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July 20, 2022

Petrol station pylons – the past, present and future

A pylon sign is typically described as a freestanding outdoor structure that is supported by one or two poles. Due to their simplicity, size and visibility, these signs are used to great effect by companies in a range of different industries.

One of the most well-known examples is the service station sector. Today, almost every metropolitan petrol station across the country has at least one pylon in use. While most of these modern pylons utilise new-age content management systems and vibrant LED backlighting techniques, it’s important to remember that this wasn’t always the case. Let’s look back at the evolution of the petrol station pylons.

Early 1900’s

In the early 1900’s, soon after automobiles became more widely adopted, the first “drive-in filling stations” began to pop up. These hubs were introduced to reduce traffic congestion and provide an easier customer experience. While these early gas stations were functional, they unsurprisingly lacked signage with most utilising nothing more than a basic pylon showing off the station’s brand and a small, ground-level board sign to detail prices.

Late 1970’s

While the quality of the signage did rapidly evolve over the next few decades, it was not until the late 1970’s when what we know as modern solutions, began to come into play. Service stations began to utilise large freestanding structures that detailed fuel prices. These signs, while noticeable, were predictably very basic by today’s standards. Fuel prices were handwritten using chalk, which meant a continuous rotation of gas station employees having to climb up a ladder to erase and re-write information.

Mid 1990’s

By the mid 1990’s the service station model had completely changed, with leading retailers beginning to focus on augmenting their services through the introduction of attached convenience stores. To market these additional offerings, many companies began to add an extra element to their existing pylon signs, usually in the form of a textual message underneath the gas prices. With all this being said, it is important to note that while the mid to late 90’s were characterised as a time of rapid tech adoption, pylon structures could not yet detail dynamic information which meant fuel prices still had to be updated by hand.

Today

Perhaps the biggest changes to petrol station pylons have occurred after the turn of the millennia. Due to a shift in consumer demands over the last 10-15 years, companies have started to focus on value creation and convenience with the ultimate goal being to simplify the customer journey wherever possible. As a result of this, gas station pylons have become more streamlined in their approach – with most now focused on detailing an express benefit to the consumer (e.g. 4c off per litre for using our loyalty card).

Additionally due to further advancements in technology, the process of manually setting prices has become a thing of the past. With dynamic content management systems not only a necessity but a legal requirement; prices can be remotely updated with changes showing up instantly on the pylon’s LED screen.

Future

Looking into the future, research suggests that petrol stations will continue to head down the road of digitalisation. With LED technology continuing to become more accessible and affordable, there is no doubt that digital pylons will soon become the norm for businesses of all shapes and sizes.

If your business is in need of a pylon or if you simply need an upgrade, CV Media & Signage is here to help. Our knowledgeable team has decades of experience in the service station signage industry and would be glad to assist you in improving your business.

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