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Harford County Signs and Banners Blog

Digital Makes a Difference

Friday, November 07, 2014

The use of digital signage at retail or in restaurants is becoming more mainstream. Why? Digital signage not only provides clear, great-looking images that capture people’s attention, it’s also flexible and changeable based on the current business climate. The beauty of digital signage is that it can be customized and message-driven. It takes just a little creativity to see how it can work for various retailers.

For example, a small appliance store may have discontinued models they need to move. Every season, the model line-up changes and the old product needs to be moved out. A digital sign can make a big difference. Whether it’s in the shop window or an outdoor sign, the appliance store owner can create a series of targeted messages that will run on the digital signage. Those messages can be about price, but also about the appliance itself and any promotions. The message can change daily or weekly, depending on how ambitious the shop owner chooses to be.

In restaurants, as well as in retail, weekly specials can be communicated using digital signage. With this technology, not only is it easy to change the sign’s message, it is also expected. People keep an eye on that sign because they know it will communicate up-to-the-minute information. This is a big responsibility for digital signage owners, but used properly, digital signage is a powerful marketing tool. It can also help meet requirements for information dissemination. For example, restaurants are using digital signage to list the nutrition values of foods, in addition to updating meal menus for various day parts. The flexibility and potential of digital signage is a strong reason to “jump on the bandwagon.” Customers appreciate the information, and they will be demanding it from retailers and restaurants as the trend grows.

Digital Signage in Our Back Yard

Friday, September 26, 2014
Baltimore’s Penn Station unveiled a digital signage display last month in an effort to improve the city’s image.  This display builds on the original digital signage installation in 2012 that also hoped to make the arrival into the city more scenic for travelers.  According to reports in The Baltimore Sun, two million people travel through Penn Station every year.  The latest signage display can be seen from the train platform as trains approach the station.  It welcomes visitors with bold, black lettering that spells out “Baltimore” and a giant LED display that will highlight images of city events.
  
Baltimore Penn Station new digital welcome signThe flexibility of digital signage is ideal for this application, and it offers the city a chance to showcase its attractions, as well as provides opportunities for local businesses to communicate to the Baltimore visitors.  We noted that, interestingly enough, this local Baltimore campaign used a company headquartered in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to supply the LED display for the digital signage.   

Indeed, digital signage installation and maintenance requires a highly professional and trained team.  Using the software and keeping the images fresh demands a strategic marketer.  Ensuring bright, crisp images and a 24/7 display is an important consideration.  Look around at banks, offices, sports complexes and restaurants in Baltimore and its suburbs.  Digital signage is everywhere.  Local sign professionals know the complexity as well as the lucrative nature of digital signage, and we’d be missing a huge and growing market segment if we didn’t provide digital signage services.  If you want to make a statement with digital signage, you don’t have to go to Louisiana to get it.  Look right in your back yard.  

Digital Menu Boards Abound

Friday, August 15, 2014

Whether its quick service restaurants, ice cream parlors or convenience stores, digital menu boards have proliferated the menu scene. No longer is a line-by-line, hand-lettered menu the reality in a restaurant. The digital menu board allows for illustrations, advertisements and price specials in living color. The food is shown in appetizing settings, and the selection is showcased. Digital Signage Today reports that Carvel Ice Cream stores added digital menu boards as standard equipment in all new and remodeled locations. Officials say the motion of the boards draws attention to the items the store is promoting.

Digital menu boards are at work both inside restaurants and outside at the drive through locations throughout Harford County. Local restaurants like Chick Filet, McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s use them inside and out. Sonic has several menu boards at each parking space. Frozen yogurt shops and Dairy Queen restaurants also list their treats on this flat screen electronic signage.

The beauty of digital signage in these environments is its flexibility. It’s flexible for the content, pricing and promotions, as well as for the décor of the restaurant. Screens can be mounted horizontally or vertically, hung on the wall or mounted on a stand. They can even be positioned so they look like they are floating on air. Flexible signage is a marketers dream, and digital signage provides it. The crisp, clear video picture, sound if needed, and the ability to change the message with the touch of a button combine to make today’s high-tech signage one for which restaurateurs should be clamoring.

Score One for the Scoreboard

Friday, June 20, 2014

digital scoreboardWhile traveling around to youth baseball, soccer or lacrosse games this summer, note the scoreboards you see. Are they simply tallying the scores or are they relaying messages in various formats? Scoreboards at Little League fields, soccer and lacrosse fields and even at swimming pools pose a great opportunity for the innovative marketer. If you like to promote your business to a captive audience using signage, what better way to get noticed than to be right where people look for information? Get yourself noticed on the scoreboard!

First, let’s talk about existing scoreboards. If the teams or recreation councils that already have them are also savvy marketers, they will have a system in place for potential advertisers or sponsors. These opportunities can be on a static scoreboard or on an electronic scoreboard. Approach the team or the rec council with your ideas for placing your logo or message strategically on the scoreboard. Sometimes the scoreboards are designed with static panels that can display company logos or tag lines. On an electronic scoreboard, the video portion of the board can also serve as an advertising vehicle. If it means revenue for the organization, it’s very likely your proposal will be accepted.

Now, what about becoming a scoreboard sponsor? That is, donating or partnering with the team or field to provide a scoreboard, on which your company logo will reside forever. You would have the ability to provide moving messages if you are donating a digital scoreboard. If it’s static, then negotiate the right to change out the sponsorship signage on or near the board on a regular basis. Talk to your signage professional about all angles – from vinyl sponsorship signs to digital scoreboard hardware and software.

Take advantage of the captive audience to communicate a clear message that will score big for your business.

Bigger Quality Is Better for Digital Signage

Friday, June 06, 2014

Kentucky DerbyThe Kentucky Derby was shown on “the world’s largest 4K ultra-high-definition LED video board,” according to Digital Signage Today. The signage is an approximately 170-foot tall video screen with an active display area of 15,224 square feet. It cost Churchill Downs $12 million. It rivals the Big Hoss digital video board that resides at the Texas Motor Speedway, and the display in “Jerry World” at the Dallas Cowboys’ stadium in Texas.

You probably don’t need something so dramatic or, if we may say, big, for your business signage in Maryland. But, digital signage offers so many advantages for even the smallest display area. The ability to update the signage on demand with real-time messages is a luxury you can’t get from a vinyl banner or monument sign. The quality of the message graphics and video is also an important consideration, especially as you look to bigger signage. In video, a larger picture can often lose image quality as it grows. What looks sharp, clear and bright on the software computer monitor may reproduce grainy, blurry and washed-out on a bigger screen. That’s why the ultra-high-definition LED board is so costly – it’s simply so effective. Those Kentucky Derby horses probably looked like they could run right off the screen. That’s the experience you’re striving for with any size digital signage – you want to make the viewer say, “Wow.”

Your signage professional can recommend the best size display for your needs, as well as the best picture quality. Always invest in the highest quality possible, even if you have to forego a larger size. Bigger isn’t always better – big, bright picture quality will far outweigh a huge video wall with a dull image.

Digital Signage Heats Up Your Message

Monday, February 03, 2014

First Security digital sign2014 promises to be yet another growth year for digital signage. The hardware, software and content companies are banking on it. More and more industries are taking the plunge into this market, both because the prices are getting more reasonable and the ROI is more measurable. We’re seeing digital signage around the Harford County area in banks, restaurants, health clubs, schools and churches. If you’ve got a changing message, or simply want to make a statement, you may want to explore digital signage. The key elements are hardware, software and content. If you don’t have a plan for the content – i.e. how you’re going to communicate through digital signage – then don’t bother investing in the hardware and software.

According to the trade publication, Digital Signage Today, analytics were an important part of evaluating content in 2013, and this process will become even more so in 2014. Advertisers will be able to evaluate who the viewer is, how long they look at a screen and the impact of the content. The publication also predicts we’ll get a better understanding of the significance of a “call to action” in the messaging and how digital signage can be used as a tool for behavior modification. They also see social media becoming more of a factor in content. There’s lots to think about, vs. a simple changing daily menu at the diner.

As far as hardware and software are concerned, the hardware prices are stabilizing, and many displays are now accompanied by built-in media players. Keeping the system simple, at least at first, gives you the freedom to experiment with messaging and upgrade as necessary to a more complicated and feature-rich system. Your signage professional can recommend the best screen size for your site -- whether it’s an LCD, LED or video wall display. The media player package will be tailored to your needs, as well, and it should be something that will be easy for you or your staff to use.

A Sign to Freshen Up

Friday, January 17, 2014

outdoor signJanuary and the beginning of a new year is a good time to re-evaluate your signage needs and freshen up your physical signs. First, ask yourself whether or not you need new signage. If your business outdoor sign is more than five years old, you might want to consider a face lift. Sprucing up the sign with a heavy-duty cleaning that will leave it sparkling, or investing in a new sign are good options. Ask yourself: Does the signage still reflect the personality and brand image of your business? If you’ve had a branding change, any updates in your communications strategies or simply changed your mindset about how you do business, reflect those changes in your signage. Patrons will notice and stop in to see what’s new.

Even if your sign is less than three to five years old, regular maintenance is important. Make sure you are cleaning it properly and keeping it safe from nature’s elements. Consider an awning where possible for protection of the sign. Depending on the material you chose for your sign, wind, rain and snow can still be damaging and fading, making a sign look dirty and worn. Find ways to make your sign updatable. If you haven’t invested in digital signage, think about switching to a colorful LED board that can have up-to-the-minute messages. Or, add a message board to your existing signage – your sign professional can tell you how. These message boards move you into the high-tech era and give you the capability to “talk” to your customers. Once you’ve evaluated your outdoor signs, look at all of your signs – from trade show banners to window signage and point-of-purchase signs. They should all reflect your current brand image, be clean and sleek-looking, not tired and in need of repair. Your sign is really another of your “faces” to your customer. Put on the best one.

Keep Your Eye on the Signs in 2014

Friday, January 03, 2014

digital signThe New Year shows every sign of new trends and increased business in the signage industry. According to a variety of signage experts and industry professionals, growth areas will be corporate lobbies, quick-service restaurants, retail locations and health care locations. Many Harford County businesses already have digital signage or impactful, sturdy signage, but we’ll see more in these locations. Signs will engage the digital consumer, whether on their personal, hand-held device or at a kiosk or big screen display. Digital signage will continue to push forward in all screen sizes, and mobile marketing will become more of a “must” to reach the savvy consumer. That means more than a car vehicle wrap, which does increase visibility significantly. It means marketing to consumers through their smart phones and tablets and giving them opportunities to be interactive and provide feedback.

Digital Signage Today, a leading industry trade publication identified three areas of interest for next year. First was the video wall. This larger-than-life experience is a giant digital sign that is updatable, flexible and impressive for messaging. The walls can be any size, and are built from a number of displays that have the capability of creating a single image or presenting a different image on each screen or group of screens. Their flexibility leads into the next area of predicted growth: touch-enabled displays giving the customer the opportunity for interactivity at the touch of a screen. These can be configured in any size, from a hand-held device to a 4 x 4 kiosk to a large 60-inch display. Interactivity is the key.

Finally, ultra high-definition resolutions will be important in digital signage. As the price of the LCD or LED monitor declines, the quality of images will increase. This is especially notable if big screens and video walls are increasing in usage – picture quality will be much better than on previous devices. Images will be sharp and clear, and the high definition quality will make it “just like being there.”

So for 2014, look for signs of increasing participation in digital signage and mobile signage. Technology will continue to break through the clutter.

Light Up Your Message

Monday, November 11, 2013

digital signIf you want to call attention to your signage message, consider an LED sign. This technology is sweeping the industry for outdoor, indoor and mobile signage. Outdoors, an LED sign can light your message in both daylight and night time hours. Indoors, the sign can be placed in virtually any light environment – from dark to natural light, and the colors will “pop” on the screen. For mobile signage, not only is LED technology an eye-catcher, it is also light weight for easy transport. Overall, LED is a good choice because of its energy efficiency, life span, maintenance and most recently, affordability.

LED signs emit cold heat as opposed to traditional lights that emit warm heat. The coolness enables less energy consumption and a longer life. In fact, LEDs can be used continually for up to 100,000 hours. LED signs help to reduce energy consumption and a company’s carbon footprint. In addition, LEDs create a brighter light, resulting in better readability of signage and brighter, sharper colors. They require little to no maintenance and are weather-resistant when installed properly by a signage professional. The LED sign is more durable than glass neon tubing, and its design makes it slimmer, enabling signs to fit in smaller spaces. LED signs also perform well in cold weather.

One of the biggest benefits of LED signage is the flexibility of messaging. Among the most popular LED sign combinations is a dual sign that has a permanent logo or company name, then an adjoining screen that is changeable with programmed messages. Your sign professional will train you on programming the messages and personalizing your signage.

Generally, your signage professional will work with an LED sign manufacturer and recommend the size and type of LED sign you need. Simply make sure you are comfortable with the navigation, the information and the process by which you change the messaging. There’s nothing like seeing an unedited message lit up for all to see!

Digital Signage Content Management

Monday, June 17, 2013

a bank's digital signDrive around Harford County and observe the number of banks that are utilizing digital signage.   Many of them are – and they were among the early adopters of the medium.  But a recent survey by the Ryan Report, which surveyed retailing and marketing executives at banks worldwide about their satisfaction with digital signage, shows that over half of the respondents said they were only  “moderately satisfied” with the signage.  Most of the dissatisfaction centered around content and content management.

Digital signage is a significant investment.  It can be underutilized or it can be used to the point where it pays for itself in less than two years.  As with any signage investment, a plan needs to be in place.  What is your goal for the signage?  What do you want to communicate?  Do you have enough material to communicate to warrant the investment in dynamic signage?  Your professional sign installer can help you to answer some of these questions.   He or she can create a plan of action based on your objectives.  While the hardware is the primary installation for the sign company, if your professional is truly on your team, he will guide you to the right content management system and encourage you to plan messages months in advance. 

Digital signage is much like outdoor advertising or even on-line advertising, with the convenience of short lead time and client control.   In today’s world of technology and fast-moving messages, businesses need to communicate with customers by using their language and media.   With properly placed, attractive signage hardware plus strategic, refreshed content, you can bank on success in any industry.  


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