LED Signs

by Signs Manufacturing Corporation                                   Made In Texas, for Texans, by Us.™

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A Moving Message*

by Sunburst Displays

How do you get the most results from advertising with a LED Message Center?

How do you attract the most attention possible?

The LED digital electronic message center offers a whole new way of advertising, a way to change your message to potential customers based on the day of the week, time of the day, the weather, even whether or not the Cowboys won.

Define your goal:

  • Do you want people to walk into your store?

  • Remember you for later?

  • Call you?

  • Email you?

  • Read your website?

  • Come to an event?

  • Or are you trying to promote a product?

  • Do you want neighbors to think of you as involved in the community?

Develop a strategy to meet that goal.  Don't try to accomplish too much at once.

If you display a single message, or the same group of messages repeatedly, you are not reaching the potential this medium has to promote your business.

If you display red lettered messages, when you have a palate of 4+ billion shades and colors to use to attract attention you are short-changing yourself.

Also, use bright colors!  Use colors that can light brilliantly.  There is no such thing as a “bright” gray or black, and very few bright blue, purple, or green shades.

Add a border around text so that it doesn't blend in with the background.

Moving colors attract attention.

If your messages are constantly different the people who view your store the most often, people who live and  work in the area and are potentially your core customers, will look at your sign and business as an entertaining landmark.

Have a differing set of messages, ones that change morning, afternoon and evening.  You can optionally have different messages on opposite sides of the sign; “Have a Good Day” and “Welcome Home” at the same time.

Think about what your customers want at differing times of the day, week, or weather and offer it to them.

Keep messages as short and direct as possible.  Most people reading your sign are in vehicles and must absorb your message quickly.  Long or confusing messages have proven to not be effective in attracting customers.  Keep it simple and easy to assimilate at one glance.  Scrolling messages do not work.

Show prices to bring in customers.

Show pictures of products.

Advertise specials.

Display special events.

Display news and updates.

Use fast transition animations (you're not trying to show them the animation, you want to show the message).

If the message is written too small to be read easily from the distance it is viewed it will not be effective.

If you have a portable display, think of all the creative places you can advertise your business: parades, picnic, local sporting events, high school football games, church, school, meetings, garage sales, chamber of commerce meetings.  Loaning your sign to worthy causes, because of your graphics on the trailer, gains you very positive attention without the need to display messages on the actual message center.

Viewing Distances

The minimum viewing distance is the point at which the display loses its graininess.  This can vary depending on the message being displayed.

The maximum viewing distance is the point at which the smallest character which will be generated on the display becomes unreadable.  A potential solution is to generate larger characters, but this may increase the minimum viewing distance.

Desired Minimum Character Size

Reading Time

The length of time letters are readable when moving towards them.

These times are only achievable when viewing signs made with LEDs with wide viewing angles.

Many signs reading times are much shorter for the same sized letter.



30 MPH

40 MPH

60 MPH

80 MPH


1.4 Seconds

1 Second

  0.7 Seconds

0.5 Seconds







1.8 Seconds

1.4 Seconds

  0.9 Seconds

0.7 Seconds







   3 Seconds

   2 Seconds

 1.5 Seconds

 1 Second







   4 Seconds

   3 Seconds

    2 Seconds

1.5 Seconds







5.5 Seconds

   4 Seconds

2.75 Seconds

   2 Seconds







   8 Seconds

   6 Seconds

     4 Seconds

   3 Seconds

Prepared by Sunburst LED Signs™

Brightness vs. Legibility

LED signs attract attention with colors in motion.  The best LED signs are not designed for “brightness,” they are designed for “legibility.”

In fact, the best LED signs have internal controllers that prevent a sign from being too bright.

The brighter an LED light is, the more power is being fed to it, the more electricity is consumed, and the shorter the lifetime of the sign.  A LED sign should not light a parking lot; it is designed to legibly present a lifelike image in lights.

To do this, shades and colors are created by controlling the brightness of each differently-colored LED separately.  All of the LEDs are never required to be at full power at the same time (except in factory set-up mode.)  Also, there is no “black” LED.  Black is created by turning all of the LEDs “off.”  Therefore a sign displaying an image with lighter colors, reds and yellows as opposed to blues and purples, has more light output.  Consider this when you program your sign.

The best signs, during the day, only power their LEDs at about 80% power at “maximum”, and at night they are really turned down so their glow doesn’t obscure the message.  The worst signs are full-power 24/7, and are generally illegible at night.

A properly-controlled sign is readable from a much further distance than an overly-bright sign, except during the middle of the day.

Remember that larger signs dispense more light than smaller signs.  Resolution matters also.  More lights are on.

Therefore, the light output “brightness” of a LED sign is a subjective perception affected by how many LEDs of what colors are lighted at any given time, and by the viewing distance.  Sign size, resolution, display type (Balanced Array™ or pixel cluster, etc.) and visual message determines a signs effective light output, and varies moment-by-moment.

Incidentally, a “nit”, a term often used by the Chinese manufacturers, is an older term describing a luminance factor.  It basically refers to “…the illumination of a 1 square meter surface by the light of one candle shining on it.”  It pertains to TVs and cell phone screens, not signs with exposed LED lighting.  It has no ANSI or International System of Units (SI) fixed method of determination, such as from how far away it is measured, so it has no scientific meaning, or comparative value.  It has become a marketing term.

If brightness is desired to attract attention, add a full-power LED external border to the sign that uses Pinlight™ LEDs designed for focused brightness, much like an LED flashlight.  LED borders are relatively inexpensive, and much less costly to repair/service/replace.  They also attract more customers than an illegible sign does.

* Excerpted with permission from the book "How to Effectively Advertise With Your Digital LED Video Display" by Sunburst LED Signs™.

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