The story behind the most famous signs in the world

The story behind the most famous signs in the world

If you want to create memorable signage for your business, you can really take note from some of the most famous signs in the world. You’d be surprised to know that no matter the purpose of a sign, it can turn into a pop-culture icon.

Check out the road to fame of these highly popular signs:

London underground

London underground | The story behind the most famous signs in the world
Source: https://unsplash.com/photos/hYgh1C7Y8Iw

We’re sure you’ve seen this one. The iconic London Transport roundel is one of the oldest corporate logos. While we’re not sure exactly how it came to be, we’re going to tell you how it developed to be what we recognize today. The first known design is a product of the imagination of Frank Pick, who was the commercial and PR manager of the London Underground Group of Companies. Originally, he made a design of a red circle crossed in the middle by a dark blue line, on which were scribbled in white paint the stop names. However, Pick’s design was quite limited, since he was not a designer and definitely not a typographer.

It was not until the project of the London underground was picked up by Edward Johnston, who was a renowned calligrapher at the time that the actual proportions and sans-serif lettering was developed. Around 1936, designer Schlegar further advanced the logo by simplifying the lines around the red bullseye circle. In the 70s the Johnston proportions were altered and the logo was named the ‘roundel’. The last major change was around 1984 when Henrion, Ludlow and Schmidt gave the logo a more modernized look by changing the Johnston typeface.

Hollywood sign

Hollywood sign | The story behind the most famous signs in the world
Source: unsplash.com

Funnily enough, the symbol of the entertainment industry was actually meant as an outdoor advertisement for newly built houses in a suburban area. You may be curious to know that the sign was created in 1923 and originally read “Hollywoodland”, as this was the name of the housing area being built. The Hollywood sign is a great example of how advertisements can easily become a huge part of popular culture. Unfortunately, during the 60s the sign suffered numerous hazards, pranks and incidents. However, due to the fact that it became one of the most recognized symbols of Los Angeles, it was given landmark status in 1973 and was officially restored in 1978.

Moulin Rouge

Moulin rouge  | The story behind the most famous signs in the world
Source: https://unsplash.com/photos/DVJq6wuAYUY

Bright, big, shining letters. You can’t help but think of Moulin Rouge when you hear the word iconic. Built during the “Belle Époque” period, Moulin Rouge is truly reflective of the era. It was a time marked by industrial progress and Moulin Rouge successfully blends in with a revolutionary auditorium, on which never-heard-of dances were being choreographed. All this, with a sign to match. We don’t know who was the designer of the sign, but we sure know that he deserves applause. Of course, red, we have to talk about the color. Moulin Rouge has a special red color, it’s lighter than blood, but darker than strawberry, it’s the seductive enchanting red color that undoubtedly stands out. Inspired by the circus, the typeface is extravagant and bold, perfectly in the style of the cabaret.

Penny lane

Penny lane | The story behind the most famous signs in the world
Source: https://pixabay.com/photos/beatles-penny-lane-liverpool-1827323/

It takes the right people to make the most ordinary things famous and the Beatles sure are. Penny Lane was a rockstar street in a day after the release of their song with the same title. Back in the day, Penny Lane was a convenient bus terminus where Paul McCartney and John Lennon would meet to wait for the bus together. Years later, they made a song as to honor their place of birth, namely Liverpool. ‘Penny Lane’ is nostalgic song, which paints a picture of the city and its residents. It was such a hit that now Beatles fans travel to Liverpool for a Instagram photo-op with the sign “Penny Lane”, which is also signed by Paul McCartney. Who would’ve thought that street signs can be so picture-worthy?

Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas

Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas  | The story behind the most famous signs in the world
Source: https://unsplash.com/photos/T6W6ZgfcPy8

Googie style all the way! No, it’s not a typo. Googie architecture style was developed throughout the 50s and 60s in Southern California. It is meant as a tribute to all the technological advances during that period, which explains its futuristic style. It’s all about bold, bright and large elements and the more, the better. Betty Willis, the designer of the Las Vegas sign, was inspired by the style. The sign was requested by Ted Rogich, who saw the bright lighted signs of hotels and bars throughout Las Vegas and wanted a similar sign to represent the whole city. An interesting fact is that the nickname of Nevada, “The Silver State”, originates from this sign, because the welcome letters on the sign are actually put in silver coins. You could also see similar signage designs to the original all over Las Vegas. You know why? The sign is not copyrighted to this day and nobody knows why.

What are some interesting signs you have heard about? What are their stories? Leave us a comment below, we’d love to know more.