Feb 24th 2010
Typography: The Clothes Your Brand Wears to Work
If you had to wear only one set of clothing to work every day for the rest of your life, how much time would you spend considering what you are going to wear? You might take some time to ask a few questions. Is this suit still going to hold up for another 20 years? Are these heels still going to be cute and comfortable in 2019?
The typeface you choose to express your content might best be thought of as the clothes your company's message wears to work. And in the advertising world, this means never changing your clothes. Or taking them off. Ever.
Think of today's most successful advertising campaigns like 'Got Milk' and 'Hi, I'm a Mac.' Or check out a National Geographic, Time, or New York Times from 50 years ago and see for yourself: the best branding in the world generally uses one typeface to house their messages for decades at a time.
This is not by happenstance. These businesses planned the use of a specific typeface for carefully considered reasons. How could they be sure their typeface would still be in style in 50 years? How could they know for certain the font family would be capable of handling every application they would need it for? They asked themselves these questions and hundreds more before making a final decision.
The decision of which typeface to use is such an important and treacherous one that our suggestion when choosing a font is to let your favorite design agency (that would be Doc4 Design) help you with your decision. But if you choose to venture down this shaky road alone, please, for the sake of good design the world over, consider the following issues with choosing a typeface.
First and foremost are a few crucial marketing rules: a company's image should always be as focused, differentiated, and unique as possible. One of many problems with font families from a word processing pull-down menu (e.g. Papyrus, Trajan, Optima, Comic Sans, etc.) is that each one is used for literally hundreds of thousands of applications, quite a few of which having nothing to do with your business. The message communicated with these typefaces, no matter how well intentioned, will never be focused.
Take Papyrus: it is plastered on everything from Yoga studios to fabric stores. Papyrus will not communicate that a spa is posh or that a salon is swanky. It will mainly communicate that the business is no different from places where potential clients already spend their money.
And it is not just about durability and style. Remember what Mom said about not having a second chance to make a good first impression? Often the very first interaction a customer has with a company is the reading of a typographic message. Whether it is a national advertisement or the sign hanging on the front door, this initial edge of interaction is an important opportunity to manipulate your image in a subtle but engaging manner.
While this subtlety of type makes it easy to abuse, it simultaneously provides type with its most important opportunity for design success. It is a chance to set yourself apart from the competition in such a way that clients will literally feel your message, not just read it. Maybe it's time to take a look at the clothes your company's message is wearing and ask if your brand could use a new wardrobe.