Digital Signage: Whatever You Want it to Be


Inspiration is an interesting and often times illusive phenomenon. You never quite know when that feeling will come upon you. Writers speak of writer’s block, and it is that thing called inspiration that brings us out of our doldrums. For this article a dose of inspiration hit me as I have been preparing to welcome in the new year.

In a discussion I recently had with a digital signage SME we were talking about the fact that digital signage has become a mainstream communication medium (and it has) far beyond the paradigms of ad-based systems. In mutual agreement on the mainstream issue my friend blurted out “okay so there is this thing called digital signage, assume a company or organization has it, now what?” This begs all sorts of questions that need answering not the least of which are why do we want it, what do we want it to do, how do we use it to our advantage, and how do we calculate the return on the investment? This got me to thinking of where we might advise a “newbie” (and maybe some not so new) to start their individual digital signage journeys and/or projects.

Being a huge fan (and practitioner) of the wisdom/teachings of Simon Sinek I immediately thought of his book “Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action”. I add parenthetically that all (yes all) digital signage contains a call to action in one form or another. In his book Sinek focuses on the why we do what we do (personal or companies) then moves to how we do itand finally what it is we do. He points out that if the why is not there or gets lost along the way, the proverbial house of cards falls apart.

My little inspirational journey took me to an expanded version of word association. This is where someone says a word and you explain what comes to your mind. So here are a few of my ideas under why, how, and what that I associate with digital signage.

  • Aspirational
    • This is the “why” and what the network aspires to be.
  • Objective
    • Stating and meeting the objectives is the work that the digital signage network does.
  • Blank canvas
    • Starting with a clean slate with the aspirations and objectives in focus.
  • Experience
    • Closely associated with aspiration, objectives, and populating the blank canvas to create an experience that is memorable.
  • Artistic
    • Yes, but not for the sake of art alone but in form and function.
  • Situational
    • The situation drives the need for digital signage.
  • Behavior
    • Responding to an effective call to action modifies how we think and act.
  • Memorable
    • Once digital signage is seen how long does the memory of it last.
  • Location
    • Digital signage is not typically a destination but rather applied in an appropriate location and that location may be moving (i.e., mobile)
  • Beyond Technology
    • Digital signage stands alone where the experience drives the technology and not vice versa.
  • Personal (or not)
    • Digital signage is targeted to the viewers and may be one to one or one to many
  • Rules (i.e., best practices)
    • Effective digital signage may bend rules in the search for the “right” experience. 

The bottom line in digital signage is to let your imagination and objectives be your guide. Your homework is to think of your own “word(s)” and their associated meanings and discuss the results. I promise this will expand your thinking beyond what my friend Kim Sarrubi (past chairperson of the DSF) calls thinking outside of the rectangle. Sit back and relax. Get a pizza or comfort food of choice and a cold drink (you select) and let the discussion and fun begin…