CREATOR Q&A WITH SNA DISPLAYS: LEFTCHANNEL

As any good digital signage consultant will tell you, planning and executing quality creative content is critical to getting the most out of a display asset. Even the most high-end LED display on the market won’t live up to its potential if ownership doesn’t dedicate appropriate resources to content creation. 

Fortunately, SNA Displays has worked with many talented creators who posses the skills necessary to design eye-popping visuals that make our LED screens stand out. We started this creator highlight series to recognize content studios and inspire further creative applications of LED display technology in our industry. 

In this edition of Creator Q&A with SNA Displays, we feature leftchannel, an Ohio-based design consultancy studio that focuses on motion to tell stories and drive compelling brand experiences. You can find leftchannel’s work at Rise Hollywood, Sheraton Dallas Hotel, Centene, and Typeface’s AI app launch video.

What are some of the biggest challenges for content creators?

Users are bombarded by messages and screens are everywhere. For as long as everybody is screaming their story to the users and trying to sell something, people are going to get better and better at tuning out digital content. If you want to make people watch and keep them watching, you better have a strategy that benefits the users. If you want the experience to be memorable, they need to see themselves in it.

What’s critical to creating a visually stunning experience?

Meaning. That’s the only thing that matters. The visual technique is only the decoration. If the user can’t find meaning in the content, they are going to be disengaged. From the point of view of companies, the problem is the same. Businesses invest in experiences for a business reason. They might say they want an “eye catching” visual experience, but somewhere in there, there is a deeper story that they hope to tell. Any visual experience has to deliver a clear brand focus and a strong message. Maybe you have succeeded in making people remember your piece, but what exactly are they remembering?

Why is balancing both form and function such an essential part of leftchannel’s work?

It’s in our culture. Even though we are rooted in art, ultimately we are designers. The work needs to serve a purpose or solve a problem, otherwise it kind of doesn’t matter what it looks like. One of the reasons why aggregators like Behance can look so good is because they are just visual reviews of visual styles divorced from their function. It’s fairly easy for a good art director to create attractive pieces that do absolutely nothing.

Every designer knows that the challenge of actually having to make a piece of design work for an application is a far greater challenge. When it comes to experiential design, there is an added challenge of an industry enamored with technology, where the tendency is to think of what hardware to get even before the intention of the experience (the content) is set.

What’s a tech-forward brand engagement that shows how marketers can use technology to make an impact?

The Nike experience in Manila is a great example of how technology serves the purpose of the brand. Users are invited to run against a projection of themselves, trying to beat their own time. It’s a great way to visualize the main focus of the brand, to push yourself to get better.

We produced a digital lobby experience recently for Centene, a Fortune 26 giant in the health insurance industry. It invites people to have an intimate experience in front of a large interactive screen, because we wanted to visualize the company’s main brand tenet of focusing on the individual in a way that could be experienced, rather than just be read as a corporate slogan. Their mission statement is, “Transforming the health of the community, one person at a time.”

What technologies and trends do you think are going to have the biggest impact on the brand marketing, content creation, and design fields?

That’s always a tricky question, because the technologies come and go so fast that it’s very unlikely you could identify the one that really will make the most significant impact. Actually, technology needs to be somewhat transparent, because that’s what’s going to make your experience feel dated the fastest. You can watch Blade Runner today and it doesn’t feel too dated because of all the practical effects, but watch a CG movie from 5 years ago and you already see its age. If people want to build experiences that will last they will need to have a larger focus on the content, story, and emotional impact on the audience and use technology that serves that purpose.

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