Digital Display Decision

Digital Display Decision

Marketing results say it’s a no-brainer.

I walked into a local Dunkin’ Donuts that I had been to dozens of times before and noticed the traditional backlit menu boards had been replaced with bright, digital displays. Beside the lists of items and prices were animations of hot coffee being poured, colorful, swirling frozen drinks and close ups of an assortment of fresh doughnuts. I came in wanting just a medium coffee with cream and sugar, but seeing the tantalizing doughnut flyover persuaded me to order half a dozen. It’s obvious the long-term marketing impact of digital signage far outweighs the initial costs.

Digital menu displays are nothing new. Major players like Burger King, McDonald’s and others have been using digital signage for over 15 years. New low cost display systems like the $200 Mvix Ceeno are so affordable that small restaurant owners have begun implementing them. And the technology has simplified so that new display systems can be operated with a tablet or smartphone. This opens up a vast array of new marketing opportunities for smaller companies.

Applebee's Presto Menu System Digital kiosks that allow customers to place and pay for their orders are becoming more commonplace. I was recently in Applebee’s and the waitress set a tablet-sized, touch screen device on our table and briefly went over some of its features like, “Order additional menu items and drinks” and “Ask for service and pay for your order.” It made me wonder, “Does this mean I should tip her less?”

The trend towards digital displays will begin to create a pricing paradigm shift. On a static sign we’re used to seeing the price of a #1 combo at McDonalds for $4.99. Now because digital menus can be changed in an instant, prices will reflect rises in costs of basics like beef, lettuce and cheese. That same combo can tick upwards to $5.25. You may be standing in line one day as you watch menu prices change before you get to the register – or kiosk. We’re used to daily price changes at the grocery store. Soon, daily or even hourly price changes may be the norm at your favorite restaurant thanks to the flexibility of digital signage.

The first true all-LED flat panel television screen was developed, demonstrated and documented by James P. Mitchell way back in 1977. It was black and white and only ¼” thick and it probably cost tens of thousands of dollars to develop. But now, with 60” LED tvs being sold for $700 at Walmart, display technology has become increasingly accessible for all applications. It makes me wonder, will sign companies have to transition to digital to survive? Will large format printers be replaced by large format tv suppliers? Will the art of sign design erode into what can fit in a digital rectangle? In the 2002 movie Minority Report starring Tom Cruise, the billboard advertising spoke to the characters directly and asked them about their recent purchases. We’re not there yet, but with the personalized approach of digital displays and kiosks, I think we’re not far off.

5 Best Practices for Digital Signage:

  1. Keep it Simple – Each screen should only contain one focused message. 3 or 4 word phrases work best. Animations should be short.
  2. Repetition – Repeat your key message at the beginning and end of a segment.
  3. Call to Action – Tell your audience exactly what you want them to do.
  4. Design Matters – Use high contrast visuals and a clean, uncluttered layout. Stick to your brand with the use of corporate colors and fonts.
  5. Know the Specs – Make sure your file formats are correct. Check the readability of your sign, it may differ from your computer to the display.

Contact us at Foodesign Associates to discuss your digital design project.