At this year’s Super Bowl, the star that stole the show (at least in our minds) wasn’t a player, a coach, or even a halftime-show performer. It was the sign. Sure, we’re a little biased as a signage and environmental branding company, but we were hardly alone in marveling at SoFi Stadium’s dual-sided videoboard. Dubbed the “8th Wonder of the World,” it spans over 100 yards, weighs over 2 million pounds, and houses 70,000 square feet of LEDs.
At Identiti, the incredible spectacle and the amazing production on display at the Super Bowl sparked a question to leaders across our business: are digital signs worth it?
A debate raged, and in the end the definitive answer as to whether digital signs are worth the investment of time and money?
Yes and no.
In other words, there are pros and cons for a brand to utilize digital signage. In this article, we break down the top arguments that might help leaders of design, facilities, or construction departments at companies across the country decide whether this wow-worthy technology is the right fit for their brand.
Pro 1: Digital Signs Provide an Incredible Return on Experience (ROE)
When executed well, digital signs deliver incredible experiences for customers. And in the past 10 years, they’re much more common—no longer reserved solely for marquee locations like football stadiums or Times Square. Customers are interacting with digital signage assets when ordering from cashier-less kiosks at restaurants, checking traffic conditions when driving along highways, or even (in a slightly macabre example) when typing a loved one’s name into outdoor-ready touchscreen display totem that helps visitors find the locations of headstones at a cemetery.
Con 1: Digital Signs Are a Significant Commitment of Time and Money
This is perhaps no surprise, but it’s important to state. Digital signs require a significant investment of resources. And that investment doesn’t end with the initial purchase and installation. There’s both physical and digital upkeep. As digital signs can house thousands to millions of LED pixels, there will be instances where components will be damaged or will malfunction. Sign-maintenance services need to be calculated into any digital sign budget, as do content services, which are required to produce and deliver the professional and polished graphics customers expect on these technologies. At the SoFi Stadium, a creative team of nearly 100 work to create content for the videoboard.
Pro 2: Digital Signs Can Be a Great Investment for Flagship Retail Stores
Last year one of the many digital signs Identiti installed was for Burlington’s flagship store on the Las Vegas Strip. With the kind of visibility, foot traffic, and peer standards this location commands, a digital sign makes complete business sense. It’s splashy, but with a purpose. Or as ESPN wrote about the SoFi videoboard, “It is excessive yet necessary.” While we would hardly recommend reserving digital signs solely for flagship locations, if your brand is interested in dipping its toes into the waters of digital signage, it could be a good idea to make that first investment at a marquee location.
Con 2: The Quality of Digital Can Vary Greatly Across Manufacturers
In the case of digital signs—like with pickup trucks and bourbon whiskey— it’s important to buy products Made in the USA. While many of the everyday consumer electronics goods we use are manufactured at scale oversees, digital signs require the kind of complex circuitry and advanced QA that domestic manufacturers, like Daktronics, consistently deliver. In this case, our American-made preference is born not of perception but experience. Most of the maintenance projects our teams have handled have been for repairs to digitals signs made in foreign factories, which in cases have not honored warranty obligations and left customers in the lurch.
Pro 3: Digital Signs Are Centralized
A key feature of a digital sign is that its content is changeable. This means that a central production team, housed in a brand’s design or marketing department, has the ability to plan a full calendar of content and test what kind of messages and graphics perform best. This can be agile content—like promotions or limited-time product releases—or more evergreen brand assets that reinforce core value propositions. Digital signs represent a fusion of digital and physical experiences, transforming wherever the customer is into a branding and selling opportunity.
Con 3: Digital Signs Must Adhere to Varied Rules & Regulations Across Locales
This is the flipside to the benefit of digital signs being centrally controlled. Those teams in charge of the creation and display of digital sign content must also understand the many varied and nuanced rules that govern public signage in municipalities across the country. Displays must adhere to a plethora of rules on the amount of changeable information, the speed at which content can change, the amount of flashing or scrolling content, and other statutes on colors, brightness, and other graphical elements.
New technology and the buzzwords surrounding it (see: metaverse) can often captivate the business world. And the case of digital signage, particularly after this year’s spectacle on display at the Super Bowl, is no different. However, it’s important for brands to assess the pros and cons of a digital signage strategy. It’s not a perfect solution for every brand or every use case. But for brands willing to deploy the resources for the production, installation, content creation, zoning adherence, and a premier real-estate footprint to best bolster their investment, digital signage can provide the splash and the wow-factor that leaves lasting impressions with customers.
To learn how Identiti can help you design a signage program that serves your business needs for years to come, click here to see our team at work.
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