Steindler Signs & Graphix unpacks the lure of channel letters

Steindler Signs & Graphix unpacks the lure of channel letters
By: Kayla Belec Last Updated: May 5, 2020

Close your eyes and think of the first four restaurants you want to visit once the pandemic restrictions begin to lift. Chances are, you pictured each restaurant’s signature signage (in addition to your favorite meal). For instance, I’m craving fried pickles and a beer from Burgerhaus, and I almost instantly thought of the restaurant’s logo, with the little illustration of a burger in that lower-case ‘b.’ 

When it comes to branding and building a successful business, one of the most important elements is creating a recognizable, one-of-a-kind logo brandishing the business’ name. Placing that logo on exteriors like storefronts, strip malls, large buildings or above individual stores in malls increases visibility and brand recognition. These three dimensional signs or letters are called channel letters, and Steindler Signs & Graphix produces letters and logos of just about any shape and size.

“Channel letters make it virtually impossible for your store to go unnoticed,” said Tom Steindler, Jr., owner and CEO of Steindler Signs & Graphix. “Especially when they are lit up with LED bulbs, channel letter signs can be seen from far distances – including at night.”

Channel letters are often fabricated from aluminum, acrylic, and LED or neon lighting. Since they’re intended to offer a greater scale of visibility, the letters are often 12’’ or taller. Lighting from within allows for nighttime visibility. 

Steindler said channel letters can either be front lit (where the colorful acrylic facings are lit up), back lit (where the light escapes through both the colorful acrylic facings and through the open backs of the letters) or halo lit (where the fronts of the letters are closed with aluminum but the backs are left open to create a special glow).

When it comes to illuminating a new sign, there are two options that are popular in the market: neon, the traditional and time-proven option, or LED, which has a higher upfront cost but consumes less energy and is more reliable in the long run.

“While individual LED modules might burn out, they do not require immediate replacement whereas neon failures must be replaced immediately,” Steindler said.

So most channel letters also save on energy.

“LED lights are extremely energy-efficient. Not only will you be increasing the visibility of your storefront sign by investing in channel letters, but you’ll be investing a lot less money in your energy bills by doing so,” Steindler said. “Conventionally lit signs are known for consuming a lot of energy, thus generating high electricity bills for the business owners who use them.”

Multiple advancements in technology have kept Steindler Signs & Graphix on the cutting edge of the industry. The biggest asset to Steindler’s customers and the industry in general are LEDs.

“Improvements in technology have brought down the price of LEDs, and now the majority of today’s signs are made using LEDs. LEDs are low maintenance and use 1/20th of the electricity of neon,” Steindler said.

LEDs are low voltage (12 volt) as opposed to high voltage neon (120 volt), which means that LED installations are less invasive, preserving a building’s aesthetics and integrity.

“Because neon is a little more bulky than LED lights, neon signs tend to be a little wider and taller than their LED counterparts. That usually is not an issue for most business owners hanging signs in their windows or on their walls. The biggest difference is depth,” Steindler said. “An LED sign can be as little as one inch thick, whereas a neon sign must be at least 3-5 inches deep because the glass tubing must extend away from its backing.”

Durability is another asset of channel letters, especially when they’re fabricated at Steindler Signs & Graphix.

“At Steindler Signs & Graphix, we manufacture the body of each channel letter from lightweight but sturdy aluminum. The material is rust-proof and not susceptible to insect damage,” Steindler said. “Aluminum is an incredibly reliable material that also withstands harsh weather conditions. It has even been known to survive fires!”

Steindler Signs’ channel letters are cut to precision in-house using a combination of design programs, a large industrial router, and an Accu-Bend, a machine otherwise known a channel letter bender. The letters are professionally fabricated, then customized with any combination of premium vinyl or digital prints to reproduce each company’s brand. The letters are then illuminated with those bright, cost-effective LED lights to ensure optimal visibility at night.

Steindler Signs can also fabricate brand new signage, or rehab or retrofit existing channel letters by replacing neon lights with LEDs.

"At Steindler Signs we have converted hundreds of channels throughout the region, including Taco Bells, Sprint stores, McColly Real Estate locations, and many more,” Steindler said.

Whether channel letters are installed inside or outside, Steindler Signs attests that there are few better ways to grant a professional look that will transcend into a tool for growth.

“It’s as simple as this: your store simply looks more professional and prestigious when it has a channel letter sign above its front doors,” Steindler said. “Some small businesses opt for banners or flat-surface paint jobs to display the names of their stores. The message those businesses are sending is, ‘we’re small time. We’re not looking to invest that much into our brand imaging.’ The results those businesses are getting: a declining customer base. They’re not really impressing anyone enough to grow their companies.” 

In addition to Burgerhaus and its iconic burger-b, Steindler Signs has also installed channel letters for such iconic and original brands as Firehouse Subs, Anytime Fitness, Le Peep Restaurant, Sprint Wireless, Tan-FX, Century 21 Executive Realty, Kohl’s, WiseWay, Target, Best Buy, and many more. Steindler Signs even created the channel letters on the Valparaiso Fire Station, the Porter Regional Hospital Emergency Department, and for a Budweiser logo at PNC Park in Pittsburgh. 

To break it down, channel letters are the a valuable investment for these four reasons:

  1. They heighten visibility
  2. They save on energy
  3. They boost your brand’s image
  4. They provide long lasting service

Next time you pass a restaurant and the mere sight of its logo causes your stomach to rumble, you’ll know that those channel letters were worth the investment. And there’s a good chance Steindler Signs helped them get there. 

For more information on all the services offered through Steindler Signs & Graphix, visit https://www.steindlersigns.com/.