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Folk signage: a subtle art of micro-branding

"Subtle Folk Signage"
“Subtle Folk Signage”

Elizabeth Goodspeed, a passionate American editor and graphic design enthusiast, recently shared her admiration for ‘folk’ signs witnessed on her travels throughout Italy. She observed a range of styles, including intricate iron signs, mosaic-tiled letterings, hand-painted figures, and striking calligraphy adorning local businesses.

Intrigued by their historical significance tied to the trade guilds of the Middle Ages, she discovered a unique fusion of functionality and artistry that represented the essence of each local business.

Goodspeed argued that each sign served a greater purpose: to communicate the brand’s message in a tangible way, beyond the scope of traditional advertising. These signs, she noted, were not just a form of visual communication, but also reflected the individual approaches taken by businesses to engage potential customers.

She further acknowledged that other designers might share her fascination for this traditional form of visual narrative. She called this phenomenon ‘micro-branding’, a concept where each sign communicates a unique narrative personifying brand identity within confined spaces.

Folk signage: enhancing micro-branding appeal

Goodspeed’s fascination with signs is deeply rooted in her childhood where observing different signs during family road trips became an enjoyable pastime. This interest eventually evolved into a lifelong passion, leading her to delve deeper into the realm of visual communication through signs.

She asserts that travelling can fundamentally transform our perception of mundane objects into intriguing elements. In an unfamiliar setting, signs become a form of artwork, pushing observers to appreciate their aesthetic features like shapes and layout, and often resulting in a fresh design perspective.

In Goodspeed’s viewpoint, ‘folk’ signage is a crucial yet underappreciated genre in the world of design. Not only serving as communication mediums, these signs also prompt unexpected design inquiries within their finite space and inspire renewed interest in our everyday surroundings. She fervently advocates for the importance and relevance of this traditional means of branding and communication in today’s progressively digital world.

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