What is Digital Signage, and How Can it Benefit Your Comms?
— June 20th, 2023
The growth in visual communications has been unprecedented. In 2023, 84 percent of all digital communications are visual. There’s a good reason for its popularity: visual communications resonate with people. The human brain processes visuals 60,000 faster than written text. In the fast-moving digital world, time is a precious commodity. With people consuming vast amounts of data every day, organizations need to work hard to create content that strikes a chord. That’s where visual communications are making an impact.
There are several familiar channels for visual communications—computer screens, smartphones, tablets, and television screens. In this blog we’re going to look at digital signage and how it is changing the way organizations communicate with their customers and their employees.
What is digital signage?
Digital signage is a large digital screen displaying digital content. The digital content varies and could be anything from static images, web pages, and menus, to points-of-sale, interactive touchscreens, and videos. You can find these screens in a variety of settings including airports, restaurants, hospitals, stores, venues, campuses, and offices.
Let’s look at the role digital signage plays in the world of communications today, its benefits, how it’s being used, and what’s involved with putting digital signage into action.
How to Create a Scalable Digital Signage Solution That Drives ROI
The role of digital signage in modern communication
The growth of visual communication is a natural evolution of communications, given the rise in social media, particularly visual-heavy platforms such as Instagram, and the larger screen sizes on all smartphones. People are seeking out visual content. They can consume and process it quickly and while they’re on the move.
A key player in modern comms
Digital signage slots seamlessly into this environment. It mimics the look and many features of a touchscreen tablet or smartphone, but super-sized. On these large screens organizations can present compelling, engaging content designed to capture attention. Situated correctly, these screens have the capacity to display important information, engage passers-by, reinforce branding, even supplement traditional points-of-sale and speed up customer service.
What are the benefits of digital signage for organizational communications?
As a channel, digital signage fits into the world of bite-sized, convenient content perfectly. It has a high impact and is undeniably flexible. The content can be customized to meet specific requirements, and high-end software makes the job of managing and updating that content straightforward.
On top of that it offers significant benefits to organizations, not least the ability to truly engage with an audience, even a transient one. Here are five key benefits of digital signage.
1. Enhanced engagement
Digital signage throughout a workplace can perform so many different tasks. From wayfinding, company news, and employee achievements to personalized content, training and how-to videos, videos promoting company culture, and KPI screens designed to improve operations. The possibilities of digital signage are only limited by an organization’s creativity. With a mix of different content, aimed at keeping employees up to date, reinforcing values and recognizing achievements, organizations can use digital signage to drive engagement.
2. Employee morale and motivation
With burnout on the rise, motivating employees has become a key pre-occupation of global organizations. Recognizing achievements and celebrating employee and company wins are a simple way to nurture pride and give workers a boost. Digital signage is an ideal vehicle for highlighting the good work employees are doing. With digital screens, organizations can broadcast employees’ achievements to the entire workforce in an impactful way, creating an environment where workers can bask in the positive vibes.
3. Improved information dissemination
Positioned in just the right place, electronic signage is an ideal channel for delivering important and useful information. Real-time updates—such as timetable changes, product information, company announcements—can all be made easily, allowing organizations to deliver information in a timely and efficient way.
4. Visual impact and storytelling
Because of the range of content that can be displayed on digital signage, organizations have a real opportunity to be creative. Using innovative graphics, images, videos, and sound, organizations can tell stories in a unique way. They can even think outside the...er, screen, by merging multiple screens together to create an incredibly impactful video wall to impress vsitors and employees alike.
5. Brand identity
Digital signage is eminently memorable. In fact, its recall rate is as high as 83 percent. That makes digital signage an incredibly useful tool to promote brand recognition. By including their logo and branding elements on every display, organizations can reinforce their brand identity. Incorporating specific brand colors, fonts, and styles across all digital content is a clear way to double down on brand recognition and stay memorable with customers.
What are some digital signage use cases and examples?
Because digital signage is so flexible, it can be used in multiple different environments and perform many different functions. Here’s a look at how digital signage can be used in a variety of different settings.
Digital signage in corporate environments
The sky is the limit for digital signage in a corporate setting. In a boardroom it can be used to reinforce brand identity, great for visiting shareholders, interviewees, and partners. In lobbies it can function as a welcome wall, particularly useful for new recruits on their first day. Digital signage in office spaces can be a great way to display important information and company news, while break rooms are an ideal setting for highlighting achievements and milestones, as well as promoting workplace culture and corporate social responsibility.
Retail and customer-facing spaces
In the age of online shopping, digital signage is a key tool for retailers. With electronic signage, retailers can bring some of that web browsing and information gathering to the store, allowing consumers to interact with the digital signage in much the same way they would with a website. Retailers can also use digital signage to alert consumers to special offers or promotions, or create an endless aisle to showcase products beyond what's in the store. Increasingly, digital signage technology is being used at the point-of-sale, driving additional purchases and allowing the retailers to capture additional advertising revenue.
Healthcare and educational institutions
Healthcare and educational institutions can be large, confusing campuses. Digital signage can play an important role in this environment, providing directions to specific departments or areas. The digital screens can also be used to make important announcements and alert people to any emergency notifications. In the cafeteria, digital signage can speed up service by detailing menus, allowing the staff to make menue updates based on availability.
Internal events and town halls
Digital signage can add an extra layer of dynamism to internal events and town hall meetings. Engaging, compelling content can create a sense of community. Multiple screens around the venue can be used as live social walls, displaying posts from the event. Encourage attendees and employees to upload photos or videos using dedicated event hashtags to maximize engagement. The screens can also be used to showcase sponsor content or to supplement presentations with visuals.
How do organizations implement digital signage successfully?
Digital signage is like any other communications solution in that it requires careful planning and strategy if it is to show results. With proper planning, digital signage can become an effective part of an overall communications strategy. Getting the basics right first is important and will set organizations off on the right path—this will include sourcing the best hardware and software for the solution, identifying the function of the digital screens and the target audience, determining the key performance indicators (KPIs), and crucially, developing a dedicated content strategy.
Let’s go through these elements one-by-one:
Signage technologies and hardware considerations
A digital signage system or network is made up of several components: hardware (the screens or displays), software (media player and a content management system—CMS), and connectivity (to ensure content can be updated and played). Let’s look at each component separately.
- Hardware: digital screens come in different technologies including LED and LCD. Digital signage today will typically come with touchscreen functionality.
- Software: there are a couple of software elements in a digital signage system. First up is the media (or content) player, which allows the content to be displayed; then there’s a CMS, which is usually hosted in the cloud and allows organizations to manage and update the content on their screens; finally, there’s the device management system, which again is typically cloud-based and enables organizations to manage their digital signage network (multiple screens).
- Connectivity: a digital signage system will need to connect to the CMS and to the device management system. It will do this via the internet, using either fixed line, mobile or wireless (WiFi) access technologies.
Content creation and management
The heartbeat of any digital signage system is of course the content. For internal communications, digital signage works best in a multi-channel content strategy. Organizations should determine the type of content they will be displaying on their digital screens—this will depend on a number of factors, like setting, functionality, and location.
Quick content tips:
- For highest impact, be consistent with branding (logos, colors, fonts, style)
- Think about who the audience is and create content that’s relevant to them
- Consider what you want the viewer to do—complete a process, consume information, make a purchase
- Don’t overload the screen with visuals or words as this will confuse
- Personalize content where possible to maximize engagement opportunities
Digital signage case studies and success stories
We’ve worked with some of the world’s biggest brands to develop their digital signage solutions. Here are a couple of real-world examples of our digital signage systems in action.
By consolidating the majority of its digital signage applications under Poppulo’s platform, the University of Calgary's library was able to streamline its digital communications efforts and provide localized, relevant information on each of its screens.
By enabling location-specific content contribution while still maintaining control of global messaging, Ferguson (a wholesale supplier of plumbing) ensures all of its 1,400 locations can update their digital screens with a list of scheduled appointments and special events while also maintaining a consistent customer experience.
Large format digital screen solutions throughout the VOX cinema complex power a huge range of content. From real-time movie scheduling, advertisements and movie trailers to large video walls showcasing Twitter, Facebook and Instagram feeds in order to foster ongoing customer engagement.
For internal communications, and customer communications, digital signage is a compelling solution. The benefits are clear and pretty immediate: the ability to drive employee engagement and morale, reinforce brand identity and recognition, disseminate information across an organization, and the ability to tell a story in an impactful and memorable way.
Digital signage works best as part of a holistic communications strategy. It complements other communications solutions like email newsletters, social media, and a website, offering a highly visual channel to reach a broad and diverse audience.
Its high impact and effectiveness makes it a convincing channel worthy of including in any internal communications strategy.