In recent years, neon has become a popular interior feature across the bar industry. While simple red neon signs were originally used in dive bars through the eighties, they have since resurfaced as stylish pieces of décor which can completely transform a space.
Neon signs have many practical benefits as they are hard to miss, even in dimly lit bars. They can be used to direct customers around the venue, promote offers, and signal when the establishment is open.
However, the striking appearance of neon is what’s leading the trend. The versatility of it can complement numerous design themes such as Hollywood Regency, industrial and minimalist.
In a recent survey conducted by NeonPlus, almost a fifth of respondents said seeing a neon sign in a bar would give them the impression that it’s a trendy and modern venue.
But how important is a bar’s aesthetic and can it affect an establishment’s success?
Can lighting help create an ambience?
Neon is often associated with parties and can help create a celebratory atmosphere and energise customers. In the survey, 21.6% of people said a neon sign would tell them the bar is fun.
Graeme added: “The aesthetic of a bar tells the customers the type of night they can expect, whether that be a boozy night filled with plenty of laughs and dancing or a sophisticated evening with cocktails and catch-ups with friends.”
Although 26% of respondents thought neon signs would make a bar seem garish, this can work to a venue’s advantage. Bold and gimmicky décor is being used more to help establishments stand out from the crowd.
Hetty Wheeler, architectural designer at architecture and interior design firm, Shh, said: “Neon signs can be found in the most vibrant cities such as London, New York, Tokyo and Las Vegas. Inserting this type of light into bars and clubs can often emulate stimulating and lively environments and create a dynamic contrast against low-lit interiors.”
Convenience Store is a bar in Manchester which emulates a corner shop. It uses neon signs, graffiti art and tongue-in-cheek posters to create a cool and lively venue.
“A more relaxed atmosphere can equally be created by reducing that vivid contrast with softer tones of neon light over pale surfaces to produce calm and comfortable interiors,” Hetty added.
A cocktail bar with velvet furniture, pastel colours and marble countertops can create a glamorous and luxe setting. This can be enhanced with a blush pink neon sign.
Some bar owners may be concerned about the practicality of neon signs. However, LED lighting, known as faux-neon, is a more durable alternative to neon. Due to being made with plastic tubing instead of glass, it’s easier and quicker to produce. It’s also far cheaper to run than traditional neon.
The business benefits of attention-grabbing interiors
Social media is now a vital marketing tool and is considered the new word of mouth. A photogenic venue with eye-catching décor, such as neon signs, encourages customers to take photos and post them on Instagram. This can generate free advertisement and entice more people to the bar, especially if the social media user tags the establishment.
Recent research found that more than half of the global population on Instagram are aged 34 years or younger. In the Neon Plus survey, 20.7% of people believed displaying neon in a bar would attract a younger crowd.
A neon sign can also enhance existing branding by mirroring the business’s signature typography and colours. Consistent marketing can make the brand memorable to ensure customers return.
Graeme Hoole, head of product development at Neon Plus said: “Signage can embody the brand’s values and beliefs. For example, if the company is passionate about feminist issues, this can be mirrored with fun neon signs saying ‘girl power’ or ‘support your local girl gang’.”
Dazzling interiors can lure more customers to a bar, help create a certain vibe and ensure the venue is memorable. A bespoke neon sign allows businesses to get involved with this trend, while making it completely unique to showcase the brand’s personality.