Finding the Right Word: Tools for Digital Signage Message Creators

We’ve talked about using keywords in your digital signage messages, and in this article, we’re giving you more resources to explore words, slang and trends. Remember that you want your messages to use clear and concise language, so the words you choose are important. This is especially true for message titles and headlines that need to grab your viewers’ attention.

English has the largest vocabulary of any language in the world with well over a million words, and a staggering 25,000 new words are coined every year – that’s almost three every hour. The demand for new content on the web, and the increasing number of content creators, means that there are a lot of people out there trying to capture a sizable share of the attention-market.

This sometimes involves finding clever turns of phrase, resurrecting old slang, and creating neologisms, new words and phrases, that will start “trending”. Sometimes these news terms become so commonplace, people wonder how they survived without them (consider the ubiquity of the verb “to google”, or how everything to do with software these days is an “app”.) You’ll want to keep abreast of current vocabulary trends so you don’t fall out of touch with your audience.

There are plenty on online resources you can use to explore. First off, there are the dictionaries – English is unique among Indo-European languages, in that there’s no official organization that determines what is or is not “proper” English. Instead, we have dictionaries, which only deal with the meanings and uses of words. The big four all keep track of trending and new words:

Other sites also track the constantly shifting vocabulary scene, and often list new slang:

And there are plenty of blogs out there with articles full of curated data, or commentary on trends:

However, you don’t want to confuse your audience by using new terms they are unfamiliar with, unless that’s your intended “hook”. A person walking quickly past a display that has a message that says “Don’t be a crumplesack – get your reports in on time” might make people stop and look for a moment, but it’s a bit obscure and might not stick in their minds without further explanation. On the other hand, maybe it gets people talking in the break rooms (“What the heck is a crumplesack?”) and in the meantime, the real part of the message – “get your reports in on time” – is looked at repeatedly while they try to figure out what the unknown word means. (For the record, a “crumplesack” is a person who underperforms, to the chagrin and sometimes amusement of their peers).

Remember that your audience is a unique combination of individuals, so you can certainly test-run some terms to see what sticks and generates buzz. In fact, there’s probably a good chance you have a logophile or two in your organization (call them “word nerds” if that’s more comfortable) who already look at this sort of thing in their spare time, and would love to be tasked with finding interesting and relevant new words for your digital signage content. Ask around.

Honing the vocabulary you use, grabbing attention with words trending outside your facility, or seeding your environment with enticing new words can make your digital signage messages feel relevant and current. Your audience will think of your digital signage as another one of the many reliable and useful sources of information they can trust every day.