Mastering the New Visual Language of Digital Signage

By Doug Braun

Retail communication has a new visual language that’s being driven by the experiences your customers have when they watch movies, TV and even commercials that use animation, effects and editing made possible by a computer. These visuals tell a story and deliver information in ways that weren’t possible even a few years ago.

If yours is one of the hundreds of banks that have incorporated digital signage as part its retail strategy, the media consumption of your customers has created expectations that will determine their willingness to engage with the information on your screens.

It’s unrealistic to expect your customers to respond to screen content that’s simply a recreation of the paper posters you’ve replaced. Instead of using your digital display like a poster, think of it as a portal to relevant and helpful information presented dynamically to attract, engage and entertain customers using the techniques and tools of today’s visual language.

Accomplishing this is not as hard as you might think. Just like the movies, which used to employ teams of craftsmen and technicians, but now rely on a handful of artists with computers to make their magic, a member of your marketing staff with a good eye and the right software can make your products, promotions and brand come alive. The challenge lies in finding the software package that’s best aligned with your staff, their skill set and the time available to create your content.

It may be that your digital signage vendor will suggest a software package. While most system providers include a content management solution with their products, it’s less typical for them to offer design and creation capabilities. Evaluate any recommendation carefully. You may find yourself with professional-grade design software that’s either not suited for full-motion, video applications or is too complex and time-consuming to learn and work with.

The goal should be to find a design package that’s user-friendly and accessible to the competent nonprofessional while offering all the tools you need to create robust, dynamic digital signage content. To help you evaluate your options, we’re suggesting some of the questions you’ll want to ask:

Tools: How creative will the software enable you to be? Can you integrate video, audio, graphics, text and other elements? What editing capabilities are available? Do you have access to effects and transitions that can make your messages more cinematic? Can you incorporate external content like RSS or social media feeds? Can you automate updating of frequently changing information?

Expandability: Will the software allow you to start simple and become more sophisticated as your mastery of it increases. What are the provisions for adding the newest tools and utilities? Do you acquire them automatically or is there additional cost involved?

Support: Whatever option you choose, support is essential, and it’s important to consider how you’re trained and how much support is available to you. Is it ongoing or are you left to your own devices?

Getting the most out of the investment you’ve made in digital signage depends as much on the way you present your message as the message itself, and having command of today’s new visual language can mean a more exciting and interactive branch environment, more engaged and energized customers and, ultimately, a more productive and profitable retail operation.


Dough Braun is senior vice president of inLighten, a provider of digital signage, interactive kiosks and Web-based content management systems. The company is based in Clarence, N.Y.

Online training in digital, mobile and social media from ABA.