We all see hundreds of signs every day, so why do some of them make such an impact and others don’t? Is it purely about size and spectacle? Does the sign have to be very old to enter our collective subconscious?
Let’s take a look at some of the most famous signs in the world and find out what makes them so memorable. Before we get to the end of our list, you might even notice something that all of these examples have in common that could help you with your next sign!
Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas
Even if you’ve never been to Nevada, you’ve almost certainly seen the famous neon sign which marks the southern end of the Vegas strip. (The sign, and most of the strip, are not actually in Las Vegas, but that’s another story.) Built in 1959, the sign has served as a beacon for tourists looking to test their luck and enjoy great entertainment.
The Vegas welcome sign isn’t gigantic or particularly innovative in its construction. It’s a classic two-pole roadside sign, and at 25 feet tall, it’s a good bit shorter than the average telephone pole. However, the iconic imagery of swingin’ 60s Las Vegas has drawn the attention of the entire planet from the moment the sign was installed.
Universal Studios, Orlando
In Orlando, Florida, the Universal Studios theme park promises to transport visitors into their favorite movies for the ultimate thrills. Apparently, they decided that your entrance into that incredible experience should be as big as Hollywood itself.
Guests pass beneath a gigantic archway with a 3D sign at its center saying “Universal Studios Florida.” This highly memorable sign is a two-for-one. In the middle of the entrance courtyard, the Universal logo has been recreated as a fountain. Taken together, these signs provide the perfect backdrop for photo ops and create a significant impression on park guests.
Reno: The Biggest Little City in the World
Much like its Vegas counterpart, you don’t have to visit Reno, Nevada, to be familiar with the iconic Reno arch. Spanning the stretch of Highway 395 that runs through downtown Reno, the famous arch contains over 2,000 LED lights as of its 2018 renovation.
Originally built in 1926, the arch has undergone several changes, renovations, and facelifts over the years. However, the bold design and bright lights are more than enough to keep this sign in our minds for almost a century.
Disney World Entrance
Some theme parks are content to let guests pull into a massive parking lot and hike to the front gates, allowing all excitement to occur inside the park. Walt Disney World is not one of them.
Visitors pass beneath a giant banner emblazoned with Walt Disney’s famous signature and declaring that they have arrived at “the most magical place on Earth.” Mickey and Minnie Mouse stand on each side of the banner, which spans four lanes of traffic. Before they’ve even reached sight of the parking lot, guests are greeted with characters and designs that let them know they’ve arrived at Disney World.
And now for what may be the most famous sign of all time: the Hollywood sign.
Built in 1923 as a billboard for a real estate development, the sign originally said “Hollywoodland” and had no connection to the movie business at all. Unfortunately, the sign fell into disrepair by the late 40s. During its restoration in 1949, it was shortened to the Hollywood sign we know today.
So what makes this sign so iconic? Apart from its large stature (each letter is about 45 feet tall), the Hollywood sign has come to represent the film industry and all of the dreams that go with it. Whether that translates to the desire to be rich and famous or to escape into magical stories, those white letters speak to our imaginations.
What Do They All Have in Common?
You may have noticed that all of these famous signs either come from or are strongly associated with the entertainment industry. So when it comes to finding inspiration for your own signs, you could do a lot worse than to take a few pointers from the people who draw and keep your attention for a living!
National Signs loves designing, fabricating, and installing these kinds of larger-than-life signs, such as the one we made for Gallery Furniture. Now there’s a sign that would be right at home in Vegas!
You can find even more examples of imaginative signs in our gallery. Find some ideas for your next sign!