October 12, 2018
Digital Signage Strategy

Digital Content Strategies to Engage the Subconscious

Want to Enchant Your Audiences With Digital Signage?

Each second, the brains processes 11 million bits of sensory information, but only one hundred of those bits reach our conscious minds. What handles the rest? The mysterious subconscious mind. In fact, 95% of our thoughts and emotions occur in the subconscious long before we are ever aware of them says Roger Dooley, author of Brainfluence

That means that the subconscious is responsible for almost everything we think and feel, including what we buy. Caroline Winnett and Andrew Pohlmann of The Nielsen Company found that 90% of purchasing decisions are made subconsciously. 

Obviously, negative emotions greatly impact the decision making process, and most digital marketers know how to avoid triggering them. But how do we harness the power of this part of the brain to make our audiences feel positive emotions? This first step is to understand the subconscious mind

The Three Minds and Digital Signs

Let’s discuss the three minds of our audiences. They have a huge impact on how we digest communications. The three minds work in combination to make up our thoughts and actions. 

Digital signage has the ability to tap into the deeper levels of consciousness. By displaying attractive, repetitive, and dynamic content, messages are embedded into the viewer’s subconscious mind. The medium is more effective than email and poster communications.


Your Conscious Mind

What’s in front of you? Is the temperature of the room too cold? Are you still recovering from the frantic commute to work this morning? These are the mental functions of the conscious mind. 

Your conscious mind is that voice in your head that handles your present awareness-- the in the moment thoughts. You’re no stranger to this voice and its opinions. It has been interpreting the data given to you in real time for your entire life.

That means that the subconscious is responsible for almost everything we think and feel, including what we buy. Caroline Winnett and Andrew Pohlmann of The Nielsen Company found that 90% of purchasing decisions are made subconsciously. 

Yet so many advertisements try to appeal to the conscious mind by implying “savings” or “exclusivity.” How can marketers rework their content to address this powerful, underlying portion of the brain? This first step is to understand the subconscious mind. 


Your Unconscious Mind

The Unconscious Mind is as mysterious as it sounds and is often the area that psychologists are interested in the most. Your unconscious mind is made up of your long-term memory storage, as well as your instincts and drives. 

It contains all of the mental programs that you’ve had since birth. Your behaviors are based off of the patterns and beliefs stored in the unconscious mind. 

The unconscious mind is constantly communicating with the conscious mind through your subconscious mind. These communications come in the form of feelings, emotions, and dreams.

The Power of Your Subconscious Mind

Now think back to your first day of kindergarten. You’ve just accessed your subconscious mind; the bank of recallable information (frequently used phone numbers, song lyrics, book titles.)

These memories are not constantly on your “front burner,” but when you wish to think about them, your subconscious brings them forward. Your subconscious mind is also responsible for literally taking the wheel and driving for you when your conscious mind is occupying your attention. 

For instance, you don’t have to concentrate on each street name during your daily commute to work. That’s because you have memorized your commute, and sadly, have better things to think about than each twist and turn in the road.

The subconscious mind is an infinitely vast storage space of everything we see, hear, and experience. 

When the conscious mind cannot process all of the information in a given situation, the subconscious takes over. Sometimes the subconscious tries to give the conscious mind clues about the current situation in the form of instinct. 

We’ve all experienced the sense that “something didn’t feel right,” but we weren’t sure why- that was our subconscious communicating with our consciousness. Transversely, the subconscious mind can evoke positive emotional responses in us based on reason we don’t realize.

Positive emotions don’t always have to mean elation. Trust, appreciation, and freedom are all sensations that we must feel to prosper, yet these are hardest to invoke en masse. (We’ll get into this later in the blog, so keep reading!)

Another important factor to consider is that the subconscious mind cannot tell the difference between what is real and what is imagined. For instance, when you are watching a scary movie, you might actually feel fear even though you know that it is just a movie. That’s because the subconscious mind is taking the scenarios of the movie literally. 



5 Steps to Digitally Engage the Subconscious Mind 

So let’s cut to the chase; what’s the trick? To engage with the subconscious minds of your audience, you have to broadcast content that invokes their emotions when they’re most vulnerable. 

To break this down, you have to personally relate to your audience, (through socially relevant topics) when they’re not distracted, and via a medium that they trust for guidance. 

The idea is to subtly evoke an emotion in your viewers without them consciously realizing it. In other words, they should not realize what is making them feel nostalgic or satisfied.

As soon as you hit them over the head with your intentions, they’ll see you as (I hate the term) pathetic. Ouch. 

Taking time to strategize toward the subconscious mind can truly make or break your brand! It’s the difference between the greasy used car salesman scheming his way to the bank and the caring grandfather that wants you to drive a safe vehicle that won’t break down in three years.

1. Get Them When They’re in Their  Vulnerable States

The first step in digital communication is to get your audience to pay attention to your message! In the workplace, chances are employees thinking about projects, client needs, or food. Your consumers are focused on money, text messages, and food. 

To break their concentration from the business of these thoughts, don’t add strobe lights or loud music! That will cause them to actively avoid your efforts. Instead, you need to grab them when they are vulnerable. 

When they’re walking to or from the bathroom, waiting for an elevator, or in a check-out line they will likely be most vulnerable and subconsciously available. 


2. Use Visual Components to Attract and Inspire

The esthetics of the content, before the message is even read, has a profound impact on viewer engagement. The font, imagery, and colors of the digital content travel through the subconscious where they can either induce or deter the desired behavior. 

According to the University of Loyola, Maryland, color increases brand recognition by 80%. In the book Inspire Action, we explain what colors have been determined to strike certain emotions. Shapes also impact us without our awareness. 

Colorful, bright, moving images are rudimentary ways of attracting attention. With digital signage, messages are delivered via moving images and visually appealing designs. The trick here is to use the right mixture.

You don’t have to stick to your logo or branding colors for your important messages. No, really, it’s okay to leave them behind! If you don’t use proper color theory, you can be greatly taking away from the impact of your content. 

For instance, red and orange are good for emergency alerts because they invoke a primal unrest, while light blue is calms chaotic energies, so it would work well for an inspirational campaign. 


3. Stay Away From Static Content

Remember how we said don’t be obnoxious? That goes for this step especially. You don’t need everything on the screen to move just because we found that motion is a critical component of engagement 

An RSS ticket, for instance, counts as movement. So does a very subtle zoom on a picture. The point is to have just enough motion that it catches the eye of someone around the screen. 


4. Build Trust with Core Components

Unlike your daily commute, digital signage content should be “constantly changing” to keep viewers habitually coming back for more.

Always show the time. There’s no reason to not have a clock on your screens. Phones and watches can run out of charge, and when that happens- your signage will be a saving grace. 

Add a current weather widget. These components build trust with your audience as they begin to relate to your screens as a resource of updated information. Subconsciously, the signs become an important platform of truth for them.


5. Give Dynamic Content a Turn in the Spotlight

As in, be sure you’re not only posting your own messages. Think about it, who are the worst people to talk to? People who only talk about themselves! Conversation-domination is a big no-no in digital communication as well. 

You might ask: “If I don’t them over the head with it, they’ll never get the message!” To combat this, we simply shorten the most important messages and repeat them often while sprinkling in interesting messages throughout.

Repetition takes messages and images that would tossed to the forgotten bin, and places them in the subconscious mind. There, the messages can easily transfer to the conscious mind, thus remembered.

Adding socially relevant content, which can be curated from social media or news publications (etc.), in between your campaigns is an easy way to personally connect with your audience. 

While making the important messages repetitive, users can switch up the look and composition of the slides, so viewers think they are seeing a new piece of content.


Jedi mind tricks are real. Well, sort of. The subconscious mind is 5 times more powerful than the conscious mind. Digital signage users can now harness the factors that positively affect the subconscious minds of their viewers by adopting one or more of our content programs. 

Viewers with an emotional connection to your content will be more inclined to be repeat customers. Just as theatrical trailers invoke an urge to see a movie, your content will inspire viewers to act on your messages painlessly!