Thursday, February 28, 2013

Like the Sans of Time: The Importance of Font Selection

To most people, fonts are just another useless choice in their Word document, 'gimme a default typeface and let me type'. To designers however, fonts are an integral element in communicating ideas and emotions.

There are thousands of fonts, thousands of beautifully created fonts, each designed with a feeling or purpose in mind - some are very versatile and some are very pointed as to their use. When a typeface is used in design, an association is made by the consumer on the look of the product or brand and how it makes them feel about it. Consumers when presented with a consistent looking visual that is associated with a brand will come to remember it and the feelings they have of that brand will be rekindled, in some small way.

 The image above contains 9 words all with different word marks. Most of these word marks have been derived from actual fonts and then modified by a graphic designer to better suit the brand and what it represents. What's cool about this, is that without even saying the brand (or band) names on this document, most people could tell you the names of all 9 brands represented here.

If this does not demonstrate the importance of proper font selection and graphic design as part of brand building, I don't know what does. A good graphic designer should take great care and spend a good amount of time in learning about your brand and what it represents in order to craft a word mark or logo.

One of the first things that a designer will do is select the fonts to be used on the project (for use in logo, stationery, packaging etc.) this can take several hours to select the right fonts for each of these.  The result of this meticulous time in font selection, is an effective part of your communications strategy - putting across information is important, but good design and proper font selection can associate emotions to that information.

Graphic designers are trained to communicate ideas and information in a visual way, utilizing fonts is part of this process.

So, please remember this the next time a designer presents you with a design or word mark for review; ask them to explain why they chose the one they did - you may be surprised what went into their descision. As a client, you should challenge the rationale behind the design to ensure the designer really understands what he/she is communicating - with a professional creative team and good creative direction, a design is rarely wrong unless the rationale and understanding of what needs to be communicated behind it is wrong.

Bottomline: A well crafted brand comes from understanding the customer then taking the time to ensure all visual elements align with what needs to be communicated.

Please note that I found the image above online and it appears to be credited to Headlineshirts.net, however, I left the file name intact so that whoever put it together can find it on my blog and request proper credit.

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