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Everywhere you turn, you’re greeted with bright displays, vibrant screens, and interactive signs. But you’ve always used and had success with traditional printed signage – do you really need to change too? If you’re confused by the choice between traditional or digital signage, read on as we compare, contrast, and help you to decide what’s best for your audience.

The difference between traditional signage and digital signage

Before jumping straight into the comparisons of traditional and digital signage, let’s first cover the key differences between the two.

Traditional signage

Traditional signage is what you have probably been using for a long time and consists of printed posters, billboards, banners, and shop signs.

Digital signage

Digital signage is what you will have seen in the big cities and large retailers and consists of digital screens and smart LED signage that displays information, videos, and interactive content.

Traditional signage vs. digital signage

The aim of both traditional and digital signage is the communication of a call to action to your customer. How they achieve that aim and deliver results is what differentiates the two, and what will drive your decision on which is the best signage to use.


Let’s start at the very beginning – buying your signage. Traditional signage costs less up front, but what about the long term costs? Printed advertisements only last for as long as your event, promotion, ability to keep it damage-free, or the time it takes to notice any errors – requiring you to fund new signage each time it is replaced or updated. While digital signage requires a larger initial outlay, that screen is yours to use and update for years to come – increasing your ROI beyond that achievable by printed campaigns.

Ease of use

Printed signage also has a reputation for being easy to use – simply deliver a design brief, order, and hang. Digital screens involve a little more effort in their installation, but once they’re up, updating them only requires a click of a button. This makes digital screens easier, especially when quick updates are needed – avoiding lengthy design and order delays.


For your signage to influence your audience’s actions, it needs to attract their attention in the first place. Designed well, traditional signage can be striking and attention-grabbing the initial time someone sees it. But what about the next time, and the time after that? Printed signage is static – giving you one shot at attracting attention and compelling action. Digital screens, on the other hand, have the power to capture your audience multiple times, by tailoring dynamic content so that is different every time someone walks past.


What if you want your signs to engage – make people spend more time in your store, become less aware of their time in line, or learn about the office’s new fire-drill procedure. While printed displays can be somewhat interactive with QR codes and mobile scanning, digital screens take that to the next level with interactive games, quizzes, and live feeds.


The spotlight is on everyone to contribute to the wellbeing of our planet by being mindful of the waste we produce. Traditional signage generates a lot of waste through the printing, delivery, and disposal process. Digital screens don’t – making them perfect for businesses trying to boost their CSR image and practices.


Finally, your signage is a direct reflection of your brand and influences how your audience views you. A restaurant using digital menus and an interactive order system will appear more dynamic, forward-thinking, and customer-focused than a fast food outlet using dirty, damaged, and old-style menus.

Digital vs. traditional signage – how to choose

Those are just some of the comparisons between digital and traditional signage. But how do you choose? Digital signage is the way forward, there’s no doubt about that. But, if you’re still unsure, why not try a mix of traditional and digital signage to see the benefits of both yourself. Printed signage still has its place at times, making a mix of signage the ideal solution for your business.