Tag Archives: Environmental Design

Where is the Good Digital Signage “Packaging?”

DART map

Look around you. Design is all around. In the past five minutes, I’ve noticed the poster at the train station, the map on the train, heck, even the train itself. I’m having one of those moments where I think a little bit too deeply about normal things. But, if you think about it, there is so much thought put into how things look. Those things that you and I might take for granted – someone labored away and made choices that resulted in what we see everyday. Now, granted it’s not all good, but that’s for another time. The point is, time, energy, thought, and skill went into packaging these things.

Recently, I was reading through Communication Arts. I love this publication. I see it as a showcase of the best-of-the-best creative work in our industry. This particular edition was the Design Annual, where all sorts of design – print, digital, experiential – from the past year were lauded. One of the categories that they highlight is packaging. Everything from beer to a bag of chips to an iron box.

Monteith's Beer

Safeway Potato Chip Bag

Bajaj Majesty Iron Box

All of these examples elicited an emotion from me. I was curious about all of them and told myself to look for them the next time I was in whatever store might sell them. And maybe, just maybe, if I was so inclined, I would buy them. All just by the way they looked, the way they were packaged. This is what design is supposed to do. Create an emotional response to drive action.

This got me thinking about digital signage and the way that I normally see signs out and about. This is pretty standard fare:

11th Screen | The Interactive Out-of-Home Blog

Sure does seem like these signs could benefit from some good packaging. I’ve often wondered if everyday people were blind to digital signs, particularly because of the noise that they generally broadcast. Signs are all around so unless there’s something extremely compelling and relevant on the screen, how many people actually watch them? Enough to consume the content that brands want them to consume?

What if these signs were packaged a little bit better? Would it make me stop and notice them? Would it elicit the same emotions the iron box does?

I hear so much talk in the digital signage industry about content, content, content. What’s on the screen. True, that is critical. But I’ve never heard anything about how the screen actually looks out in public. How it’s packaged. Seems like that’s a critical component, too.

But who wants to spend money on fabricating this or that so screens can go in them? Especially, an entire network of screens? Well, businesses have been created for just that thanks to the introduction of the iEverythings:

iPad Dockintosh

Book Book iPad Case

Maybe that’s too much to realistically expect out of network providers and/or venues. Seems like a pretty daunting task to me. But in a world where the most preferred screen is in our pockets, packaged to our own likings, why would we want to give attention to anything else, especially when it’s just plopped onto a metal stand or hung on a wall?

Design changes things. Design makes us stop. Design makes us consider. Design makes us feel something.

When’s the last time you were out & about and saw a digital sign and actually felt something?


Photo credits: (beer): mmminimal.com, (chips): theimpulsivebuy’sphotostream, (iron box): commarts.com, (dockintosh): techmoan.wordpress.com, (book case): twelvesouth.com

The “New” OOH, as Seen in my Mind

I appreciate drawings.  I’m a big visual thinker.  And particularly at work, I draw more than write.  I’m not a good artist, but I don’t think it takes a good artist to draw effective models – I like to think I make by pretty good.  Anyway, I’ve been working on distilling my thoughts into something that is easy for people to understand what this space is all about.  Here’s where I am:

Basically, I believe that all OOH solutions are made up of 3 main components:

1. Equipment

2. Place

3. Content

The Equipment really speaks to the “How” the message is delivered.  It has 2 components: hardware and software.  I know there are many other pieces included in those two (network, installation, maintenance, etc..), but in the end, you’ve got hardware and software that need to run the actual solution.  It’s as easy as that.

The Place is the actual location the solution will be seen in – the “where”.  From my standpoint, this is a strict media play – it’s either “Paid” media (you have to buy placement) or “Owned” media (you own the place where the solution will be seen).  Again, I think pretty easy.

But the final component – one that is easy in concept, but hardest to execute in my opinion – is the Content component.  Content is the “what” part of the solution and there are different pieces that make up the “what,” most notably Planning and Strategy.  These two pieces are critical to storytelling because it provides the proper context in which to tell the story.  Not necessarily what story needs to be told, but who exactly you want to tell the story to and how.

And around everything, there is an Execution piece.  There will likely be multiple players in the game that are responsible for executing their component.  This model helps identify what kind of players those are so you can create your own OOH solution.

Where this gets interesting, and I have to thank one of my partners-in-crime here, Matt Dickman, for seeing this – it’s the intersection of these components and what they really define.  The result of “How” + “Where” is “Environmental Design.”  What is this installation going to be in the place where it’s going to be seen?  What opportunities do you have based on where it’s going to be seen?  How much does that dictate what exact equipment is used?

The result of “Where” + “What” is the Consumer “Experience.”  This is how the consumer is actually going to experience the solution.  My experience is different if I’m in the middle of Times Square experiencing a billboard than it is if I’m in the middle of a tradeshow booth experiencing a kiosk.  More, if I know where this story is going to be seen, I can optimize it to create the best “experience.”

And the result of “What” + “How” is the type of “Engagement” that the consumer is (or is not) involved in.  This is where enabling technologies come most into play.  What equipment do I need to absorb (and hopefully, literally, engage with) the story?

These results are the deeper components of the solution that I feel need to be thought about if you really want to maximize your OOH solution.  These are the components that really define what I believe to be the power and potential of the “new” OOH.

So, that’s where I’m at.  What do you think?  Would love to hear opinions!