They are everywhere you look in an urban area – Backlit displays. They are the signs that are illuminated from behind used as urban panels when you enter the subway, as train signs, as mall and airport graphics or advertisements, as high end displays or in nightclubs as art. Backlit displays permeate American society in a way where they go almost unnoticed unless someone takes the time to really take in all that’s around them. Backlit displays used to go hand in hand with neon lighting in places like Times Square but are now utilized to be subtle, beautiful displays for large brands to use as in store displays and point of purchase collateral.
Backlit displays usually go on top of, what is essentially, a light box. The materials used must be able to handle the strength and heat of the lights used in the light box. Many advertising companies that help other businesses navigate the constraints of advertising with governmental and non-governmental entities often have a strict specifications which must be met to ensure the substrate used for the back lit display will not melt or warp.
Of course, many companies, such as those involved with real estate or retail, do not need to meet the strict specifications set forth by entities such as any given city’s Metro Transit Authority. These companies buy their own light boxes and either have their local printer check the specs on the substrate (how much heat can it be exposed to?) and proceed with installation themselves. It is very important the correct substrate is used as the inks can lift off of the material if it starts to melt and can stain the fixture requiring a tough cleaning, or sometimes, complete replacement of the glass covering the advertising.
Utilizing backlit advertising may seem overwhelming, but taking the extra precautions necessary is worth it. Traditional advertising, such as billboards, requires a front lighting. This kind of lighting often requires may LED lights to be fully legible and not lose any of the artwork to dark, un-lit spots, or alternately, leaves much to be desired, allowing art to lose its vibrancy and appeal as well as making it harder to actually view and understand.
Backlit displays, however, can be viewed in full day light or inside a dark room. They are the little black dress of advertising: perfect for day to night use. Some advertising agencies have taken backlit displays to the extreme fabricating flatbed trucks with double sided, large format, rotating backlit displays. These trucks drive around as travelling advertising getting the attention of passersby whether on foot, bicycle, or in a motorized vehicle. Backlit display possibilities are endless and timeless. Next time you are walking around a downtown area of a metropolitan city, try and count the amount of backlit displays you see within a few square blocks. You’ll be surprised at how vastly backlit displays have permeated advertising and your everyday life. If you see a large format clock on the side of a building which can be read from great distances, that is also a backlit display!