New York City—just as the world has always connected Fifth Avenue with the fashion industry and knows Broadway as the birthplace of show business and entertainment, Madison Avenue is considered as the cornerstone of American advertising. Located near the Grand Central Station and drawing an elite crowd from the Upper East side, Mad Av was also less crowded than the downtown district, making it a convenient place for multiple ad agencies, banking on the postwar consumerism of the 1950s.
Beyond pop culture’s not-so-subtle and brilliant depiction of its advertising heyday, you’ll probably think of more than a hundred or so colorful digital ads and signs of the biggest, most popular brands, littering the streets, and visible at almost every turn and corner, when you hear or read about Madison Avenue today. Do all of them get noticed?
People in the city that never sleeps are obviously busy, are always in a hurry and probably have a shorter attention span than your average person, so if you’re planning to have a digital signage put up, well worthy of Mad Av, you’ll have to start with these elements:
1. Hardware: This involves all the required computer parts and equipment, sign players, including your mounting systems, display panels and peripherals making up the core of what would count as a digital signage network.
2. Software: Digital sign software gives managers and business owners, digital designers, content creators and tech professionals the power to remotely take care of an unlimited number of display screens from one network. It’s also the software that’s responsible for creating content, timing, feeds, and placement of the elements in a digital sign.
3. Connectivity: This is your mode of communication for addressing a particular digital network or display which you can go through a regular Ethernet cable, an access to the world wide web, a working wireless network or through a mobile phone provider.
4. Content: The substance of any sign is the message that is being relayed to an intended audience. In the case of digital display signage, it’s all about what is showing on the screen.
5. Operations: You need to be ready for installation and manage and maintain your business’ digital signage network or unit. The question is, who is going to take care of the system installation? Are you paying a provider, or can it be done by a tech expert who is part of your staff? How do you plan on covering maintenance if network or outages occur? You also need to assign people who will control screens and a control room while you’re at it.
6. Design: This area of the signage network is all about the sign’s purpose. What will the signage’s environment be like? If it’s for your own business, what size do you plan in putting it up? Are you going to have it mounted or will it work by kiosk? How many do you need for it to serve its purpose? These are the questions you need to address when you finalize your design.
Designing a digital signage and creating its content is a fun, creative process that lets you play around with different design elements such as color, contrast, text and visual hierarchy. However, you must not forget that the end goal is to send a message and share an information. Follow these steps in designing an effective signage:
1. Take advantage of user-friendly tools: We’re lucky to have been born and get to live in a time where easy and great tools for design are accessible, giving chance to even the most novice of content designers and creators to give a graphic design a fair shot. Many of these tools are now cloud-based and available to access anywhere, giving you a chance to share your designs with local collaborators.
2. Incorporate branding anywhere: When people who pass by see the digital signage of your business, they immediately notice the content so you would naturally want them to know who is behind its creation. If your content is well-designed enough to get attention in a matter of seconds, why not use it as a marketing tool as much as you can? You’ll be able to incorporate branding when you include the business logo, brand’s colors and any other elements that serve as your part of your brand identity.
3. Think of your audience: The content of a digital signage is generally easy to edit and customize as needed or wanted. You can do this by developing content that recognizes your audience. If your digital signage is primarily for internal communications, design the content that acknowledges everybody’s contribution to the success of the business, and goes beyond the call of service, or create it in a way that allows you to celebrate milestones.
The basic principle in design is after all function before form, which means it’s equally important to have a good understanding of the rules in making sure your signage is as readable as it is visually appealing. Here are some tips to help you create a digital signage that both informs and attracts an audience:
Digital signs normally make use of technologies such as, LED, LCD, projected images and plasma displays and are usually controlled by servers or personal computers which could be designed as any of the following:
A digital signage can be designed and put up or installed according to the size and type of screens or technology it uses:
If you’re not sure as to how much text to use on your screen, apply the 3 x 5 rule. As the name suggests, you have to keep it at three lines of text with five words maximum each line or vice versa. This way, your message would be sufficient, clear and easy to read by an audience within a short span of time.
Standard TV screens usually work at an HD full resolution (1920 x 1080) which makes it easier to design content since you can set the content to the same number of pixels so you’ll end up with a full screen. If the screen you’re using has a different resolution, you’ll have to think of how you can adjust your content to fit it. Screen types such as LED, or content that spans across multiple screens in a design such as a video wall, will all need content that is created to fit.
Since 1920s, Madison Avenue gave rise to America’s larger-than-life advertising industry with equally larger-than-life businessmen and later on women, behind its success. However, the notoriety of print ad campaigns of past decades moved on from the tolerated no-holds-barred gender-biased imagery to being more emotionally-driven, with a message-oriented culture for content and design in the digital signs we see today.