90’s Shop Signs

There are some brands that will stick in our head no matter how many years pass. Most signs that we see on the high street when we grow up are etched into our minds. I guess that’s why were always so quick to judge large companies who rebrand (of which there have been plenty in the past decade. Cif anyone?) I have noticed many companies rebranding for more natural colours over the past few years, including fast food chains. I have also noticed the colour red disappearing from many different brands, opting for less vibrant colours and instead going for high contrast. There were many brands in the 80’s and 90’s that used wacky or power-shoulder colours, which are no longer needed in today’s postmodern minimalist world.

Here you will see many signs from the 90’s that have either had a complete makeover, or have faded into obscurity and closed. Notice the pattern of hard angles and bold colours, thick angled lettering and double edges. Let me take you on a journey to the past with brands of the UK High Street of days gone by!

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Woolworths – perhaps one of the most missed stores from our British High Streets. The place itself was like a variety show – so many things to look at! Sweets by the bag, CD’s, DVDs, Toys, Clothes – it was like it’s own mini department store. It’s trademark red and white starkly contrasted signage were a staple of most high streets, and it will sorely be missed.

Abbey National – Now called Santander, went through a huge rebrand when it was bought out in November 2009 by a Spanish Group. Their green and red lettering and iconic image of a man holding an umbrella were all over Britain’s high streets. So when they changed names it was a big shock to the passer by.

Toys R Us – I’m sure everyone can remember the jingle to this television/radio advert! I still know all of the words. As a kid, this is how much this brand stuck in my head and has even managed to survive through to my adulthood. The bright colours and bubble like lettering gives it a fun energetic feel, perfectly and playfully aimed at kids. Their rebranding didn’t completely change this logo, and only modernised it slightly.

Wimpy – There was a time where there were many Wimpys all over London, and to an extent they were once a more local and family orientated brand than Burger King. I think what failed them as they simply failed to update their branding from it’s bright orange and red (which has dated terribly), also failing to update their incredibly unhealthy junkfood menu. I remember finding a rare Wimpys in East London last year and the ceiling tiles were peeling off. In the end they just faded out.

Tammy Girl – I can’t think of a sign more early 90’s than Tammy Girl. My goodness, look at those angles, those bright clashing colours, those zig zag elements! I remember going into this cheap store on the weekends to fish out discount bracelets and crop tops. Tammy Girl, part of Etam, has now finished selling in the UK and is doing well in France.

Mcdonalds – I remember a time where there were lots of red and yellow Mcdonalds all over the place. In the 80’s and 90’s they were decidedly marketed for kids until the laws changed in the 2000s to tackle obesity. They have swapped their trademark bright colours for a natural organic palette, including recycled browns, dark greens and beige

Our Price – My first ever cassette tape single was bought in Our Price, and my local one was on Acton High Street. These places were seriously cool to hang out in as a teenager. Everyone was obsessed with the charts, and once the few channels that were available to us had bludgeoned a song into our heads we just had to go out and buy them. Again the colour red seemed to be very prominent with this brand, and so was Virgin Records who bought them out afterwards.

C&A – There was a time when this particular clothes store had a very prominent store on Oxford Street in London. I remember when this closed down 15 years ago, and even then I was pretty shocked. They were a huge retailers and seemed to have the top spot in department stores. Discount stores such as Matalan and Primark seemed to be the most part to blame, and also targeted brands such as Gap and Next. It’s sign was a small badge like icon, which now seems like a by gone relic of the UK high street.