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Digital vs print signage: Weighing up the pros and cons

All businesses with a physical presence need signage of some kind. Even those businesses which operate entirely in the e-commerce space may want physical signage to help promote their offer, a marketing campaign, or their stand at an event.

But what sort of signage should you choose? With the market now greatly expanded to include digital signage options, is the role of physical print signage now redundant? What are the pros and cons of each? Do both have a role in any modern business marketing strategy? Let’s take a closer look.

Think of print signage and retail signs, billboards, vinyl signs and pop-ups spring to mind. This type of signage is robust, unchanging and offers great value. Businesses tend to invest in it for the longer term.

This more modern type of signage is digital and interactive by nature. It can range from LED lightboxes through to interactive digital advertising hoardings with multiple faces and screens.

So what are the pros and cons of each?

Weighing up print signage

  • Reliable – Print signs are reliable and unlikely to fail, unlike the software or electrics powering a digital sign.
  • Effective – When used in the right way and with clear branding and wording, physical printed signs are highly effective at signposting or branding.
  • Cost-effective – Print signs are very cost effective, especially now that print methods have advanced and material costs lowered.
  • Flexible – The low cost of this type of sign, especially for pop-ups, A-boards, vinyl tie-signs and pull-up stands, means that multiple versions can be produced for different occasions.
  • Easy to transport – No need to worry about a screen being damaged in transit! Printed signs are robust and easy to transport around. Those designed for flexible use also tend to come in their own carry cases to make the job even easier. Print signs can also incorporate recycled materials to be more environmentally friendly. Some frames for larger pop-ups can also be reskinned to avoid waste.

Weighing up digital signage

There are plenty of advantages of digital signage and many businesses are embracing these more high-tech versions of customer signposting, brand awareness and engagement. Some of the benefits are:

  • Engaging – Digital signage can be highly engaging thanks to its interactive, design-led nature. This can help brands to project their images effectively to raise awareness and engagement.
  • Environmentally friendly – Digital signs are ‘green’ because they don’t require physical print. The content is simply replaced on the software and shown on the single piece of hardware.
  • Effects – Because digital signage can be so completely customised, it offers the chance to build in lots of fantastic visual effects and to change your messaging whenever you need to.
  • A good ROI – Provided that your equipment is looked after and the software updated, your digital signage can have plenty of use and represent excellent value. Its flexibility means that you can adjust this type of signage and use it for all manner of occasions to maximise utilisation.

Retailers especially find that digital signage can be used to increase brand recognition and sales. 

Finding the right blend

Print signage is obviously less flexible because it can’t be easily updated or moved around if it is large and affixed. Digital signs are highly flexible, but they are more fragile and can be broken. Equally, they are more expensive than print signs.

The best approach may lie in combining a mix of print and digital signage for optimum results. For example, physical premises and places where permanent signage are required can benefit from quality print signage which stands the test of time and engaging, impactful digital signs which can be customised to suit the campaign or occasion. The newest digital signs needn’t be hugely expensive and print signs are also flexible, especially where materials can be adjusted.

Where budgets permit, the business should invest in both types and ensure that its brand and premises are well advertised in order to stand out from the competition. With this approach, visibility is maximised, brand recognition is optimised and the return on spend can be measured in terms of higher visits, conversions and sales. A good printer or signage provider can also help each client to assess their needs by carrying out an advertising needs review and making recommendations in line with the available budget and objectives for the work involved.