I was recently walking the streets of Rome, Italy, and taken by the number of promotional stickers (adesivo pubblicitaro). Not stickers on cars, but stickers on buildings. Here’s a photo of a typical entry way of an apartment building you might see peppered with stickers.
Our source in Italy tell us these stickers are for all types of services like plumbing, shutters, movers and evictions. It is prevalent advertising due to it’s low cost, DIY nature, and ease of avoiding a required “local publicity tax”. Which sticker in the picture stands out for you? Who would you call for needed services?
Though the Italians are quite accustomed to graffiti it is still surprising to me that no one has a bigger problem with this advertising method or that the tax isn’t better enforced to cut down on the activity. But, the bigger surprise to me is that none of the companies puts any design effort into standing out from the crowd. Perhaps this is also due to the tax issue and drawing too much attention to an advertisement might not only attract viewers but the authorities as well?
Upon asking about the designs and there seeming similarity, our Rome contact commented, “it is not true that they are all equal. There are all sizes and colors.” So, whatever the reasons behind boring, rectangular, cookie cutter designs there would seem to be a huge opportunity for a business to have an effectively designed sticker dominate the landscape – perhaps even be worth paying taxes on.
You may not be a local Rome business but there are some lessons to be learned here on effective sticker design. If your business is unique and you want to stand out from the crowd, your stickers need to do the same thing. They are your calling card (as a side note, the business card designs in Rome are also very weak) – they reflect the personality (identity) of your business and are not just a listing in a directory.
And, if you are going to alter a landscape, illegally or not, with guerrilla sticker campaigns doesn’t it make more sense to connect, entertain, ask questions, make people think, and share a bit of your unique value? Good advertising needs to be a whole lot more than just showing up.