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Next-Generation Signs: Combining Printed Graphics and Digital Displays

Bank Combines Print and Digital to Create
'Living Mural'
Watch this video to see how the Bank of Montreal combined static printed graphics and digital signage to create "The World’s Largest Living Mural."

It’s not unusual today to see in-store signage dominated by flat panel displays. For traditional print sign shops, this emphasis on new technology can seem intimidating. But in today’s market, the expertise of printed signage companies is needed in the digital space. In the rush to use the latest technology, some digital companies are forgetting important lessons, and the result can be information overload that desensitizes viewers to the message.

There are significant opportunities for traditional print shops that can incorporate these new offerings. Why might print companies have advantages in the digital space? First, they are in a unique position to leverage the knowledge, skills and customer base that they’ve built in print and move it into new territory. Furthermore, print companies often have a much better understanding of the real communication that must take place in signage, without simply relying on the medium as an attention-getter.

An integrated solution

Consider an integrated solution of printed and digital signage. Incorporating both printed and digital displays offer sign shops and their customers the benefits of both formats, with attention-grabbing motion and animation where it’s most effective, and easy-to-read, attractive designs on print in key areas.


Dynamic, attention-grabbing displays can be created by integrating printed and digital solutions

Window Displays
For instance, a combination of rear projection film and graphic film can be used to turn a window into a huge display. This type of installation was completed by the Bank of Montreal to create the world’s largest living mural ­– 22-feet high by 20-feet wide. (See video on this page.)

Floor Displays
Printed and digital solutions have also been used in engaging combinations for floor installations. A projection integrated into the static scene engages viewers with a message in a place they are not expecting to see it, creating a much more dynamic display.

Wall Displays
Similar to window displays, walls can use both graphic film and projection film to achieve the desired atmosphere. Interior walls are also ideal for incorporating touch screen displays that can walk users through a menu of options or products.

Point-of-Purchase Displays
With a pop-up POP display, no stationary wall is necessary to engage customers with a message. Again, a combination of traditionally printed graphics can be incorporated with projection film or touch screen technology to boost sales and marketing.

Strategies for making the leap

There are three main ways for small sign shops to move into the realm of digital media:

  1. They can build the capabilities themselves in-house. Although this route can be time and resource-intensive, it allows owners more control and ultimately an expanded value proposition for customers.
  2. Shops can buy into the market through acquisitions or investments. This reduces the time to market and can come with an existing customer base, but can be culturally challenging and takes significant work and money.
  3. Finally, sign shops can partner with a digital sign company. This is often the best approach for small shops. They can remain the sole interface and source of expertise for customers, while leveraging the talents and know-how of a digital shop. It’s also a very fast way to reach the market with a sophisticated new service.

Today’s digital technologies clearly have outstanding capabilities. But when they are put in the hands of experienced communications professionals, they can truly reach their maximum potential. By integrating printed and digital solutions, today’s sign professionals have an excellent opportunity to grow their businesses, better position themselves for the future, and offer added value to their customers.

For more information on graphic materials, visit 3Mgraphics.com or locate a 3M distributor.