Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Digital Signage, Need to Know: Brand Enhancement Using LED Displays

It does not matter if your company is a multinational operation or you work alone in the backroom of a small shop, you already have a "brand" whether you like it or not. A brand is nothing more than the world’s perception of you and your business.

Some say that “perception is reality” and it is derived by those who use your products or services, travel by your storefront, hear what’s being said about you on the community “Coconut Telegraph” and know how your business behaves when the chips are down. Somehow, either by your deliberate efforts, or by lack of attention to the matter, your “brand” has already been created!   

Yes, you can still influence the world's perception of your business, of course. And, you may as well start today, right now, after reading the rest of this article.

Branding has been called your “identity” and it’s the accumulation of all that you are.  It’s the way you are defined internally and externally. If you have not worked to create and improve your brand, then you should consider some strategies which can help:    .

        1)   Identity and Definition: Who are you? Where does your business fit into the marketplace? Think of your brand as a person, or even yourself,  and define your values, appearance, dialogue and goals.    
        2)  Customer Communication: How do you speak consistently to your customers and what do you say? What can you do to influence the customer perception and improve the relationship and lock them in for longer term? How do you respect their intelligence in your message and also create excitement?
        3)  Values and Originality: Don’t be afraid to be original, and stand up for what your company believes in.  Don’t copy other brands- who wants a copy? Always consider what the company is about and what are the values that drive decisions and actions and promote that. Just putting your logo onto everything does not create a brand.

These items point to one key word- Communication. If you are in the Sign Industry then you already realize that it’s a proven fact that on-premise digital LED signs are highly effective in communicating with passersby. Studies done have  proven that digital LED signs can generate enough new business to actually pay for themselves.

But are digital LED signs really the complete answer to branding? Of course not! Branding is the sum total of how your business is perceived but a digital LED sign is a great start to establishing a strong well-known brand, or repairing the brand image you currently have in your community.  Here are 5 suggestions, or rules, of digital LED signs that must be followed for the branding  “magic" to happen and to "Wow" those who pass by your location:

        1)     Quality Content   
        2)     Consistent Messaging
        3)     Hardware Reliability
        4)     Warranty
        5)     Network Control

Quality Content- The fact that quality content is vital cannot be overstated. Professionally created custom slides and videos are mandatory to establish a credible brand. Ten years ago, it was okay to have ANY message on an LED sign as they were “new and cool” and simply owning one re-enforced your brand. That is not true today.  Unless your entire audience is the 9th grade class at your local JFK High School, do not use content created by a student from that school, no matter how talented. Using professionally created content can make a $10,000 sign as effective as a $30,000 sign, and vice-versa.

Consistent Messaging Remember that customers are smart. They may not wish to think about the message you had on the LED sign last week, but part of their brain forces them to recall it when the new message is displayed. Don’t repeat the same thing over and over, but a certain consistency is important. It’s easy to spot the source of new TV commercials before it’s revealed to be Coke or  Geico. The sound is similar, the colors may be similar, the way the ad “feels” is consistent. So, as your team formulates an integrated advertising campaign remember to be consistent and build the brand.

Hardware Reliability- Not all LED signs are alike. If your LED sign fails with regularity, you probably are trying to build a brand using bricks made of marsh mellow.  Do your research before purchasing an LED sign. Use the Internet but also use the telephone- call some LED manufacturers and see which ones will speak with you. If you are perceived as that Taco Stand with the LED sign that flickers constantly and is blinding bright at night, your brand is in trouble.

Warranty- With a solid, long-duration warranty, one that is insured by a 3rd party and is guaranteed to exist, even if the manufacturer does not, you can keep the LED sign looking “perfect”. If you have an LED sign and you have a small problem  that may cost several hundred out-off-pocket dollars to repair, are you less likely to have it repaired? It’s only a couple LED modules that are out! Can’t  you wait awhile? Sure you can wait but can your brand wait? Several thousand cars travel by your business daily and they see what you stand for- procrastination, if you delay repair. But with a great warranty it’s fixed for no charge or a token charge. Having a sign that partially works is like having a sales rep that wears torn blue jeans to call on customers. The warranty protects your brand.

Network Control- An LED sign is a tool- not a lifestyle. It should work for you, not you for the LED sign. Flexibility in changing the message is important. Do you have to do it from a computer at the office? Really? What happens if you need to change the message on the weekend?  iPad platforms exist these days, and for the on-the-go businessman of 2014, being an “office lizard” is non-revenue generating annoyance. Do research on what is available- it’s far more than a gimmick, it is a mandatory access method.

Building a brand is a long-term effort that requires everyone understanding that everything they say and do impacts the brand. Good is quickly forgotten and bad is always remembered. Be careful, go slow, and use a quality, USA manufactured, LED sign to help jump start your brand name and image.

if you are a sign company, it's not good enough to just plant an LED sign into your customer's parking lot and leave it at that. You should champion these rules and educate the customer to help them create a strong brand. 

This blog post represents my personal perspective and does not reflect the opinion of Vantage LED, Inc. or SignVine, Inc. or any other person or organization. The images for this post are mine and I retain all copyrights. Thank you to Vantage LED for allowing me to pen a guest blog every 3 weeks. If you have constructive feedback please email me at  - Mike Prongue 

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