Thursday, April 18, 2013

Digital Signage "Need to Know": Time and Temperature on LED Be or Not to Be.

- Scott Hofheins

Showing the time and temperature on signs has been around since Luke Williams and his brother Chuck invented and installed the first “Time and Temperature Sign” at the Seattle First National Bank in the early 50’s. This was the beginning of the classic integration of time and temperature into bank signage in the United States. You can still see banks with these single purpose units to this day, always steady and never veering from their simple message.

Technology has increased exponentially since that time, and we now have full color, multipurpose LED displays capable of so much more. So why do people continue to use these signs to display time and temperature? Is there any real benefit these days?

Target Audience

It’s all about the target audience. Even in this world of weather apps and smart phones, there are still some benefit to displaying time and temperature, but only in the right market and application. Time and Temperature signs are still manufactured and can still be a nice addition to a traditional sign package, giving a little boost to the look of a project. But displaying time and temperature on a full fledged LED sign should only be done when there is a clear and direct benefit to your organization. Otherwise, it’s just wasted advertising space.

In the past, having a time and temperature unit was like having a megaphone saying “look at me, here is the time, temperature and a place to spend your money too!”. This evolved into single color LED signs with scrolling text, and then to multi-colored signs with text and simple graphics. This kind of default attention for your organization just for having an LED sign was significant. The content on the sign was equal to, if not secondary to the mere physical presence of the Time/Temp or LED display.

Content is King

However, as technology improves and the public is more exposed to the latest and greatest tech, the focus has shifted dramatically to the content of an LED sign. People expect an LED sign to give them immediate, dynamic information, like their smartphone or tablet. The “wow” doesn’t just come from an LED sign anymore, it comes from the actual media on the display.

You have to provide clear, concise and readable messages that a potential patron can absorb quickly and effectively. But this doesn’t mean that simple, one or two color text only messages are the way to go. The consumer wants it all! The message has to look colorful, crisp, dynamic, and provide the necessary information in one 6-8 second burst of greatness. The balance between information and beauty is what separates the good, from the great.
Time and Temperature?

That brings me back to Time and Temperature. It’s really about making sure you’re not using this feature just because it’s there. There are situations and markets where displaying time and temperature is very beneficial, like:

Schools and Churches
They both have a vested interest in getting people places on-time, but also have a need to advertise events and other information. Balance is important.

Manufacturing and Industrial
These applications appreciate “data” and the target group can benefit from this information.

Rural Areas and Town Centers
Many people in these areas like the convenience of getting the time and temp on there way to work or the market each day and take comfort in tradition.

Event and Directional Signage
Outdoor events and gatherings inherently have an increased value for the time and current temperature.

The Real Question

Unless you have a very clear target audience that will appreciate the time and temperature, you are better off using the space for content that advertises your organization or events directly. This is often overlooked because of our human tendency for traditional thought, and sometimes forget to take a second look and say, “does this really make sense?” That is the real question. Remember, you have a limited amount of time to get your information to the public; use it wisely.


I hope this post has been informative and helpful. As usual, I welcome ALL constructive comments. Please feel free to comment and add anything I’ve missed, or additional tips you may have regarding this topic. Please visit for many other resources, white papers, and of course: Great looking LED Signs!

**All posts/thoughts/writings are strictly the viewpoint of me and me alone and do not reflect nor speak for Vantage LED’s beliefs, attitudes, thoughts, etc. unless specifically stated.

No comments:

Post a Comment