You may not know the term “channel letter” but you see them all over. When you stop for your morning coffee, you probably see the name of the famous coffee chain in big, white, back-lit, block letters on the building over the entrance to the store. Those letters are an example of Channel Letters. These letters, which may also be an example of an architectural sign, are designed to be easy to read, be lit up, be seen both from a distance and up close, and are made from long-lasting durable materials.
Channel letters all start the same way: with an aluminum can. These “cans” are hollow and are shaped specifically to match practically any font you want to use. When the individual letters are made, they resemble oversized cookie cutters ready to be used by the Jolly Green Giant. After the letters are prepared, the sign can be made to be lit or displayed in different ways.
Push-Thru Channel Letters
Not all channel letters, such as the coffee shop example alluded to above, have a backing to them. The letters are or appear to be individually mounted to the building or wall allowing the letter to blend into the environment. Push-Thru Channel Letters, on the other hand, have a backing that is part of the overall design. The name of the design alludes to the idea that it looks as if the letters are being pushed through the backing panel giving the entire sign a very unique look which is great for branding. Push-Thru Channel Letters are a common way many corporations bring their logos to life in three dimensions.
Standard Channel Letters
Back to the coffee shop. These are your standard channel letters. The front of the letter is covered with a plastic or acrylic face that can be made in any number of colors to match your logo. Lights mounted in each letter illuminate the signs so they can be seen at night and from a distance.
Halo Lit Letters
Halo-lit channel letters, also called reverse-lit letters don’t have the same color face that standard letters have. Instead, the light and colors are designed to come out of the back or sides to give each of the letters a halo effect. These letters must be mounted at least an inch from the wall to give the light somewhere to go to produce the desired lighting effect.
Exposed Channel Letters
If you want to give your letters a little bit of extra pop, consider using exposed channel letters. These letters start off like standard letters, except they do not have an opaque color. They may be covered to protect the letters from the elements and birds nesting, but the clear covering exposes the lights in the letters, which are part of the design. They could be individual bulbs or they could be colored neon lights. Regardless, the channel letters show your font while the exposed lighting gives the letter style and personality. A famous example of exposed channel letters is the letters of the famous Winter Garden Theatre in Manhattan. The channel letters are filled with individual bulbs in large letters on the front of the marquee and smaller letters on the top of each of the sides of the marquee.
Channel letters are a great way to brand your business. Letters can be made in a wide variety of fonts and colors, and there are many lighting options available to make your signs really stand out and brand your business. When considering a sign for your business, channel letters are a great way to go.