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What Your Digital Signage Is Really Saying About Your Company

May 12, 2008
The visual aspects of marketing information, whether presented on your website, your letterhead, business cards or on the digital signage that narrowcasts your company's mission statements, goals and visions to clients and suppliers in your corporate waiting room, say a lot about your company - about who you are as a business. It's almost like a digital signature, and people will try - even if subconsciously - to decipher what your handwriting says about who you are.

How people perceive a company, how they imagine a company and its products based on the images they see, has been the subject of much research. The way information is perceived contributes to a company's brand. Studies into font and color psychology offer valuable insights to creators of digital signage content.


At one time graphologists studied people's handwriting for clues about the personality and character of the writer. The same kinds of studies have been done about fonts. By learning the perceptions that fonts create, digital signage designers can choose a font that suits their company's brand and image.

A study conducted by the Software Usability Research Laboratory at Wichita State University determined that fonts are associated with certain character traits. Here are some of the traits exhibited by the fonts most commonly used in business:

Times New Roman - stable, practical, mature, conformist, polite
Arial - stable, conformist
Georgia - formal, assertive, practical

Fonts that scored high for creativity and attractiveness include Rage Italic, Gigi and Monotype Corsiva. At the other end of the scale, the fonts that had more negative associations (unattractive, coarse, rude) include Courier New, Impact and Rockwell XBold.

Clearly the typeface makes a strong impression, but so do size and spacing. According to Digital Signage Networks: Theory, Psychology and Strategy:

- Thick fonts connote self-confidence and dominance, while thin fonts show spirituality and honour.
- Rounded fonts and large fonts create a sense of fun and playfulness.
- Compressed fonts show exclusiveness and intensity, while even spacing demonstrates reliability.


The impact of colour has been recognized for centuries. More recently, psychological studies have attempted to define the types of emotions and reactions that certain colours elicit:

Red - excitement, danger, passion, power, aggression - increases appetite
Orange - warmth, enthusiasm, intensity - seen as less aggressive than red, also increases appetite
Yellow - energy, warmth, hope
Green - growth, freshness, youth
Blue - calm, tranquility, serenity
Pink - calming, relaxing
Purple - richness, sophistication, luxury
Brown - stability, reliability, credibility
White - innocence, purity

Another factor of note - bright colours tend to have more positive associations than dark colours.


The choice of font and colour says a lot about the image you are trying to create. For digital signage designers and digital advertising software designers, it is worthwhile to investigate the scientifc research on font and colour to ensure the best selection.

Before deciding on a wild colour scheme and selecting a font that rates high for creativity, remember the practicalities involved in signage - above all else, a sign must be legible:

- Sans-serif fonts (like Arial or Tahoma) are usually best for large displays. Serif fonts (like Times New Roman) are typically better for print.
- Some color combinations reduce legibility. For example, blue text on a black background is difficult to read.
- Contrast is a major concern for digital signage. Colors of similar brightness should not be used together. The best combination for legibility is usually a light background with dark text.


If you are not sold on the subtle, yet powerful impact that font and colour selections have on the market audience you are targeting with your digital signage, look no further than the impact that the visual aspect and optics of Apple's MacIntosh computers have enjoyed right from the get go. If not for the visual appeal of the Mac it would never have thrived and survived against IBM, Microsoft and the PC platform.

In his commencement address to Stanford University's 2005 graduating class - by now a YouTube classic - Mac designer and Apple co-founder, Steve Jobs, who dropped out of Reid College, credits the calligraphy course he monitored after he dropped out, with giving him the vision to build into the oroginal Mac the visual appearance, fonts and interface that made the Mac an historic, best-selling success. Today, the visual appeal of all Apple's products continue to make the company and its logo one of the world's most recognized brands. Their visual look is their digital signature, a case study for all digital signage designers and digital marketers.
About the Author
EK3 Technologies Inc. is a leader in digital signage, narrowcasting and digital advertising software. Visit EK3's website at www.ek3.com or call 1-866-353-8324 for business solutions and services that capture your audience and deliver your message.
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