How is digital signage changing our highstreets? An experts take

If you look back through history, our high streets have changed a lot. The hustle and bustle seems different, there are new businesses popping up and the goods on sale look almost unrecognisable. However, one thing that probably stands out more than anything is the sense of light and colour that is now a huge part of almost any high street, and a lot of this comes from the signage that we can see.

The days of wooden signs, flashing neon and chalk boards have now gone, and instead we are making more and more use of digital signage. This has changed the way that businesses communicate with their customers and has given our high streets a very different look and feel.

In this article, The New Fat, Design Agency in Nottingham take an expert look at the phenomenon of digital signage and what it means for the many high streets up and down the UK.

What is digital signage?

We will all have seen digital signage displayed prominently in most high streets. Instead of a static sign, window sticker or poster, this is a screen which allows businesses to show their wares in a very different way. The fact that they are digital means that there is almost no limit to what they can display as it can take the form of slides or even video.

These can be found indoors or outdoors, and can be adverts, menus or even information boards. The images that are displayed can be fully controlled and uploaded by the business in a matter of seconds, meaning that they can be changed as frequently as necessary to ensure that the information they are promoting is always fresh and up to date.

Currently the fastest growing digital signage market is in Europe, which might explain why it feels like we have seen such a dramatic change on our high streets. With 40% of shoppers saying that digital signage can change what they decide to buy, it is no wonder that so many businesses are jumping onto the trend in an effort not to get left behind.

Instant access

One thing that businesses love about digital signage is that they can change what they are displaying immediately. Whether they want to switch from a breakfast menu to a lunch one or react to a breaking news story, they have the ability to do this with just a few clicks of a computer mouse.

This gives them instant access to the customers outside, as nothing will ever be out of date. By being able to react immediately to a change, it is possible to have instant access to those who walk past the business and speak to them in a way that will feel relevant.


In the past, a poster or a sign would have to be very carefully crafted in order to provide just the right amount of information. Big images and headlines were eye-catching, but they didn’t leave much room for the fine print, whilst if you tried to cram too much into one space, it would become difficult to read and overwhelming. In both cases, the audience would be lost.

The introduction of digital signage has changed all of that, and instead allows businesses to provide all of the information that they want. The fact that signage can include videos, scrolling text and multiple pages means that there is absolutely no limit to the amount of detail that can be given to the customer.

As this can still be presented in attractive and engaging ways, it means that businesses can have the best of both worlds, meaning that they can cast their net much wider and bring in a much greater number of customers.

From the perspective of the consumer, this is also great news, as they now feel better informed. When they can see more about what a business is offering, they are able to make better choices and can act on something that they have seen knowing a lot more about it.

Brand experience

Once upon a time, signage might have been in place to promote a sale or a new product, but now it has turned into a branding exercise. Businesses don’t just show their latest offer, they replicate the branding that you have seen elsewhere on social media, in magazines or on television to make them seem recognisable and make you more inclined to engage with a brand that you feel you already know.

That is why a walk down a high street you have never seen before will feel less like a foreign land and more like a familiar sight, as you will be shown imagery, branding and messaging that is already known to you. It means that all of a sudden, any high street in the world will now feel like home.

The human brain

You might wonder why digital signage has become such a success, but the answer is that we are hardwired to react to it. Over the years, with our exposure to so many different electronic mediums, we have become programmed to respond to digital images.

In fact, as many as eight out of ten shoppers state that they have entered a store because of something on a digital sign catching their interest. When retailers are able to elicit this level of response from us at a fraction of the cost of other advertising forms, it stands to reason that we are likely to see even more of it in the future.

With the digital signage industry currently valued at $24.86 billion it is clear that this is something that will become more and more common on very high streets.

New technology, including the growth of AI, will make it even easier for businesses to communicate with their customers and react to changing demands in a cost-effective way. That means our high streets are likely to become more of a sensory experience as businesses get even more creative in a bid to win our attention and our all-important business.