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How to Choose and Use Digital LED (EMC) Signage

June 1, 2020
John Wachniak

There are many things to consider in determining whether incorporating a digital LED sign (also known as an Electronic Message Center or EMC) into your landscape is right for your business or organization.

EMCs are digital signage made from clusters of three colored LED diodes set millimeters (mm) apart. The diode clusters form points of color that form an image, text or animation when viewed at a distance. Like pixels on your computer screen, the closer the pixels, the sharper an image will be.  This is known as resolution. The distance between the clusters determines the resolution of the signage and the crispness of the image.

LED-Choices-Color-Temp     LED-Color-Choices

EMCs come in a variety of resolutions, sizes and styles to fit your location, purpose and budget. Whether you create something new or retrofit an existing sign with a new EMC, it’s a cost-effective, convenient and vibrant way to deliver your message to customers, 24 hours a day.

In retail environments, digital signage is most often used as an advertising tool to display sale items and pricing and invoke action. In service or community applications, digital signage is used to provide information or to direct visitors.

Some models come equipped with software that allows you to program your messaging based on factors like weather, time of day or other factors so that your message is always relevant to passersby. Consistent, timely messaging like temperature, time or weather conditions can create a community following for your sign.

Seven Things to Consider When Choosing an EMC Sign for Your Business

Interaction: Like any purchase, you’ll want to consider how your customers and passersby will naturally interact with the sign.

  • How will they be travelling and at what speed?
  • Will the sign be seen from both sides?
  • What height will the sign be seen from and what angle?
  • What content do you plan to display?

Resolution: EMCs come in a variety of resolutions designed to fit the angle and distance between your sign and your audience, from 6 mm to 19 mm. The location and height of your sign will determine the resolution you choose. The higher the resolution, the greater the acceptable distance for clear viewing. So, for example, a sign that is 6 mm in resolution will display images clearer than a sign that is 16 mm. A good rule of thumb is to select one millimeter for every meter of viewer-to-sign distance. 

"When choosing resolutions, a good rule of thumb is to select one millimeter for every meter of viewer-to-sign distance."

Location and Zoning: You’ll want to position your new EMC in a location where it can be easily seen by customers and other potential patrons. Depending on your community, there may be zoning restrictions on the height, size and type of sign you’re allowed for your location. A qualified sign professional can help you navigate these restrictions before you get too far into the process.

Size and Shape: The size of your sign may be determined by zoning restrictions, distance from your audience and location restraints. Message design options allow you to customize your sign with options such as size, shape, colors, single- or double-sided faces and different fonts and colors.Our sign brochure illustrates the variety of options for your sign design. 

Content Type: EMCs have the ability to display text, video, imagery and animation. The content you wish to display will determine the type of EMC best for you. Some offer full video and true-to-life imagery, which should most closely match your video formatting. Others come with access to thousands of free images and animations for customized messaging.

Budget: Digital LED signage (EMC) combines traditional signage with modern marketing tools. The EMC is a 24-hour sales person. In contrast to traditional advertising and publications, they offer the ability to change messaging without additional costs. A well-made, quality sign is worth the investment when you consider it reaches across all three areas of business marketing: signage, advertising and marketing. Look to those three areas for budget to cover your investment.

Existing Signage: If your existing signage includes an EMC, a sign professional can evaluate whether it is time to upgrade to a newer model. Digital LED signs improve annually with better graphics, colors and energy efficiency. The software that comes with the signage improves as well, becoming more and more user friendly. If you’ve enjoyed an EMC already, consider what an upgrade might do for your business.

We've created this collection of handy videos that will help you as you consider height, size, shape, and resolution of your new signage. 

Annual Energy Cost Savings Estimator

Navigating the details of creating new signage to support your brand and help with sales can quickly get confusing. Our qualified sign professionals can help guide you through the decision making process and even point out examples already established in your community. Request a quote or learn more about our services at, or call (262) 781-1500 to speak with a sign professional today.