What’s your type?

posted in: Reverse View | 0

What’s your type?

Choosing typefaces. A couple of questions that people have asked me:

1) What’s that got to do with my company’s identity?
A lot.
2) Can it influence how people see it?
Yes, definitely.

With thousands of potential fonts to choose from, it can’t just be a case of personal preference. The choice of fonts for a particular business or organisation can have a profound effect on how the outside world sees it.

Not convinced? Try this. A few years ago, Marks and Spencer changed their typeface? Did you notice? Does it change your impression of the company? Does it appear friendlier? More modern?

Marks and Spencer shop front: old logo

Marks and Spencer shop front: new logo

Let’s think about this from a personal perspective. Imagine that you own a high tech software company, that produces products that make a positive difference to the lives of working people. These products save money for employers and time for their employees, giving them the chance to spend less time chained to a desk, and more time with their families and loved ones. In this instance, you have some choices to make. Should the company communicate the human side of what it does as a people-to-people business, or is it about the cleverness of the software? In other words, is a warmer impression closer to the mark, or is a colder, more hard-edged feel more appropriate?

'Technology'. The word written in four different typefaces, to show the effect of font on personality and feel.

In this position, no answer is ‘wrong’. However, I’m sure you can see the need to give the font question, and that of text arrangement (typography), some serious thought. It lies at the heart of that ‘recognisable and distinctive communications language’ that all companies and organisations, both large and small, strive for. In various degrees, all fonts have a character. In combination with the words that they are used to create, fonts can communicate a particular attitude, or tone of voice.

The Economist magazine ad posters from the 1990s are an interesting example of typography or text-led brand identity. They were defined by the cleverness of the text messages and the consistent use of the brand’s bright red colour.

The Economist: 'Gymnasium for the mind' advert

So, when considering how to create or reinvigorate a brand identity, don’t forget to carefully consider your choice of typeface. It’s your chance to give your business a look, feel and communications language that resonates with audiences, and that the competition can’t match.

Have you seen #ReverseDesignTip on Twitter? It’s an occasional series of short blog posts on improving design and marketing communications. It is aimed at SMEs, graphic design students and marketing professionals – anyone interested in making communications work better and look good.

See also:
What does typography say about your brand? (Turnaround Design)
How to Find or Create Your Brand Personality (Design Shack)