Dee Sign


Dee Sign’s backlit LED displays attract positive attention

for both the company and its customers.

By Jim Harris

Last year, Braden Huenefeld went to Europe for what he expected to be a trip focused on visiting family. Very quickly during the trip, however, he began to see signs that the excursion would take on an additional significance – literally. Everywhere he went, he saw backlit displays in the windows of real estate offices.

“Obviously, when you are traveling in a beautiful place like France, the last thing that is on your mind is looking for products to market. That gives you an indication of just how eye catching these displays are – they caught my eye from a distance, and I had to pull over to see what they were,” he says. “Immediately I knew that this would be something the brick and mortar brokerages back home would want. After looking at these for 30 seconds, it became apparent to me that it would be hard to argue against the benefit of backlit marketing displays, especially since the panel images can be changed in seconds to generate an entire new look for your storefront.”Dee Sign Fact Box

Huenefeld is the president of Dee Sign – a third-generation family business that is the largest manufacturer of real estate signs in the United States. He looked into the backlit LED signs and learned they were made by VitrineMedia, a Paris-based manufacturer that had offered them for nine years but did not have distribution in North America. During a stopover to meet with VitrineMedia, Huenefeld reached a deal that made his company the official distributor of the panels. 

It wasn’t long after Huenefeld returned to the United States for his company’s newest offering to find a wide customer base. The West Chester, Ohio-based company reached out to its more than 100,000 customers nationwide through social media, direct marketing and trade shows. In addition to its customer base in the real estate industry, Dee Sign also marketed to potential customers in retail, hospitality and banking.

“Our initial roll-out coincided with the National Association of Realtors show in San Diego last year. We have been selling traditional real estate signs for almost 50 years, and have created several new innovations for realtors, but this was something new. I was confident they would be popular, but I was not expecting the reaction they created – we had a constant flow of Realtors waiting for a demonstration for each of the four days of the show,” Huenefeld says. “They were an overwhelming success. I’ve never seen people gravitate towards a product this way. Since that day, we have attended dozens of shows and what we have found is, the audience is bigger than real estate, with retail and other industries having an equal enthusiasm for the marketing panels.”

Dee Sign’s display at a trade show in February caught the attention of Kevin Levant, CEO of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Metro Brokers in Atlanta. “I took a lot of pictures, shared with my marketing department and incorporated the [panels] into our new space planning,” he says. “We were doing a very large office space remodel and were looking for a different and versatile way to message our staff and agents.”

Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Metro Brokers uses the LED panels as an information center and directional message center in its main office. In addition, the displays are used to showcase the company’s top producers. The company plans to eventually use them to market its properties to the public, Levant notes.

‘An Engaging Experience’

The thin, 10-millimeter profile of the LED panels makes them an aesthetically attractive alternative to the larger, thicker light boxes real estate offices and others used for displays. “The panels have a very sleek, contemporary-looking finish that goes nicely with our office décor and is not obstructive or gaudy in any way,” says John Wdowiak, field marketing manager of Coldwell Banker Real Estate Services. The company started using the panels in the lobby of its corporate office in Pittsburgh to showcase properties after Coldwell Banker’s president saw them at a Dee Sign booth during a trade show.

Instead of clashing with the office’s design, the panels have generated positive feedback and interest from customers and Coldwell Banker staff. “The signs are visible to anyone who comes through here,” Wdowiak says. “Our agents, in particular, have inquired about how they can have their listings featured in the display.”

The panels have drawn similar interest from the customers of Flight Centre Travel Group Canada, which has used a backlit LED display in the window of its flagship location in Toronto since February. Flight Centre Travel Group sought out the panels from Dee Sign after using a similar product in its offices in Australia, Director of Travel Centres and Facilities Punam Pathak says.

“We regularly see people standing outside of our windows looking at the images [in the displays],” she says. “We used to have static window boards; this is a far more engaging experience for our customers.”

The displays, which Flight Centre Travel Group uses to showcase vacation destinations, attract interest any time of the day. “The panels transition well from day to night – they showcase our products really well during the day, but at night they really pop the image,” Pathak says.

Flight Centre Travel Group is incorporating the panels – which Pathak says are easy to install and change images on – into the design of new 2,000-square-foot locations in Ontario.

Building a Presence

The high visibility of the panels regardless of the time of day also appeals to Dino Rossi, owner of New England Preferred Properties Real Estate. Like Huenefeld, Rossi first noticed the panels while on vacation abroad, and purchased them from Dee Sign to replace an acrylic window display at its main office in Newton, Mass.

“I would highly recommend this product – it looks very professional and has certainly attracted more attention to my office and our advertised listings,” he says. “These displays are another tool to help keep our presence known.”

The displays’ ability to help customers boost their visibility is a main reason why Dee Sign is confident the LED displays will be a main driver of its business for years to come. “There’s a prevailing philosophy in today’s world, whether in retail or other industries, that people prefer to buy things online, which has placed pressure on brick-and-mortar stores to compete,” Huenefeld says. “These signs can help those stores by drawing even greater awareness to their location.”


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