Traditional Signage vs Digital Signage


Traditional Signage

Digital Signage

Power No power, no problem
Unlike a digital signage which requires a power supply to operate, a traditional signage does not. It will continue to advertise your brand and message without any power.
Power is required
Power is required for the digital signage to function.
Reliability Highly reliable
A traditional signage is very reliable because it doesn’t have multiple moving parts like a digital signage. Once the signage is installed (properly), it will continue to advertise your message until it is taken down.
Multiple moving parts involved
There are a lot of components involved in making sure the digital signage works such as TVs, media players, routers, internet connection and CMS software. If one of these components breaks down, the digital signage will stop functioning.

Here is an example of what goes on behind the scenes for digital signage to operate.

Setup location Setup anywhere
A traditional signage can be setup anywhere. You can setup a signage at the top of Mt Everest or in the Great Barrier Reef and it will do fine.
Limited setup location
A digital signage can only be setup at a location where there is a power source. However, with the advancement of battery technology and the reduction of its costs, the location where a digital signage can be setup will continue to increase over time.
Upfront cost Minimal upfront cost
With the advancement of digital printing technology, the prices of any print-related signage have gone down dramatically.

As a comparison, a 55″ digital signage screen will cost you approximately $2,200. This is excluding installation, media players and software licensing fees.

A vinyl banner of a similar size will cost you just $100. A digital signage is 22x more expensive than a vinyl banner.

High upfront cost
Here are some rough numbers on the upfront costs of a digital signage:

  • Signage set – $1,000 to $6,000.
  • Media players – $0 to $500.
  • Software licensing fee – $0 to $1,000.
  • Installation – $300 to $1,000.

There are also ongoing and maintenance costs involved in making sure the digital signage works.

Maintenance cost Little to no maintenance cost
Once the signage is up, it is up and requires little to no maintenance.
Ongoing maintenance costs
There are multiple recurring maintenance costs associated with digital signage such as software licensing fees, electricity costs, maintenance and repairs.

Most customers overlook this cost and did not account for this in their signage budget.

Changing the graphic Manually change it over
To change the graphic on the signage, someone has to be on-site to change it over. In most cases, an installer is hired to do the job.
Instantly with a few clicks
Changing the graphic on your digital signage requires just a few clicks of a button.

Interactiveness Limited interactivity
The graphic on the signage is static. There are some creative things you can do with the graphic such as making it look 3D but that’s about it.
High level of interactiveness
You have the option to do almost anything with your digital signage such as adding touch capabilities, video and audio.

You can also add as many graphics to your digital signage as possible. Each digital signage can also be customised to show a unique graphic for that specific location.

Exposure Dollar for dollar, traditional signage wins
With $2000, you can get a 55″ digital signage screen.

With that same $2000, you can get a 100m mesh banner.

Dollar for dollar, traditional signage will grab more attention than digital signage.

Image result for selbys rip curl fence mesh

Better in an indoor setting
If money isn’t an issue then digital signage of a similar size will grab more attention than traditional signage because of its interactive capabilities.

However, in most cases, the budget is always the top or one of the top priority when it comes to signage.


Pros of traditional signage

  • No power, no problem
  • Highly reliable
  • Setup anywhere
  • Minimal upfront cost
  • Little to no maintenance cost
  • Dollar for dollar, traditional signage will grab more exposure

Cons of traditional signage

  • Graphics have to be manually changed over
  • Limited interactivity

Pros of digital signage

  • Graphics can be changed instantly with a few clicks
  • High level of interactiveness

Cons of digital signage

  • Power is required
  • Multiple moving parts involved
  • Limited setup location
  • High upfront cost
  • Ongoing maintenance costs

Top 5 Avoidable Retail Signage Mistakes

Mistake 1: Waaaaaaaaaaaay too many words

The number one goal of signage is to get its message across. An effective sign will achieve that with a clear and concise message.

A lot of beginner graphic designers or marketers will try to fit as much information as they can into their artwork because they think the more information they add into their signage, the more customers will read. In reality, it is actually the opposite. The more words you have in your signage, the more likely your customers are going to ignore it.

Here is an example.

Look at the image below.

What did you read?

The majority of you will just read “Too Much Text.” and skip the rest of the text below that.

The majority of your shoppers will take a 1 to 2 seconds glimpse of your signage and continue doing whatever they are doing. They will not stand still and read every word of your signage because you put it there.

Here is a good simple signage that gets its point across very well.

The signage only consists of six words. “For great taste, just add steam.”

It doesn’t try to cram as much information as possible into the signage such as the brand’s innovative steaming technology, a list of dishes you can steam, the reason why steaming is a healthy option to prepare food, the brand’s relevant product lines, etc.

Here is a classic one – “Sale. Up to 50% off.” It has been overly used and customers might not really believe the 50% sale BUT it gets its message across which is there is a sale and everyone understands that.

Mistake 2: Reusing old signage

In today’s eCommerce world, retailers are cutting costs on their store signage. They might reuse signage from 5 years ago to save on costs. However, that $1 in savings might actually be costing $2 in lost sales. Old signage makes the store look outdated and cheap which causes a downward cycle of declining sales.

The image below is a sign from a Kmart store in the US that closed down.

Mistake 3: Choosing an overly fancy font

Font selection is critical to the effectiveness of signage. The proper choice of font should convey the desired brand image while at the same time be readable by customers.

Graphic designers and marketers can sometimes be too creative with their font choice thinking the fancier the font type, the more awareness they will get which will result in more people walking into their store. In fact, it is the opposite. Illegible signage actually hurts the brand and annoys customers if they can’t understand your signage.

Here is an example of a designer or business owner who was too creative with their font choice.

Mistake 4: Inconsistent colours

Colour is a factor that most designers and marketers miss especially if it is for a big retail brand such as IKEA. IKEA has a specific yellow and blue in its brand and all its signage and marketing collateral should match or closely match that exact same yellow and blue. It isn’t as simple as taking the blue from Microsoft Paint and using that.

The designer has to understand PMS colours (also known as spot colours) or at minimum CMYK colours.

Here is an example of six brands with green as their primary colour.

All of them have a different shade of green.

Colour consistency becomes more important when you are rebranding the whole store, launching a new promotion, or running a brand activation campaign with multiple marketing collaterals such as directional signage, informational signage, brochures, and pull up banners. Ideally, you want your brand colours to match up in all the signage and marketing collaterals.

Mistake 5: Not allocating enough time for the print process

Printing takes time and the time it takes is normally much longer than we think. There is a process that a signage has to go through to get to the final product which you see in store.

It is not like placing an order in an eCommerce store then your order gets picked off a shelf and shipped to you the next day. Depending on your order, designers also must take into consideration the time it requires to install the signage before the event or promotion. This becomes extremely tedious when the retailer has stores worldwide that require installation before a date.


The five avoidable retail signage mistakes are:

  1. Waaaaaaaaaaaay too many words
  2. Reusing old signage
  3. Choosing an overly fancy font
  4. Inconsistent colours
  5. Not allocating enough time in the print process

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The 4 Types of Trade Show Booths

The types of exhibition stands covered in this post are:

  1. Inline booth
  2. Corner booth
  3. Peninsula booth
  4. Island booth

1. Inline booth

Inline booths are the most common booths in a trade show. Inline booths are also referred to as linear or row booths. An inline booth is sometimes referred to a perimeter booth if their booths are backed against the venue wall. These booths are generally arranged in a straight line with other inline booths and corner booths. Only the front of the booth is exposed to the aisle.

The typical size of an inline booth is 3m x 3m or 6m x 3m.

Here are two examples of inline booth designs.

2. Corner booth

A corner booth is situated at the end of an aisle. The biggest difference between a corner booth and an inline booth is it provides access to attendees from two sides. One from along the horizontal aisle and the other from the vertical aisle. As the corner booth is exposed from two aisles, the exhibitor can expect a higher number of visitors compared to an inline booth.

Here are two examples of corner booth designs.

3. Peninsula booth

A peninsula booth is situated at the end of an aisle. A peninsula booth is accessible from three sides of the booth with the back being against another booth. There are two types of peninsula booths:

  • The first type has its back against an inline booth.
  • The second type has its back against another peninsula booth which creates an island in itself.

The typical sizes of a peninsula booth are 6m x 3m and 6m x 6m.

Here are two examples of peninsula booth designs.

4. Island booth

An island booth is open on all four sides. Because it is accessible to attendees from all sides, it tends to attract the most attention out of all the booth types. The island booth is also the most expensive booth because it requires a more elaborate design.

The typical size of an island booth is 6m x 6m.

Here is an example of an island booth design.

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The 5 Types of Trade Show Attendees

The five types of trade show attendees covered in this post:

  1. The Tire Kickers
  2. The Freeloaders
  3. The Gatherers
  4. The Spy
  5. The Buyer

1. The Tire Kickers

These people are your equivalent to your window shoppers in retail. Most of the time, these tire kickers just want to have a chat and kill time before the next presentation.

Tire kickers are also attracted to flashy booths with interactive features. You can easily spot one of these tire kickers as they casually walk around your booth with their hands in pockets.

The four characteristics of a tire kicker:

  • They don't match your target client personas.
  • They don't have a specific issue that they need to solve.
  • Their need isn't urgent.
  • They don't have a budget.

2. The Freeloaders

The freeloaders love freebies and they will collect as many of them as long as it is free - Promotional pens, tote bags, brochures, you name it. As long as it's free, they will take it. They can easily be identified with a tote bag full of promotional items from multiple brands and booths.

Although, they may occasionally show interest in your company and what you have to offer but they are only doing it to gather free items from your staff. When this happens, the trick here is to quickly get to the point in the conversation where you can make a decision on whether they are a genuine lead or a freeloader.

Here are three quick questions to ask to differentiate between a freeloader and a genuine lead:

  • Are they attending the trade show to look for a solution?
  • Do they have a budget in mind?
  • Are they the key decision maker?

3. The Gatherers

The Gatherers have a goal during the show and that is to gather as much information as they can. They are there to learn about the industry and keep up to date on the latest technology in the industry.

The Gatherer may turn into a buyer in the future but during the show, they aren't actively looking for a solution. Gatherers can be potential clients in the future so keep their details in your CRM when that time comes you are ready. There might be a chance you may be able to convert a Gatherer into a client by offering an attractive trade show only offer.

4. The Spy

This is the "other guy" from that other booth. They will casually stroll into your booth to have a chat about how the show is going. Then they might move on to ask about your company's products and services or questions that a typical prospect wouldn't ask such as production costs, suppliers, etc.

Although there is no harm sharing knowledge within the industry but just be careful not to share confidential information about your company.

5. The Buyer

The Buyers are the people you want visiting your booth. These people are visiting your booth for the #1 reason you are exhibiting in the first place - to buy your product/s. The Buyers understand their goals for the show very well. They are looking for a specific solution that will solve their problem they are currently experiencing in their organisation.

A simple tip to differentiate a Buyer from the rest is the Buyer will have BANT - Budget, Authority, Need and Time.

The Buyer will ask very specific questions about your products and services and how you will be able to solve their needs. The Buyer is also open to giving you their details to follow up and send him/her more details.

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Pros and Cons of Modular Exhibition Stands



No tools required

No specialist or tools required to setup which saves you time and on labour costs.

Some systems might be complicated to setup

Most modular display systems come with many moving parts which makes them complicated and generally can’t be setup in less than an hour.

A professional, customised look

Customised to the way you want it to look.

Some may require a logistics company to transport

Depending on different modular display brands. Some may require a logistics company to transport your stand to the venue due to their size.

Can be customised to suit any booth size

Easily adapt to suit the size of your booth, floor space and your changing display requirements.

Some are bulky and becomes hard to store

Most modular display systems are not compact enough to be easily stored and may require a warehouse facility.

Not all modular stand systems are created equal – Some modular systems have very large parts which make them difficult to transport and store. Check with the supplier how big and heavy their parts are.

A cost-effective solution

Hardware can be reused for years to come and you only have to pay for any new graphic prints you require.

TRIGA, a modular system without the disadvantages of a standard modular system

TRIGA has all the advantages of a modular exhibition stand without the disadvantages of a standard modular system.

  1. Fast setup time - The TRIGA® exhibition stands can be setup in less than 1/4 of the time it takes to build a similar custom stand.
  2. Easy and no tools required - No specialist or tools required to setup which saves you time and on labour costs.
  3. Save on transportation costs - Packed down into portable carry bags for ease of transport.
  4. Easy to store - Packs down into bags and are very easy to store which saves you on storage costs.
  5. Professional, customised look - Customised to the way you want it to look. Stand packages are also available to speed up the design process.
  6. Can be customised to suit any booth size - Easily adapt to suit the size of your booth, floor space and your changing display requirements.
  7. Multiple accessories available - Includes accessories such as LED lights, shelving units, storage, portable counters and TV mounting brackets.
  8. The most cost-effective long-term solution - Hardware can be reused for years to come and you only have to pay for any new graphic prints you require.

When should you choose a modular exhibition stand?

Here are the situations when you should choose to go for a modular stand:

  • You are looking for a long term stand that can be reused for years.
  • You are looking for a stand that can adapt to different booth sizes such as 3m by 3m, 6m by 3m or 6m by 6m.
  • You need something that looks professional and cost-effective at the same time.
  • You want to save on transportation costs to and from the show and installation and dismantling of your stand.

Compare pop up stands, modular stands, custom stands and TRIGA stands here.