Typography isn’t exactly the most talked about topic – in fact, unless you work in print, publishing or another text-based profession, it may be entirely unfamiliar.
But if you don’t yet know the difference between Times New Roman and Tahoma, or counters from crossbars, you might be amazed at the subtle yet powerful effect typographical techniques have on the way customers connect with you.
Typography literally allows you to paint with words – so reading this blog might fuel your watercooler conversations for weeks and help you find the ideal font for your brand.
So what exactly is Typography anyway?
Any technical term has a dictionary definition and a more practical hands-on explanation, so typography is no different:
- According to the Cambridge English Dictionary, typography is ‘the style and size of letters used in printing’.
- When it comes to your business branding, typography is the art of displaying text in a way that makes it interesting, legible and appropriate to the message it’s conveying to customers.
Getting to grips with these simple definitions is the gateway to all of the awesome advantages typography offers your brand.
Why should I care about typography?
Typology is omnipresent, so the impact this can have on your ability to communicate clearly can’t be underestimated.
Don’t believe us? This cringe-worthy collection of font faux pas from Vox provides prime evidence of illegible typefaces leading to a calamitous lack of clarity during illustrious occasions. And here are some more excruciating examples:
- Firstly, who could forget Warren Beatty reading out the wrong winner at the Oscars 2017 because of the confusing layout on the Academy’s cards?
- Steve Harvey followed suit by crowning the wrong Miss Universe in 2015.
- Possibly the most damaging error was in the 2000 US Presidential Election, when an estimated 2800 Floridians mistakenly voted against their preferred Presidential candidate Al Gore. The results from this state famously enabled George Bush Jr to win the election by only 537 votes – the confusing layout design of the butterfly ballot papers had genuine geopolitical consequences.
All of these incidents may have had very different outcomes – if only organisers had taken the appropriate time to consider the appropriate typography for the tasks.
How does typography enhance brand recognition?
If you want to enhance brand recognition, Typography is a great place to start because some of the most famous brands in the world capitalise on its potential to trigger empathy ,and engagement.
Yes, you’re reading this correctly – we strongly believe that text can make you feel a certain way, or at least give you an indication as to how you should feel.
And it’s not just us, because apart from the fact that big brands invest heavily in aligning text design with brand identity and messaging, studies from institutions such as MIT suggest a strong link between the aesthetics of typography and layout and positive emotions. But you’ll already be familiar with this concept from popular culture, as the following examples prove:
- Some of the most recognisable examples of this link come from film posters. In the same way that colours may be associated with an emotion, font and style can also do the same – for example, practically every comedy font will be big, bold, red and contrasted with a white background, because this combination chimes with a fun and simple experience. You’ll find it on posters for The Proposal, Shaun of the Dead, American Pie and many more movies.
- If horror is your bag, the chilling font of choice is almost always Trajan – its thin letters and sharp edges endow the posters for Sinister and A Nightmare on Elm Street with an eerie ambience.
- Don’t forget the iconic shiny, italicised, sharp-edged Sci-Fi fonts for franchises like Star Trek, Tron, Hunger Games and Looper. Without even considering what the words are saying, the emotions which these fonts trigger are obvious – fear and terror for the former and star-bound shenanigans for the latter.
So if you’re stuck getting started thinking about typography, the trademark typefaces of your favourite film or TV franchises should stimulate your imagination.
What’s the best typography for my brand?
While your brand might not be involved in giving people goose bumps or creating visions of interplanetary civilisations, aligning your typography perfectly with your particular line of business can have a powerful and persuasive effect on customers, so it’s a discipline definitely worth getting to grips with – the following tips should get you started:
- If you’re positioning your brand as chic and modern, Century Gothic or Futura fonts may be your best option.
- Baskerville Old Face might be better if you’re a heritage brand, because it implies trust and reliability.
- If you’re focusing on style and elegance, Lavanderia and Bickham scripts hit the mark marvellously.
Experimenting with different fonts can help to create a more cohesive brand message and subtly set the tone for the type of quality service your customers should expect.
How does typography tie in with my Website Design?
Despite the prevalence of different types of visuals and content, web design is 95% typography –
so font deftly combines with formatting and the words themselves to line all your voice, tone and style ducks up in a row and deliver your message with resonance. Let’s take a deeper dive:
- As previously mentioned, a muddled layout can have some mind-blowing consequences and this also holds true for the formatting of your website pages – they should be arranged in a way that’s optimised for SEO, with title tags, keywords and the most important information foregrounded.
- But as well as these technical elements keeping Google search spiders happy, your professionally-written content will have a voice, tone and style that creates an engaging user experience for readers and, as we’ve discussed, the type of typography you choose should complement this like strawberries and champagne.
So combine terrific technical SEO, professional copywriting and terrific typography, and all of your content becomes a triple-threat to less switched-on competitors.
How do I use typography with printed materials?
To keep your branding consistent, your signature typography should permeate all of your products, from billboards to newspaper ads and bottles to beer mats. Here are some tips:
- While you’ll change the tone of the message you deliver depending on the circumstance, typography, like voice, should remain the same.
- Consistent typography combinations mean customers instinctively know who they’re dealing with each time they encounter you – and all of the associated emotions of trust, reliability, fun and flair are triggered instantly.
Typography – final takeaways
If you’re not yet convinced of the power of combining the correct letters, words and colours to amazing effect, check out Paula Scher’s portfolio – she’s perhaps elevated typography to an art form more than any other professional.
It’s evident that nailing down typography is an essential part of building a recognisable brand – so between Arial and Zakenstein, you’re sure to have fun finding a font that’s just your type.