Creating killer content that captivates
Creating killer content that captivates Content for the digital signage industry has …
Creating killer content that captivates
Content for the digital signage industry has radically evolved
First Impressions Now Matter
We’re starting to see a shift from big screen digital engagements using cut and dry static slide formats to a wide range of multi sensory, sophisticated motion graphic experiences. However, it would be a gross overstatement to say that all digital signage deploy-ments execute content that way. Some companies are just barely getting their hands around the hardware and software challenges and haven’t even thought about the creative and design aspects of the content they want displayed. The good news is that there are some basic creative principles that when applied can make digital signage content leap off the screen, grab the attention of the intended audience, and create an engaging and memorable experience for them.
Before we dive into what makes killer creative content, we should establish the principle that the human brain processesvisuals faster than text alone.1 This implies that any content that is visually appealing and well-designed can make a positive impact whereas poorly designed content can result in a non-captivated audience.
It takes about 50 milliseconds for user to form an opinion about a website based upon its visual appeal
Well-designed content, put simply, means that it was designed with the target audience in mind, the message was executed in a unique visual way, and there was a certain “wow” factor that demands viewer attention and encourages them to stay longer. In other words, that first impression really does matter.
Visual-based research findings pulled from related industry websites found the following:
- The Human-Oriented Technology Lab at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada discovered that it takes about 50 milliseconds for users to form an opinion about a website based upon its visual appeal.
- Google / YouTube conducted their own research and discovered that users form an aesthetic based judgement of a website based upon whether it was familiar and simple to view. This judgement was found to determine whether they liked or disliked the site.
- A study for Consumer WebWatch for health and finance websites by Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab found that good design leads people to have a heightened trust of the brand, increasing credibility and retention.
The findings of the Consumer WebWatch study provides a very compelling case for good design, as it is the design that either positively or negatively affects how viewers perceive a brand and whether they should trust or mistrust it.
Now that we’ve established a basic foundation for why we need good creative, let’s go ahead and dive into how to make it happen.
Our nature consists in motion;
complete rest is death
Here’s the truth– motion graphics will dominate static visuals in grabbing a viewer’s attention any day. The potential of digital signage content has come a long way from its start as a larger screen version of a basic slide presentation. Now, in order for content creators to take that experience to the next level and mix things up, animation needs to be introduced on some level. This doesn’t mean that everything on the screen has to move, just the things that matter. Animation can be used to highlight content in a way that is entertaining and informative, as well as an element of surprise. So add some movement to an object or graphic that appeared static on screen the first few seconds. Doing this will not only captivate your viewers, but the element of surprise will make them gasp and exclaim how cool your content is. Approaching your content with animation will cause your target audience to take notice and will help you retain their interest, driving longer engagement with the sign.
A great example of how animation enhances digital signage content is highlighted by a project that we completed for Adobe on the Executive Floor of their building. We were tasked with expressing the essence of the Adobe brand, which we did, but not by showing typical rotating static messages. Instead, we envisioned an animated series of vignettes that were launched by simple gestures of the hand or movements of the body in front of a motion detection camera. The final execution definitely grabbed the attention of Executives and conveyed the crux of the Adobe brand— to create innovative ways to express creativity.
To view the Adobe executive experience click here
Take my breath away
There are three responses to a piece of design—
yes, no, and WOW!
Wow is the one to aim for.
While the goal of creating killer content is not exactly to win design awards, that doesn’t mean that what is executed should be a subpar experience.
Everything that ends up on your digital signage screen should make the viewer say underneath their breath, “Wow.”
The cool factor in your design is what sets the average apart from the amazing, the good from the great, the OK from the killer. Never sell your content short by settling for anything less than the “Wow” factor. This will makes every piece of content count toward creating a positive impression of your brand, subsequently compelling viewers to pay more attention to your digital screens and digest your messages.
Once again, good design is crucial to making this happen. If you have not already done so, recruit an experienced visual designer to help create your content, and if you don’t have the budget to hire or subcontract a designer, challenge yourself to learn the basic elements and principles of visual design so that you can create the content that takes your viewer’s breath away:
- Form / Direction
- Imagery (photography, illustration)
- Scale / Size
- Similarity / Consistency
To learn more about basic visual design principles click here
A perfect example of a mind-blowing, visual design experience is the Nike “House of Mamba” basketball court. I remember being sent the link from Array CEO, William Kwok, who was in awe of what Nike had done with a basketball court in China. When I played the promotional video, I was pleasantly surprised by the visual experience.
The “Wow” factor really hit me as I saw LCD graphics displayed on the hardwood floors of the basketball court and realized that the whole basketball court floor was the digital signage. The visual content displayed on that floor helped players to see the techniques and moves of NBA All-Star, Kobe Bryant, who traveled there to unveil it and put on a clinic.
Nike had successfully taken my breath away.
Show me something fresh
It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.
Similar to the previous principle, take my breath away, is this principle that highlights the importance and benefits of content and experiences that are new, innovative and fresh. The opportunities are endless—it can be something entirely new or a deviation to an approach that presents something in a different and unique way.
Now it’s time to think outside the display bezel. Consider the environment and do not limit yourself to just the display screen because the entirety of its setting affects the viewer experience. Here are some relevant questions to push the boundaries of content creativity:
- How does the design of the space affect the experience?
- How will the visuals and content reinforce that experience?
- What can be done to create something unexpected to happen?
- What new technologies can be leveraged for the experience?
- What can be done with audio?
- What can be done with lighting?
The answers to these questions should help spark creative ideas and birth an execution that will be both bold and new.
The hit television show, The Walking Dead, took to the streets of Vienna, Austria to promote the series’ season premier. They created a successful two-day experiential campaign by converting a Vienna tram stop into an unexpected gathering place for zombies. The “Scary Shelter” involved a large display with a real-time feed of the Vienna streetscape, which was then combined with zombie footage shot for the campaign to create the illusion that zombies were approaching the tram stop. This bold, creative thinking leveraged augmented reality technology to bring the zombies to life in a real-world environment. The result for viewers? An unexpected, frightening experience.
Make it unforgettable
I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
Just by implementing the creative principles shared so far, you should already be creating killer digital signage content. The icing on the cake, however, will be to make sure that whatever you create, your audience will never forget their experience. Make them remember you.
There are two ways to create this unforgettable experience.
The first is to do something so clever, so big, so cool, or so innovative that people can never forget what they experienced. We’ve already covered the ways this can be done previously.
The second is more methodical and requires time, but can be just as effective, and that is to create mindshare through constant repetition. Anything that is repeated consistently over a period of time (such as design elements) whether it Is images, shapes, colors, icons, sounds, typography, and even phrases, will be remembered.
The simple game below illustrates my point. Match the items that belong together across the columns:
Think about how you made the associations. How did you know which visual element was connected to another? The answer is that you’ve been exposed to these things consistently over time by advertising, media, and even digital signage, and your brain now recognizes them since they are all stored in your memory.
You don’t even need to consciously think anymore about whether the silhouette of a bottle is Coca Cola or a bitten Apple icon is Apple Corporation. There is no text for you to read, but you know it just by looking at the image. Your mind already made the leap because, as we mentioned in the opening pages, that the brain processes visuals faster than text alone.
Creating digital signage content that is unforgettable works the same way. Ensure that you are consistent in your visual communication and use of design elements so that gradually over time and with constant exposure, that content will be stored in the minds of your audience and will continue to play there long after they’ve walked away from your digital screen.
IBM wanted people to know that they were more than just a technology company, but also a thinking company. They created an experiential exhibit called “Think” to convey that message and used consistent design elements— typography, colors, and shapes— to visually embed their message into the minds of all attendees. The “Think” exhibit was so impactful that a permanent installation was built in the Epcot at the Walt Disney Resort in Florida to continue its mission to help people experience the unforgettable power of IBM’s thinking.
The killer conclusion
In summary, we must never forget that one major differentiating factor between television and the digital signage screen is the ability to interact with the content that is presented. If the incredible content we are creating for digital signage is not moving people to action, whether it’s to gesture, swipe, pinch, tap, or move, then we have not fully used the power of this medium.
The highest level of digital signage creative content will capture our attention, take our breath away, give us something we’ve never experienced, make us remember the encounter, and move us to action. And that’s the killer conclusion of the matter.
So go for it. Apply a few or all of these creative principles and make digital signage content that not only captivates, but also kicks serious butt.
If you do need help, just give us a holler.