2021 continued to be a year of challenges, though our predictions for the signage industry rang pretty true. We may not know what 2022 will hold for our industry; however, here are a few trends we’ve already begun to see that we think will start, or continue, to impact the world of signage next year.

1. QR Codes Are Back…For Now

Close-up of person holding a phone scanning a QR code

As restaurants in particular transitioned from paper menus to digital ones, QR codes were given life anew. This trend appears to be ongoing for now as QR codes continue to be used in more innovative ways and thus will likely continue to be a key component of signage in the future. We will add the caveat that this is a trend that has faded once before, and while smart phone access is on the incline, thus perpetuating QR codes’ usefulness, there may yet again be a backlash in the future.

2. Farewell Fluorescent, Long Live LEDs

Though this might read as if it’s a prediction from 2017 (and in a way that’s because it is), we have perhaps been surprised to see that the death knell of fluorescents has taken nearly 5+ years. Understandably not every business could convert to LEDs at the time; however, with the increased efficiency of LEDs, and the affordable cost of retrofits compared to fluorescent upkeep, we predict 2022 will be the year where we say by and large farewell to fluorescent bulbs.

3. Nostalgia

Press image of Wandavision featuring Wanda and Vision in black and white

If there’s one “hot take” on this list that is already cliche, then truly it’s that nostalgia is having a moment in 2021 and will continue to in 2022. From our pop culture, to our fashion, to our design trends, we can’t get over our fondness for fond memories of yesteryear. How that plays into the world of signage varies, but it’s certainly indicative of neon signage’s continued popularity, the competitive market of faux-LED signs made to look like neon signage, fonts resembling various decades from the past, and color schemes that bring up visceral feelings of our youth.

4. Minimalism Gets Expressive

Agave & Rye business sign in Chattanooga, TN

2021’s trend of minimalism has continued but with increasingly expressive flair. In particular, brands’ use of line-art has allowed them to develop logos that are animated and bubbly, like a retro cartoon, but still have a modern, clean feel. Though this look may feel already too intentionally trendy for some businesses, we expect to see more and more smaller businesses such as bars, restaurants, and food trucks embrace this style.

5. Cloud-Based

SM Infinity cloudware for digital advertising banner

Digital Signage’s popularity has yet to peak, and in fact new life is continually being pumped into this modern signage medium. In particular, many of the software systems that clients use to interface with their sign continue to evolve with the use of cloud-based software. Updating your sign can soon be, and for some already is, as easy as accessing an app on your phone and submitting changes. We are particularly excited about these innovations, as we always want the best user experience for our clients when communicating with their new digital sign.

6. Enhanced Sign Security

Fortunately one doesn’t hear too many horror stories of hacked signs (though it only takes one to be concerned); however, as with any technology this is a reality that one could face. Therefore, one aspect of the digital sign industry in particular that will be key in 2022 is the continued implementation of security systems and measures for electronic signage.

7. Ever-Changing Business Landscape

Neon sign that says "OPEN"

2021 proved that as much as we may have thought we’d return to a pre-pandemic world, that that was not to be, both for better and for worse. As we all continue to deal with supply chain issues, inflation, and the ebbs and flows of Covid waves, we’ve all had to be more dynamic than ever in how we do business. Fortunately we are not seeing the high numbers of business shutdowns we saw early in the pandemic, and with employees still at large working from home, there’s more business real estate up for lease and sale too and there’s increasingly more SBA loans to help new businesses launch. While we do not know precisely how this will change the world of signage and branding in 2022, the end lesson we’d like to highlight is that change itself is here to stay and that as much as we’ve considered when developing our predictions for 2022 we’d be remiss not to point out that change itself is something we predict and believe will be perhaps the most accurate prediction for 2022.