For those of us who know how forward-thinking our industry is, 2023 has been an encouraging year—especially in the use of new technology.
I’m impressed with how quickly businesses have adopted digital integrations into traditional sign mediums, and the fusion of augmented reality with conventional signs showed our eagerness to combine the comfort of the familiar with the excitement of the new.
In 2024, the sign industry is poised to integrate even more digital touchpoints.
However it’s the blending of new tech with timeless design principles that I’m most eager to see flourish.
Along with new technologies, I’m expecting sustainability to evolve from a desirable option to a must-have practice.
Tech Trends: AI and AR
Most industries have been touched by artificial intelligence (AI) this year, and it has been a compelling force in ours. Generative AI can gather and communicate information to create engaging, dynamic messaging in real time.
If 2023 has been the “Year of AI,” I’d call 2024 the “Year of Personalization.”
Artificial intelligence will enable signs to adjust messaging based on audience demographics, time of day, and even current events.
The coming year might see AI-driven signs that offer real-time promotions or information pertinent to immediate surroundings. Artificial intelligence can also offer predictive analytics, giving businesses insights into customer behavior.
I’m expecting interactive signs to show up in more locations next year—think public spaces like parks, where signs not only provide information but engage the community through interactive elements and even gamification.
Augmented reality (AR) will also play a significant role, offering layered information to users through smart devices. Imagine pointing your phone at a restaurant sign and instantly viewing its menu and reviews and even booking a table!
Many restaurants and businesses have already adopted this technology, but I believe more will offer it as the benefits become clear.
There are drawbacks, of course. Care must be taken to ensure the human touch isn’t lost amidst automation.
Basic factual information, like prices and product features, can be conveyed on AI signage, but it’s no substitute for the human element in certain interactions (at least not yet).
As with any industry leveraging new technologies, initial investments might lead to increased costs. However the value and engagement these signs offer will justify the expense and lead to greater ROI in the long run.
Signs of Sustainability
The digital movement doesn’t exempt sign makers from thinking about their effect on the environment, and I don’t see anyone trying to opt out.
Sustainability is no longer seen as a trend but has become a responsibility.
At Signarama, we’re committed to eco-friendly practices and anticipate the wider industry moving in this direction too. We’ll always champion initiatives that make a positive impact—not just on the environment but also in the communities we serve.
Bio-based plastics, recycled metals, and LED lights with low-energy consumption are the immediate future.
Manufacturing will lean more towards localized production, reducing transport emissions and ensuring fresher, community-focused products.
It’s also worth noting that our latex technology is water-based, not oil-based, which is a conscious choice we’ve made in setting up every store.
Updating Old with New
Does all this tech mean you should toss those traditional printed signs and banners into the recycling bin? Not at all.
The simplicity, clarity, and reliability of traditional signs will ensure they remain an industry staple. They evoke a sense of nostalgia and trustworthiness that digital cannot replicate and offer a genuine touch that many businesses and consumers still value.
But change comes even to these traditional formats.
Minimalistic and adaptable logo designs are gaining traction, enabling seamless integration across digital and physical platforms.
As for colors, we’re noticing a preference for vibrant and bold colors, complemented by a range of other hues that evoke specific emotions and experiences.
Prepare for 2024
The future lies in harmoniously merging the digital and analog worlds.
Beyond technology, sign makers should invest in relationships. Whether it’s with clients, suppliers, or the community, solid relationships form the bedrock of enduring businesses.