Ok, So I’m a little weird


November 13, 2008 by esarsea


Sometimes I think I’m just a touch off. I catch myself wondering about things which (I suspect) most people do not. Things that really don’t matter. Things that don’t warrant the time and energy I spend thinking about them. The “Open Sign” is one such example of my seemingly dysfunctional thought processes.

It seems that the more I look around, the more stores I see who have adopted this color scheme and style of open sign. It’s as if it has become the universal standard for some unknown reason. Be it a convenience store, a restaurant, a florist or a barber shop, everyone seems to be using this red and blue neon open sign. On occasion I do see rectangular signs (featuring the obligatory red letters and blue border) but for the most part they are of the modified oval style pictured above.

When did this happen? What significance do the colors have? What marketing research and/or psychological factors contributed to this design? Why is everyone using this sign? Why don’t I know this? Why is no one else asking these questions? 

See, I told you I’m an oddball.

Just today on the way home from work I passed a tavern that had several neon beer signs in the window (in addition to yet another one of these open signs). I actually did a double-take when I saw a Miller Beer sign that featured red block letters and a blue oval surrounding it. It was as if they had fashioned this neon beer sign after the red-and-blue open sign.

That’s all for now. I’d explore this further with you, but right now I need to go make sure all the doors are locked…again.

15 thoughts on “Ok, So I’m a little weird

  1. Bill says:

    Methinks that rather than an orchestrated effort to use a certain sign for its psychological effects, it’s probably more to do with that model being the least expensive offering from sign maker’s catalogues. Probably mass produced in China.

  2. esarsea says:

    Are they as common in Utah as they are here?

  3. Bill says:

    Yes, and damn you! I just drove back from a suppliers office and saw “Open” signs as you describe them all the way there and back. Never gave it any tyhought until you wrote this post! Given the nature of most of the businesses I saw with that sign, sometimes in multiples around the buildings windows, I’ll stick with my assumption that those are simply the least expensive, common denominator “Open” signs.

  4. Stu says:

    It may be, but there are so many variations on the same basic theme when one does a google image search for “Open Sign.” Check out these examples – all different, but all with red letters and a blue oval border. They can’t ALL be the cheapest!

  5. Bill says:

    Check this out. I’m not claiming the Smarty Pants Trophy just yet…


  6. esarsea says:

    Ok, ok. You might not be claiming the trophy just yet, but it seems you have a commanding point lead with time running out. I suspect they’ve already sent it off to the engravers. Congratulations!

    Your victory is not without cost however. The seed has been planted. You will, from this point forward, share my heightened awareness of the damn things…like a bad song you can’t get out of your head :-)

  7. rsr348 says:

    I live in big-time tavern country myself there, donchya know, so I’m sure to be noticin the open signs more often now. I surely don’t have time to be checking out “open sign” websites, but have fun with the competition guys!

  8. rsr348 says:

    Ahh-ha-ha-ha! I just realized the Leinenkugels neon beer sign we have in our northwoodsy basement is….yup….blue and red! We haven’t turned it on in ages, so I wasn’t quite sure of the color, but there ya go…

  9. jan says:

    I notice that the vast majority of the signs have red lettering. From a pure biology standpoint, this makes perfect sense. Red in nature is a warning of hazard or toxicity, therefore we, like all animals, are alert to red. Our attention is drawn to it sooner and more strongly than other colors.

  10. rsr348 says:

    That seems a plausible hypothesis, Jan. And blue is a calm color to have in the background and compliments red nicely. In any case, I’ll be on the lookout for neon signs on my next trip to town. Stu should be thrilled his profound topic has carried on into the weekend!

  11. esarsea says:

    That one’s a bit of a stretch. When I first saw the youtube link I figured it was going to be the Five Man Electrical Band. Wow…I’m showing my age with that comment. Not to mention my surprise that the few brain cells holding that obscure piece of information survived the 70’s and 80’s intact.

  12. Jane says:

    i think the bs blog should have an open sign at the top.
    anyway i do like the one above because it is an open oval

  13. rsr348 says:

    Open Arms…… a high school classic. Was there an open sign in the video? I can’t wait all day for it to download.

    I didn’t think I’d get sucked into this topic, but now I’ll be laughing my ass off every time I see an open sign. Something to brighten the gray winter days, I guess :)

  14. Da Goddess says:

    You know, that “classic” sign is what I look for when I approach just about any establishment. I hate when it’s there just to give the store’s name and not to indicate that the place is actually open.

    As has already been explored, there’s a lot of psychological attachment to certain “signs” and we’ve been conditioned well, haven’t we? I also suspect that Smarty Pants Bill pointed out in his link (I didn’t check — I’m near brain dead at this point) that neon colors are fairly limited.

    Anyhow, not adding anything new to the conversation, mostly just wanted to engage in it a bit.

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November 2008

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