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Design Strategy: The Secret Weapon for Effective Digital Signage

By Jonathan Alger, Managing Partner, C&G Partners

Jonathan Alger, Managing Partner, C&G Partners

Digital signage has revolutionized the way businesses communicate with a range of key audiences. At its best, it can dazzle the eye and engage the mind with important and entertaining content. But to make that happen, businesses are increasingly recognizing the essential role played by good design strategy.

Good design gives companies an edge in effectively communicating with both internal and external audiences that they can’t get any other way. It’s the underutilized tool–the secret weapon—for creating dynamic experiences that successfully speak to viewers.

Visually sophisticated audiences

Mobile and web interface design has raised the bar for all digital communications, and effective digital signage must offer design that competes for attention. A central challenge is to create dynamic digital experiences that speak to visually sophisticated viewers, including executives, VIP visitors and shareholders.

To be effective, companies must have visuals as compelling on a giant media wall as they are on a single elevator screen. Design for these spots has to appeal to different attention spans: easily processed at a glance, but also compelling for more extensive viewing. As key elements of dashboards, alerts need to prominent but balanced, and the call-to-action needs to be simple and powerful.

"Good design gives companies an edge in effectively communicating with both internal and external audiences that they can’t get any other way"

The need for strong motion design

Once upon a time, strong static visuals, like posters, were a key technique. Today, all audiences expect clear, thoughtful motion effects in visual experiences. To address the various design challenges and fight for attention, companies should use techniques like video backgrounds in constant motion, strong branded typography, and rich but brisk animation. Because digital signage can be seen frequently over time, a balance of evergreen and ever-changing content is mandatory. Content should be planned deliberately to change over different realms of time, from daily to annually. The design strategy must fuse aesthetic, content, and technology to appeal to a global culture of innovation and business performance.

Digital signage as a global channel

Companies with multiple offices can use digital signage as the one of the most visible ways that employees stay in touch with what’s going on with their company and coworkers. Functionality and appeal of real-time dashboards on a media wall can establish and reinforce common areas as a central point for knowledge sharing, and take advantage of the flow of the space to enable communications, coordination and commitment among employees.

Digital signage and internal communications

Digital signage, when coupled with strong design, is now also transforming corporate culture by being applied to employee relations. Corporations have found digital signage to be an engaging vehicle to communicate with audience ranging from junior staff to senior executives, effectively advancing high-performance global cultures of innovation and inclusion.

Digital signage elevates the level of sophistication of internal communications (“comms”), and provides companies with a way to show they care about employees. Corporations often invest heavily on stunning lobbies to impress clients and other important visitors, but they can also simultaneously reach employees who come and go multiple times each day at a modest cost. Examples include non-work related lobby content that helps improve employees’ quality of life, such as screens displaying weather forecasts, traffic and transit updates, local news headlines, artistic and aesthetically pleasant content, lifestyle pieces, and more.

Corporations can also successfully integrate digital communications into corporate events and special exhibits to celebrate company achievements, employee diversity groups, innovative new technologies, cybersecurity and other programs. Digital signage is an impressive way to foreground key messages and transforms the company headquarters into a dynamic space of social awareness, cultural reflection, and advocacy.

The influence of strong design in the digital signage landscape is growing, and a focus on aesthetics and user experience can take a brand’s digital communications key performance indicators (KPIs) to a higher level. For example, one of our clients is one of the largest financial firms in the world, and they have implemented hundreds of digital signage content design projects over the past five years to enhance community engagement. Operating in more than dozens of countries with over hundreds of thousands of employees, the financial services firm has an innovative global deployment of digital signage in the form of a series of dynamic, real-time dashboards. These include a uniquely proportioned giant media wall in the main lobby of the company’s global headquarters in the US, but also thousands of smaller media surfaces worldwide.

For that client, we’ve created sleek motion maps that relay live local rail and ferry commuter network status, paired with service change notifications and traffic updates; variations on synchronized clocks; seasonal animation celebrations featuring quintessential localized scenes; and distinctive, customizable countdowns to key sponsored events of the firm…even an award-winning food truck geo-locator.

Better design is better business

Strong communication design can have an important influence in the digital signage landscape, and a focus on modern user experience can take a company’s digital communications to a higher level. To create dynamic digital experiences that speak to sophisticated viewers, good design is an underutilized tool that is ready for service.

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