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Traditional Static vs Digital Signs: Pros and Cons

Whether you’re setting up a new location, or upgrading your current sign, the choice of what type of sign is incredibly important. A sign can be the first impression customers get of your business when they pull up to your door. In fact, one study found that 76% of people choose to enter a business based on its signage. And 68% of consumers believe that a business’ sign reflects the quality of products and services found there.

So what does your sign say about your business? Is the simpler traditional static, the way to go, or the newer digital sign with increased flexibility and customization? Either option has positives and negatives depending on the impact you are trying to make.

Let's dig into the differences.

Traditional Static Signs

Static signs have been around since the beginning of time. For the purposes of comparison, we are defining them as any non-digital sign that shows one advertisement at a time. These can consist of vinyl banners or readerboards, and often need to be replaced to reflect your latest promotions.

Pros of Static Signs

The most significant positive aspect of a static sign is pretty simple: the initial investment and installation cost is lower than a digital sign. They are simple, easy to install, and require very little attention outside of changing them out.

When talking brand awareness, a static sign can promote one key advertisement. So, if you prefer "set it and forget it" advertising, and your message holds up to extended viewing, a static sign might be the right choice. Oftentimes, we see that businesses supplement their static sign with sandwich boards, or banners when they want to promote a sale or event. 

Cons of Static Signs

In many cases, the cons are directly related to the pros for static business signs. For example, while the cost is lower for installation, you also will have to print, fabricate, and ship every sign you change. You’ll also need to take down old signage in a timely manner and put up the new ones. Or, if you choose a readerboard, you must have an employee go out and change out the letters manually – and bad weather may prevent you from changing your sign at all. This can be pretty inconvenient if you have something to convey quickly or can cause you to miss an opportunity to jump on a trend. 

If you’re looking to keep your messaging fresh, it will be incredibly difficult with a static sign. You’re also limited by space, you can only share one message at a time on a vinyl or readerboard sign. And with a readerboard, you can’t use images, videos, or social content to catch more attention.


Digital Signs

Digital Signs are rapidly becoming the medium of choice, and are popping up everywhere. They allow you to show multiple messages as a car drives by or 3-4 different ads as someone walks from their car to your front door. But like static signs, there are pros and cons to choosing digital signage as your next sign investment.


The first pro of digital signs is their ease of use. Once they are installed you can quickly, and easily, change an ad, or whole set of ads with a content management platform. This makes it easy to show off multiple products or promotions at the same time. With the flexibility of digital, you can also promote community messaging. You can send congratulations to the state champs, or share information about a blood drive this weekend, which would be impossible to do in real-time with static signage.  With digital, there is no printing, shipping, or installation fees for changing your sign. Content can be created, managed, and scheduled with cloud-based software, like ScreenHub, from anywhere on the planet.

You can also be more creative and experiment with content, which allows you to run A/B tests to truly optimize your messaging and maximize your return on investment. Since you can schedule content, weeks or months in advance, you can deliver messages based on the time of year, seasonality of products or services, holidays, or any type of timeframe. The possibilities are limitless. For instance, a dealership could run SUV promotions when it’s snowing and convertible ads on sunny warm days -- driving demand when it has the biggest impact. In fact, FedEx found that 70% of consumers admit to buying a new product because they saw it on a sign. With that in mind, the ability to show multiple promotions could have a big impact on revenue. 

Digital signage is significantly more eye-catching than static. The bright colors and changing images draw attention. Adjusting content also means that your ad doesn’t start to blend into the background after it’s been up a while. It works very well for short-term promotions like sales, or limited-time specials. It can also run branding messages alongside promotions.

Cons of Digital Signs

Digital signs are more expensive than their static counterparts, but this may not be as big a difference as you may think. Once you consider the cost of printing and installing  over time, costs might be closer than expected. Cirrus digital signage can also be purchased on a no-interest subscription, which can help you pay for the sign over time, and align the cost in your traditional marketing budget. At the end of the day, a digital sign is another type of marketing tool 

Digital signs are also heavier than their static counterparts. They will require additional support, which makes installation more expensive. That’s why it is important to do your research before making a change. Many digital sign brands may not be able to be installed in the same places as static signs. There are lighter options, like Cirrus LED modules, which can often be installed without additional structural support, but a site visit is always recommended to determine what would be required.

Finally, you’ll need to factor in power costs. While improvements to LED technology have vastly reduced the amount of power these signs need, they do use power. If your current sign doesn’t have power, you will need to include this in your installation. 

Deciding on a Static or Digital Sign

Whether you’re placing a sign at a new location, or you’re replacing something outdated, we recommend you start by examining the signage codes in your area. Once armed with that information, you can make an educated decision on what would be best for your business.

If you’d like to learn more about digital signage, we’re here to help. We can discuss options and determine if a digital sign is right for your project.