For the LOVE of Type

Times certainly have changed since Gutenberg’s days of one-typeface letterpress. With digital presses today, typography, the art of working with type, has become the unsung hero of all advertising, marketing, and branding endeavors. Type forms the skeletal structure of mass communication and without it we wouldn’t have nearly as much information as we do. Whether it’s a newspaper article, a favorite book, or an advertisement, type boldly, elegantly, simply, or playfully tells us what we should think about and how we should be thinking about it.

The way type communicates aesthetically is truly amazing. At first glance we should be able to determine the content of what we are looking at, which is especially important in logo design. For example, if the type is scripted or sans serif and thin we assume the brand to be elegant, sophisticated, and expensive. If the company actually sells children’s toys there is a discord in perception, which causes confusion among consumers. Bold, blocky fonts can communicate a look-here-now importance while brushy, marker-like fonts are kid friendly and “fun.” With thousands of fonts available to designers, as well as opportunities for designers to hand-create their own set of lettering for a specific client, choosing a font to match a logo design can be overwhelming.

We encounter elements of typography every day, taking for granted the perks of good design. When type is designed well we read it, comprehend it, and move on, rarely stopping to think about the design process behind communicating to a visual audience. More often we notice the poorly designed pieces, because they end up as examples of what not to do.

Here are some pointers to avoid common typography faux pas in advertising and branding:

    • Designer Chris Herron says it best as he reminds us that “The most important thing to keep in mind when designing with type is that its purpose is to communicate. It needs to be comprehended, usually quickly and easily.”
    • When selecting a typeface consider its relevance to the design concept, audience, context, and application.
    • In most cases when working with a decorative typeface a simpler, more legible font works better than a swanky, difficult-to-read one.
    • For facilitating reading in body copy avoid long line lengths, very small point sizes, and very open or very tight line spacing.
    • Typography choices in brand strategy are crucial. Once a typeface is selected, sticking with that look shows consumers a unified purpose and a solid core brand.

Above all, typography is a designer’s secret weapon. Please use type responsibly.

Some Inspiration: