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Well-designed signs are a valuable asset to any business. Signage doesn’t only have informational value: it can also be an effective marketing tool that creates brand awareness and makes a powerful impact on visitors and customers alike.

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If you’re considering investing in new signage as an addition to your business, you’ll want to know the pros and cons of the two main types of signs: static and digital.

Digital Signage vs Static Signage

What’s the difference between static and digital signage?

Static signs are physical, permanent displays designed to convey information limited to static text and still images. Examples include:

  • Shop signs
  • Corporate signs on buildings
  • Wayfinding/directional signage in shops, hospitals etc
  • Bus stop advertising
  • In-store advertising displays
  • Printed posters
  • Traditional billboard display adverts

Static signs can be made from a wide range of materials – from paper to neon.

On the other hand, digital signage relies on LCD screens or electronic displays. Digital signs can include both still and moving text, animations, images, videos, and audio, to mention just a few options. Moreover, and unlike static signage, digital signage can be interactive, letting people use a touch screen to customise their experience and navigate to the information they require.

Examples of Digital Signage Include:

  • Interactive direction boards found in the reception areas of universities and hospitals
  • High street display screens
  • Video displays in-store or in cinemas
  • Tablets used for promotional material at trade shows
  • Automated check in and information displays at hotels and airports

Both static and digital signage have their place in the modern economy, and it is rare for an organisation to use one or the other exclusively. The choice is more to do with finding the right balance for your organisational needs, and those of your staff, customers, and visitors.

Advantages of  Static Signage

  • The starting costs of static signage can be high, depending on what you want, or extremely cheap - think the difference between an illuminated shop sign and a printed poster, but once you’ve paid the production and print costs, that’s it. There’s no additional content you need to produce to use on the signage and few running costs beyond energy expenditure on lighting and maintenance.
  • Static signs are generally easier to maintain than digital. Some static signs require a power source for lighting but there are usually no complicated wiring systems involved, and certainly, no operating system, software, or Internet connection is required. In short, there are fewer things that can go wrong with a static sign compared to a digital display, and anything that does go wrong generally costs less money to fix.

Disadvantages of Static Signage

  • Static signage can be costly in the long term. Once a sign is printed/produced and installed in place, it can't be modified, so any changes you need to make require a new sign. Some signs bypass this difficulty by providing a rotating platform for displays in which you only need to replace the individual posters – although these are being largely superseded on the high street and in-store by digital displays, which are far easier to modify and update.
  • Certain static designs can go out of fashion or become outdated, which means they’ll get limited attention from potential customers. Additionally, if you’re environment-conscious, you’ll probably have issues with sign waste and the chemicals used in printing.

Advantages of Digital Signage

  • Digital displays are extremely attractive and accessible for certain types of signs – especially in-store retail promotions and high-street adverts. Digital signage can also be used to great effect for wayfinding purposes in hospitals, public buildings, offices, shopping centres etc.
  • Digital displays can always be updated with new content, more modern operating systems, and more efficient software to improve the user experience.
  • Digital displays are generally more durable than static signs, retaining their clarity and image quality in all weather conditions and light levels.
  • Digital displays allow you to provide active customer service in certain situations – e.g. wayfinding and retail promotions – supporting your customer service staff and enabling increased brand reach.
  • Customers expect a level of automation and self-service in-store, so investing in some digital signage is a good way of meeting consumer expectations and promoting a positive experience.
  • Digital display equipment is comparatively cheap compared to large and complex static displays and is relatively energy efficient.

Disadvantages of Digital Signage

  • Digital displays can be expensive for short term use, due to the high initial cost involved in purchasing software, displays, and staff installation costs. For short-term promotions, you are better off using static material.
  • Electronic displays can increase your energy use and result in higher operating costs.
  • There can be technical issues if there are power outages or during system maintenance. We recommend a static backup if you choose to use digital displays for wayfinding signage.
  • Digital displays are unsuitable for some applications, including external business signage – digital pub signs anyone?
  • Digital displays require bespoke content to meet your signage requirements, which entails an ongoing cost either in-house or through an agency.

Investing In The Right Signage Solutions For Your Business

Both static and digital signs have pros and cons. However, for most modern businesses, the benefits of digital signage outweigh the disadvantages – as long as the signs are made by a professional signage company and digital display technology is appropriate for what you need the signage for. At Image Technique, we can take care of every stage of the process, from design to installation, for both static and digital displays. So, if you’re considering new signage or display solutions for your business, give us an email today.


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