Monthly Archives: May 2013


15 Surprising Facts About the Las Vegas Sign

You know that what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas (unless the paparazzi is watching). And you know that you’ve made it to Vegas when you see the iconic sign. But do you know these surprising facts about the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign?

1) The sign might say, “Las Vegas,” but it isn’t actually inside the city limits.

It’s located at 5100 Las Vegas Boulevard South, which is in the neighboring town of Paradise. In fact, much of the old Vegas strip is technically located in Paradise. So all that time you thought you were in Vegas… you weren’t.

2) The sign is smaller than most Vegas signs.

It stands only 25 feet tall. Compared to the famous Vegas Vic sign, which stands 40 feet tall, it’s a dwarf.

3) The sign was placed in 1959.

Thanks to Hollywood, you probably think of the sign when you think of the gangsters that founded Vegas. But the sign wasn’t actually put into place until 13 years after Bugsy Siegel opened The Flamingo. And while the gangsters of early Vegas certainly were adept at marketing, the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Sign wasn’t their idea.

4) The sign was commissioned by a salesman.

Ted Rogich, a World War II vet, moved to Nevada and started a small neon sign company called Western Neon Co. He admired the neon signs of the city, but he noticed that, while there were tons of signs advertising the local casinos, hotels and restaurants, there wasn’t a sign advertising the city itself.

5) The sign is designed in the Googie architecture style.

Think you’ve never heard of “Googie?” Well, you’ve certainly seen it. This style of design was popular during the 40s and 50s. Remember The Jetsons? Their combination of futurism, the atomic age and space travel was a great example of Googie. When the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign was created, Googie was a typical design style used on motels, restaurants and diners.

6) The designer of the sign was female.

This was a big deal in 1959. Betty Willis, who had attended art school in Los Angeles, was working in Vegas as a commercial artist before she began designing neon signs. In an interview, Betty once said, “Most people are surprised when they find out a woman designed the sign. It was a man’s business back then. It wasn’t a woman’s field because when you work with neon signs, you have to not only design them, but you have to learn the nuts and bolts of how neon, light and electricity work. You have to learn about pressure points and weight and wattage of lamps. You work with engineers as well as artists. Most women back then weren’t interested in such technical stuff.”

7) The sign was a bargain.

At only $4,000, the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Sign was a bargain. In comparison, the roadside sign for the Stardust Hotel and Casino was replaced in 1967 for $500,000.

8) There’s $7 on the sign.

Across the top of the sign are 7 white circles, each with a letter from the word “Welcome.” Those circles are actually designed to portray silver dollars, since Nevada is the “Silver State.”

9) The sign was never copyrighted.

Betty gave the design of the sign to the city of Las Vegas as a gift. As such, she never copyrighted her design. So now you can buy a Vegas keychain, Vegas magnet, Vegas bumper sticker, all with the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign and Betty doesn’t get a dime. Considering how many tourists go through the city every year and how many souvenirs they buy, Betty’s gift turned out to be worth a fortune.

10) People once risked their lives to have a photo with the sign.

Tourists stood in the middle of the road in order to get their photo with the legendary sign. The city eventually decided that the possibility of dead or injured tourists was bad for business, so in 2008, it installed a parking lot by the sign. Now it’s much easier to get a photo… you just have to wait your turn.

11) The sign is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Because… it’s historic. It was nominated and approved in 2009.

12) Brandon Flowers wrote a song about the sign.

The Killers lead singer wrote an album in 2010 called, “Flamingo” (referring to the iconic hotel that started Vegas). On the album is a track called, “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas,” which refers to the sign.

13) The original is one of three.

While driving around Vegas, you might feel like you keep seeing the sign. In different places. No, you haven’t had too much to drink (well, maybe you have… but that’s not why you keep seeing the sign). The city installed a replica on Las Vegas Boulevard in 2002, just inside the city limits. And in 2007 another replica was installed on the Boulder Highway.

14) You can buy a piece of the sign.

When the lights on the sign are replaced, they’re sold as commemorative souvenirs. The proceeds are donated to charity.

15) The sign is going green.

You might want to get your commemorative light bulb while you can. Earlier this year, the Consumer Electronics Association made a $50,000 donation to Green Chips. That organization will use its donation to make the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign solar.

What Coca-Cola Teaches Us About Branding

Coca-Cola is undoubtedly one of the most recognized brands on the planet.  In fact surveys show that 94% of the world’s population recognizes the red-and-white logo.   Every day across the world, more than one billion bottles of Coke are sold.   Why the everlasting popularity? While sound business practices and global reach certainly have an impact, Coca-Cola has one HUGE advantage its competition does not have…logo longevity.  Let us explain.
The First Coca-Cola Logo
The first glass of Coke was sold in 1886, after pharmacist Atlanta Pemberton mixed up a concoction and added soda water to it. The first logo was created when Pemberton’s accountant, Frank Robinson named the product and wrote it out in Spencerian script. Here is what it looked like.

Pepsi’s Logo
Pepsi was created just a few short years after the first glass of Coke was served. Its original logo was very similar to the Coca-Cola logo. In 1898, this is what Pepsi’s logo looked like.  Hummmm….pretty similar, no?


But Pepsi didn’t stop there. Beginning in the 1950’s Pepsi started changing and developing its logo, sometimes changing it drastically. Meanwhile, Coca-Cola’s logo remained the same.


The Pepsi logo incorporated a third color, blue. It still maintained the same script (aka font), but added the bottle cap image.



Then, Pepsi ditches the script altogether and the word “cola” and changes to a completely different block style text.



The bottle cap logo is changed, but the colors stay the same. This logo remains unchanged for around 16 years.



A dramatic change in Pepsi’s logo.



The current Pepsi logo is now very different from the original Pepsi logo of the 19th century.


“So What?” you say.  “What’s the big deal?  I like the new logo.  It looks modern and fresh”.

Ok so let’s compare.  Pepsi is above and the current Coca-Cola logo is below.  Still pretty much the same.


So why is this important? And what does this mean in terms of marketing?  Well here is the answer.

Coke vs. Pepsi: It’s In Your Brain (not your taste buds!)

In blind taste tests, people consistently prefer Pepsi over Coke. Yet when both beverages are labeled, Coke wins every time. Researchers have coined this phenomenon the “Pepsi Paradox,” and for a long time could only guess that Coca-Cola’s marketing was responsible for the mental preference.

In 2004, Read Montague, a researcher at Baylor College of Medicine, did an interesting study that revealed just how ingrained the Coca-Cola brand has become in the minds of the millions of people who prefer it.

Montague performed MRI scans on volunteers while they drank both Pepsi and Coke. When people drank samples of each, without being told which was which, they preferred Pepsi. The MRI scans showed that the Pepsi caused greater activity in the ventral putamen, the part of the brain that registers pleasure.

But once the volunteers were told which beverage they were tasting, they immediately switched their answers and stated that they preferred Coke. During that taste test, the medial prefrontal cortex of the brain lit up on the MRI. That part of the brain is associated with memories and self-identification. The higher-functioning prefrontal cortex actually over-rode the more visceral part of the brain that acknowledges pleasure—branding beat out actual taste.

Logo Longevity Leads to Brand Domination

So if people actually prefer the taste of Pepsi over that of Coke, why do our brains change our minds once we know we’re drinking Coke? Because we associate Coca-Cola with strong memories and identify the brand in positive ways.

Coca-Cola’s marketing has always been about creating feel-good memories. The old-fashioned Christmas advertisements with the vintage Santa Clauses, the “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke” commercials, the more recent adorable baby polar bears… all are designed to evoke warm, fuzzy feelings about the brand.

Since the basic Coca-Cola logo hasn’t really changed since its inception, consumers can take all of the feel-good advertising and associate it with one image.

When considering Pepsi, that isn’t the case, since the basic logo has changed so drastically over the years. So every time Pepsi releases a new feel-good campaign, consumers must connect it to a different image.

Bottom line: create a great logo and stick to it.  Create plenty of positive associations with your brand and you too can dominate your market.