightboxes, old school right?  Well, it is true that they have been around and used for many years.  But, with some forethought and planning they can be used as a powerful marketing tool to help your brand, business or shop stand head and shoulders above the rest.

Many people have used them to promote their company, goods, or services, to great effect.  They are an excellent, inexpensive option for creating a high quality, high impact visual representation of your brand.

What do lightboxes consist of?

The simple yet brilliant (pun intended!) idea behind any type of illuminated sign really boils down to the following:

  1. Build a box
  2. Put a light inside
  3. Put signage in front
  4. Switch on

Result:  The glowing signage gets people’s attention.

Though this is a fairly simplistic way of looking at it, it really is the basis for all modern innovations in the area of backlit sign boards.

A number of different materials go into creating a basic light box.  The various components are as follows:


The most common material to use for the frame of the lightbox is aluminium.  This works well because of it being light in weight and relatively easy to work with.  Depending on the type of application, easy to use snap-together frames can be used to make the framing process even easier.

Bulbs and light fittings:

The light fittings, wires and bulbs are then placed inside the frame and fitted into position.  The most commonly used light sources are fluorescent bulbs.  These are useful because they do not build up a lot of heat and do not use up a lot of energy, while at the same time lasting a long time.

LED lights as an alternative light source, are now growing in popularity and are becoming ever cheaper to use.  They are even more energy efficient than fluorescent lights and have a longer lifespan.  Although costs for LED lights and strips are decreasing, they still cost more than fluorescent bulbs.

Display surface:

A sheet of translucent material made out of perspex or plexiglass is used as the display side.  Glass is sometimes used but it is more prone to cracking and smashing.  The signage, design or printed poster is applied to this surface, and it is fitted onto the front of the lightbox itself.

The electrical wiring is then connected to an electrical source and the light in the box can be turned on.  Illuminating the sign board, enables the signage, which would usually be invisible at night, to become highly visible.  This either draws in more customers or creates a higher number of advertising impressions, or both.

Illuminated Signage – Usage:

Shop Signage:

The most common usage of this form of advertising is as a sign that calls attention to an eating establishment.  During the day such a sign can be switched off and the signage performs the same way that a normal sign board would.  Nighttime though is where the real magic of backlit signs comes in.  Who wouldn’t be drawn to a warm and welcoming sign glowing in the distance?

Some examples of this are firmly entrenched in popular culture.  Think of American movies where after driving through the night the characters pull in to a “Motel” or “Diner” signaled by the glowing “Open 24 hours” wording.  Another example although not strictly using lightboxes, is the streets of Las Vegas.  In fact, Las Vegas is a supreme over-the-top and crazy example of the extremes that illuminated and neon signs can be taken too.

Backlit Poster Lightbox:

Most often seen in the foyer areas of movie theatres, or behind the ticket counter, the movie poster light box is used for displaying posters relating to new releases and up and coming movies.

A full colour movie poster that is printed either single or double sided is then sandwiched in between two plexiglass panels.  The display sheet is then mounted over the fluorescent tubes inside the box.

Interior Shop Display Advertising:

Used most often in places such as fast food shops, airports and point-of-sale displays, illuminated advertising boards can be used to influence buying decisions.

Compared to non-illuminated advertising, it has been found that illuminated signs increase customer interest and sales.

For instance:

  • A nightclub or bar might display a lightbox displaying a new brand of beer or cider behind the counter.  This can influence the type of alcohol purchased or the brand preferred.
  • A coffee shop places an illuminated advertising sign at or near the tills.  This advertises a product that complements the most popular items that customers purchase.  For example they might advertise a muffin or croissant.  This encourages customers to purchase this item as well as their regular product (in this case the coffee).
  • A fast food restaurant might display an illuminated sign board advertising the latest special.
  • A chemist might display a light box in its window display, promoting a particular brand and hopefully turning window shoppers into walk-in shoppers.

All in all, using a light box as a form of either advertising or signage has been shown to improve a brand’s visibility and reach.  They create a higher impact in a customer’s mind and can influence buying decisions.

Yes, illuminated signage displays such as lightboxes, are an old idea.  But with some thought and creative input this ‘old idea’ can be harnessed to produce a highly visual, attention grabbing promoter of your brand.

Contact us for interior or exterior lightboxes or any signage in the Cape Town area.

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