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October 13, 2015

Simple, Effective Messaging with Digital Signage

I began my career producing and editing commercials for small businesses at local TV stations.  Many of those spots all shared one common problem:  too much information presented in an unclear fashion all in too short of a time.  This problem can be true across all mediums, but it is an especially important issue when it comes to digital signage.  Our messages need to be seen and absorbed in environments that are much different than your average living room.  Here are some simple thoughts on how to produce concise, attractive and effective messages on a digital signage network.

First and foremost, it is necessary to make a decision on the intent of your message.  What is the goal?  Are you trying to inform?  Are you encouraging to buy?  Are you asking the viewer to log on?  All other details are purely secondary.  Your main message needs to be unmistakable to your viewer.  If the viewer is asked, “what was the point of what you just saw?”, they need to be able to answer it without any confusion.

Once you know what you’re encouraging the viewer to do, be sure to not clutter up that message with peripheral and unimportant information.  If you’re advertising a sale, don’t bother with minute intricacies about the offer.  Tell them the offer (50% OFF!), tell them when (This Saturday Only!) and leave the other details for the small print.  Or, if you’re encouraging the viewer to contact you, give only the preferred method.  There’s no reason to include your phone number if you’re asking them to connect on Facebook.

Digital signage is a visual medium, so how your message looks is just as important in creating an effective message.  Your screen’s location and proximity to the viewer will go long way in determining just how large you need to make your text.  It’s also important to use contrasting colors in order to keep your message easy to read at any distance.  Use dark text over light backgrounds and vice versa.  It’s important to use animation in order to keep your content looking vibrant, but avoid over-complicating your movement.  What the words say is ultimately more important than how they’re animated onto the screen.  Remember to keep your visuals in-tune to your overall branding guidelines as well, it can only help to reinforce a viewer’s relationship to your business.

Often, it was the owner’s pride in his or her business that prevented me from being able to steer them towards a more concise, effective message.  They wanted every detail to be included and they were unwilling to relinquish any decision-making about their commercial.  It’s important to have a good working relationship between the content producer and the content owner.  Producers need to be thoughtful of their client’s desires and all that they have invested in their business.  Owners need to be willing to allow skilled messaging professionals give valuable insight on how to craft a worthwhile spot.  

With digital signage, we’re not creating documentaries or feature films.  They don’t need to say everything about a business and they don’t need to have dazzling special effects in order to compel the viewer to act.  By keeping our messages simple, our call-to-action clear, and our looks modern and appealing, we can reach our audience and create communications that work.

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Jason Batts, Motion Graphics Designer