Like many small businesses during the pandemic, I have been working to find ways to promote my products. I design and hand make custom shoes for women under the name RoxAnneLava. To help my search, I’ve looked to commercial storefronts and considered how I can adapt commercial marketing methods to my business using my residential home front.
A key tool retailers have is one of the oldest marketing products ever used, the sign. Humans have used signs since we began providing products and services. The businesses needed to make their business visible to their customers and a sign immediately identified the product for sale. Think beer mug for a pub or a pizza for a pizza parlor or food for a restaurant. It is no different today. A sign is often the first marketing touch point with consumers.
The earliest form of signage was symbolic. Rudimentary symbols were used to indicate that an individual had a product or service to exchange or sell. By as early as 3000 BC, trade was developing and tradesmen needed a fixed location from which to sell. They generally installed an identifying symbol, or insignia to mark their place of business.
As the Greeks and Romans continued to develop commerce, we see the birth of the modern sign. Generally made of stone, terracotta, wood, leather or metal, specific symbols developed into a visual language that identified businesses by classification, for example a tavern.
As commerce expanded after the Dark Ages, the need for “trade” signs increased. By the 17th century, English law required each craftsman or tradesman to exhibit a sign that identified the products and services they provided. Soon enough the utilitarian signs became more elaborate with each business establishing a unique visual to differentiate their business from the pack. Signs remained visual, as most people still were unable to read. This is the beginning of the logo and dare I say it – Branding.
As outdoor signs became more elaborate and heavy, they became dangerous hanging over the street. Tragic accidents occurred on the crowded urban streets below, necessitating ordinances that were created to limit the size, weight, placement and extension of these signs. AND now we arrive at my conundrum. Sign ordinances exist today and they are very specific in terms of commercial and residential usage.
A commercial sign is not allowed on a residential home, but I am allowed to decorate my home front. I can do window, door and stoop displays and I do. Sadly my window is not easily seen from the street. It is high up and hidden behind a tree. But my steps and door are primary real estate, easily seen from the street.
The digital age has given us a new set of tools, but often the traditional methods are still effective. My plan is to create “signage” within the vocabulary of acceptable residential home decoration. This spring and summer, I’ve been playing with bunting for my step rail, ornaments for my tree, and most recently the wreath.
The wreath you see here is eye-catching, colorful and fun, key elements in getting passers by to stop for a closer look. It is a good size to display a message. In terms of my brand, the elements are sandals, a product I make. Sandals on the wreath are made from up-cycled materials, a core characteristic of my brand. These particular materials are connected to life in the time of COVID, featuring bubble packs from Amazon and re-usable bags from Fresh Direct deliveries. They are perfect for a wreath that is subject to all sorts of weather. The wreath was designed to be on my step rail and it will be there in the near future, but for now it sits on my door.
As my projects progress, I will include more sophisticated, yet understated promotion of my brand while still keeping to the residential language. I’m excited to get started. Visual display is very me. Follow my journey on Instagram: @roxannelavarox