We looked at several trends today to determine what signage might be like for the next generation. Contrary to what one might expect, the future of signage is not all digital billboards. In fact, print signage remains strong for corporate branding, emerging technologies, and even digital retail experiences.
Signage with a digital influence might be something to keep an eye out for in the future. How does a printed sign have a digital influence you might ask? While QR codes may have gone out of style as fast as they were introduced, they still provide some use cases for signage. Further carrying the digital experience are NFC (Near Field Communication) tags. These tiny stick-on tags, similar to blue-tooth technology, are programmable to connect with mobile devices. Just hold up a phone to the sign with the NFC tags attached and an app or a website will launch. A feature that gives printed signs a role in the digital experience and allows for a seamless message from print to palm. The graphics on the sign become a printed extension of a digital campaign.
Next, we look at a phrase that is thrown around a lot in terms of branding, which is customer experience. The in-store experience is an extension of the online experience and signage is an important part of creating that seamless relationship. Point-of-sale signage is projected to grow steadily over the next several years according to Smithers Pira. So, as brands commit to their in-store presence they will dictate grander signage installations in their retail environments and tradeshows. In store environments are important in competitive markets where the customer experience is the only differentiator between companies and services.
Signage From the Future
A lot can happen in two decades. Signage in 20 years will reflect the need for signage to communicate new technologies as they merge into our everyday lives. A few examples of signage we predict for the future are:
1. Safety signage to designate lanes for driverless cars.
2. Augmented reality signage to notify where to turn on your device for special promotional virtual reality zones.
3. Transportation signage about solar panel highways.
4. Restaurant signage about the newest menu edition: synthetically printed burgers.
5. Warning signage in bathroom mirrors for selfie-takers wearing smart contact lenses. (We’re only slightly kidding!)
Signage Printing Technology
Printing technology continues to develop. For example, the Barberan Jetmaster 1680 is a high-speed, direct-to-corrugate, 6-color digital press. Its high-speed, six-color printer will change up the North American market and beyond as it become more widely available. With better printing capabilities at a better value, printing technology gives an advantage to large signage manufacturers over digital signage options.
The future of signage is bright when we dive deeper into the many ways technology is quickly influencing the market. It’s going to be interesting to see print design evolve and progress faster in the next twenty years than the last 100. What are some signage developments you see happening in the next 20 years?