Designing for Out Of Home Media (OOHM) has always presented both a unique opportunity and challenge for designers, but for many years it’s been something of a stable industry in terms of the available media. From hoarding graphics to billboards, and even vehicle graphics, the available canvases for print have remained fairly consistent. Comparatively recently, however, one medium, in particular, has been shaking things up: escalator branding. In this article, we take a look at How Escalator Branding Is Transforming OOH Design.
Escalator branding isn’t exactly new in and of itself, but it’s becoming increasingly popular, and designers are finding ways to use this unique medium as a vehicle for exploring all kinds of new creative avenues in their work. We thought we’d take a look at how escalator branding is transforming how we think about designing for OOHM.
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What is escalator branding?
But what do we actually mean when we say escalator branding? This isn’t always a clear-cut term in the industry, as there are technically a few different ways we can ‘brand’ an escalator. This can involve everything from printing and installing graphics on the side of the handrails, to the metal sides or even base of the escalator itself – but what we’re referring to when we say escalator branding is graphics printed on the steps themselves.
By printing graphics and installing them onto the front face of the individual steps, it’s possible to create large designs that emerge as the steps roll upwards, forming a cohesive whole when viewed in front of the escalator. This opens up all kinds of creative potential for designers and brands alike and is certainly shaking up the world of outdoor advertising. There are several reasons for this…
Escalator branding is shareable
Before the rise of digital, shareability would have exclusively referred to people telling their friends and family about something they’d seen. In fact, we wouldn’t have even used words like shareability at all. This is a phenomenon that owes itself almost entirely to the era of online connectivity, and it’s particularly relevant for escalator branding projects.
With our current ‘always on’ accessibility, it takes only a few seconds to share images or videos to platforms such as Instagram, and eye-catching or unusual outdoor advertisements are often the subject of these candid amateur photo shoots.
Standout escalator graphic projects generate a lot of social shares, which dramatically increases their overall visibility – which is already high due to the amount of footfall in the location. This ‘snowball effect’ means that these kinds of graphics can lead to some really high-profile exposure for your work.
A ‘moving’ format
One of the things that makes escalator graphics stand out when compared with other outdoor advertising formats is a simple fact that they move. While static advertisements, such as hoardings or billboards, can offer all kinds of creative potential, the fact that these graphics are designed to shift and change makes them particularly exciting.
It’s a nice contrast to the ever-present digital billboard screens that are becoming an increasingly familiar sight in urban environments. While these offer moving imagery, escalator graphics create something of an interesting balance between static imagery and animation in a physical way, that digital screens cannot.
Rethinking how static design can communicate a message
This format essentially forces designers to think differently about how static imagery can be used most effectively – designing what is essentially a flat, 2D image, that will be presented in motion once installed, creates a unique challenge – and opportunity – for designers to rethink how they communicate the message of their brief.
Usually, large format outdoor designs are fairly straightforward: the client provides a brief, and the designer creates an image that conveys the necessary message, in the required style. With escalator branding, however, that image needs to be designed in a long, thin format – with the motion of the steps, and the fact the graphics will loop around, in mind.
There are all kinds of ways this could be explored, from perspective ‘illusions’ that play on the fact that the graphics form a cohesive image when viewed front on to graphics that gradually reveal a story or ‘punch line’ as the escalator ascends or descends. This kind of visual storytelling is hard to achieve in other formats.
A fitting new challenge
There’s also an argument that simply by providing a new opportunity – and a new challenge – for graphic designers, escalator branding is helping to keep the industry on its toes. The design naturally moves through phases and trends, and stagnation is something we should always be cautious of.
With the arrival of new formats such as this, the opportunity for exploration and innovation isn’t something that designers need to generate themselves – it’s inherently tied into the media itself. While creativity will always be the realm of the design professional, having the opportunity to design for a new format is integral to the on-going success and development of the work graphic designers do. It encourages the development of new skills, and it inspires new generations to become involved in the industry.
Every once in a while, a format comes along that really shakes things up in the world of design, and escalator branding is no exception. While it has been around for a long time, with advances in large format print technology it’s becoming more commonplace – which is opening a host of creative avenues for professionals.
With our current era of moment-to-moment sharing, finding ways to communicate a branded message to the public in a way that will get them talking has become more and more important. Escalator branding ticks this box perfectly; as such, it’s likely to continue to thrive, and designers confident with the medium will find themselves in high demand.
We hope this article about How Escalator Branding Is Transforming OOH Design has been insightful and be sure to leave your comments below.
This post was contributed by Nigel Webster at PressOn, one of the UK’s leading providers of large format printing. PressOn work with designers throughout every phase of a project, to ensure the highest standard of work – whether that’s an enormous building wrap or a simple set of retail banners