The digital signage industry is booming, and there is a reason.
Companies and brands that install digital signage in their locations are actually seeing nearly one-third more in sales.
In our last installment in our series about digital deployment in physical spaces, we addressed the importance of a strategic approach to enhancing experiences. We addressed why brands should look at this method for maximizing content across multiple locations, streamlining marketing messages, and adding a local, customized feel to in-person experiences. But how do successful brands leverage digital in their spaces and does digital deployment really make a difference?
According to Sign Stix, “Digital signage creates an immersive in-store experience, maximizing cross-sells, upsells and impulse buys by quickly adapting and deploying content in real time.” In fact, companies that implement digital signage into their store environments report an increase in sales volume by nearly 32 percent. Other companies and brands are catching on too, because the digital signage industry is forecasting to exceed $20 billion by 2020.
While the increase in sales is impressive, using digital tools like signage in physical locations requires a commitment to engagement and deployment of technology in a smart, strategic way. Today it’s quite common to hear brands talk about their desire to create tech hubs in their brick and mortar locations, but this technology needs to have purpose in the space, one that connects customers or patrons to the brand, not just a gee-whiz element. As Gina Bleedorn, Executive Director at Adrenaline, says, “Technology is only ‘smart’ if it’s designed, integrated and deployed in an intelligent way.”
How to Get Smart
The diversity available in the digital category requires that brands must define the type of digital experience from the get-go. Chris Howe, Design Strategist at Adrenaline, explains what’s important to understand from the beginning, “Digital is a broad category, and we generally see two types of digital experiences being incorporated into the physical environment with Interactive and Messaging Experiences. Because the interaction is fundamentally different between these two categories, we separate the conversations at the beginning of any project.” Once we understand the division, we begin our work in three areas—Environmental Design, Interactive Design, and Branded Content – and employ our Retail Experience Design (R.E.D.) strategy to organize the process.
According to Saray Gill, Senior Experience Designer at Adrenaline, “We look at the most opportune time to speak to customers to figure out which design elements should support each type of communication. What is said, and in what channel, makes all the difference.” The messages we develop are then used to identify and build the personality in Environmental Design. The personality is then utilized to create Exterior Brand Experience, including exterior signage, window clings, drive-up signage, and door displays. Then the Interior Brand Experience, the aesthetic is kept consistent through interactive tablets, community messaging, a technology bar, logo wall, and wall displays – all with connected campaign messages.
The process Adrenaline uses called “Experience Mapping” defines the journey for Interactive Design and Branded Content. The process is organized by analyzing the function, purpose and flow of each space within the environment. In our mapping process, we use the following components: Attract, Welcome, Learn, Transact, Consult, and Staff Needs. These components are centered around how customers interact with people and information within these spaces along the Experience Mapping path. Each location on the map features interactive design and branded content customized for each function.
Saray Gill, Senior Experience Designer at Adrenaline, says, “We intentionally consider how customers will navigate, dwell, and interact in each space. This deliberate consideration effectively influences our design decisions. We ask ourselves a lot of questions from the customer’s perspective, such as ‘What will spark my interest?’ and ‘Will I be viewing material that can help me be more informed about products that benefit me?’ The design of the space gets refined, but the target is always the customer. We always make our way back to them.”
As the team works to develop how and where to use interactive design and branded content within the mapped components, functions within the space are broken into Primary, Secondary, and Virtual. Within each stop along our Experience Map, we consider the Scale & Impact, Interactivity, Point of Experience, Content, and Function, which drive our design decisions. The following example maps out our strategic process and our organizational structure to ensure that physical spaces function properly and engage and enlighten customers as they make their way through the space, creating a natural flow with rich, interactive content elements along the way.
In this specific client model, Boulevard displays are Primary touch points with more generalized content and targeted to anyone. This type of touch point is for Attract function within the mapping process. A Boulevard display would be high impact, larger scale, more public, and less personal, serving an awareness function. The content for Boulevard displays would include evergreen messages and more permanent components of branding that almost become a part of the architecture. Think of large branding at street level, like the oversized M&M’s stacked on a corner in Time Square.
Whereas Third Party Showcase displays are Secondary touch points with more focused messaging, this touch point serves the Learn function within the mapping process. A Third Party Showcase display would be lower impact than Boulevard and smaller scale, but more balanced between a public and personal ratio in interactivity, compared to Boulevard. This type of location serves awareness and educational functions. The content for Third Party Showcase displays would include lifestyle and community content for a more captive audience. Think of local events advertised in hotel lobbies as examples of Third Party Showcases.
The two stops along the Experience Map we outlined were to give you a sense of the process we go through with each and every display within a physical space. Though this is a highly detailed process, when strategists use a structured form and function approach to developing a physical space, the customer enters an environment that just seems to make sense and feel right. By looking at a physical space through an experiential lens, brands create a space for customer experience that enhances connection, engagement and loyalty.
In the next digital signage article, we’ll take a deeper dive into how these spaces function and give examples of brands that are making a real connection.