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What Does Your Font Say: Types Essential Role in Graphic Design

Date 03 December, 2014

What Does Your Font Say: Types Essential Role in Graphic Design

Fonts are big business, who would have thought? Why do you think Coca Cola and Pepsi never change their fonts even through brand refreshes?
When setting up a business or considering your current brand’s creative design give your font some considered thought. Fonts have characteristics that evoke a vast range of physical, emotional and mental responses that can impact on people’s perspective of your company. Look at the (fictitious) company name below:


OK, I made this one easy for you. The first font (Handwriting Dakota) is a free flowing, script font which comes pretty standard on most Mac’s and PC’s. While it’s a lovely font it doesn’t quite represent the strength and conviction one would think a stockbroking firm should have. The second font (Arial Black) is much better for this purpose, it’s bold, thick letters imply solidarity which inspires confidence and conveys a trustworthy organisation to invest your money with. The final font is a custom designed font (A Love of Giants), very similar to Arial Black but has the added benefit of incorporating more complex and developed meanings into the brand. Don’t believe me? Do an experiment with your colleague, show them the different fonts and ask them what they think each one communicates. You’ll be amazed at how many people have an opinion that they didn’t even realise they had.

Additionally different fonts attract different customers. If you’re a stockbroking agent and want serious investors calling you then definitely choose a font that will attract that kind of person.

If you want to get REALLY professional you can have an exclusive font created for you (and Trademarked) by a creative agency.

Are you ready to get technical?

Not only do fonts evoke subconscious responses they are also designed to work best on screen or for print. If your brain has to work harder to read something because the font on screen is actually best suited to printed material, your audience may unknowingly become irritated, bored or distrustful … or simply move to a competitor’s webpage that is easier to read.

Why would a font be better in print than on screen, you ask?

The reason is that anything printed is often a higher resolution than what you see on screen. This means that minor variations in a letter that make it more distinguishable from its alphabet kin are easier to read. In contrast, letters that have a uniform thickness are easier to see on screen because of the lower resolution, there is no detail to lose and your eyes can follow it easily.

A great example to illustrate this point is the differences between Times New Roman and Arial. Times New Roman is what is known as a Serif font because it has the little ‘feet’ at the end of the letter strokes. This detail makes reading easier when applied to a printed format and can also evoke a sense of elegance and conviction to the text. Serif fonts are often lost on a low resolution screen making reading harder. Arial is known as a Sans Serif typeface, and as you can see on the right of the illustration below, it is more block-like and easier to read on screen.


An important part of graphic design is getting the right font for your company. If you understand the importance of this but find the process daunting, you can commission a creative agency to choose one for you.

Here’s the practical stuff

When considering what font to use for your business spend some time answering the following questions:

• What three words could be used to describe my business?
• What demographic do my clients fit in to?
• What font/s would best fit the above description and client demographic?
• Will that/those fonts be good for both print and screen or would I need two differing fonts to fit each purpose?
• Can I live with my chosen font for the life of my business, or at least for an extended time frame?

A small investment answering these questions has the added benefit of helping you to understand your brand identity better and even enhance your next marketing campaign.

Oh good, you’re still reading. In that case if you have some time, check out this interesting Business Week article entitled ‘Font War: Inside the Design Worlds twenty Million Dollar Divorce’

For 15 years, Frere-Jones and Hoefler seemed charmed. They made typefaces that rendered the stock charts in the Wall Street Journal readable and helped Martha Stewart sell cookbooks. They created an alphabet for the New York Jets, based on the team’s logo. And they saw their lettering chiseled into stone as part of the rebuilding of the World Trade Center. Last year, the duo won the AIGA Medal, the profession’s highest award. It seemed to be one of those rare situations whereby two successful soloists had combined to make an even better supergroup. Hoefler was asked if there were any troubles in their working relationship for a video produced for the AIGA in 2013. “We do have a longstanding disagreement over the height of the lower case t,” he said. “That is the only point of contention.”

Not quite. In January, Frere-Jones filed a lawsuit against Hoefler, saying that their company was not actually a partnership, but a long con in which Hoefler had tricked him into signing over the rights to all of his work, cheating Frere-Jones out of his half of the business. “In the most profound treachery and sustained exploitation of friendship, trust and confidence, Hoefler accepted all the benefits provided by Frere-Jones while repeatedly promising Frere-Jones that he would give him the agreed equity, only to refuse to do so when finally demanded,” the complaint charges. Frere-Jones is asking a court to grant him $20 million. Hoefler won’t comment on the suit directly, but the day after it was filed a lawyer for the company issued a brief statement disputing the claims, which, it said, “are false and without legal merit.” (About Gotham’s creation, Hoefler writes in an email: “No one is disputing Tobias’s role in those projects, or my own, for that matter. [Our] typefaces have had a lot of other contributors, as well — everything we do here is a team effort.”) According to the company statement, Frere-Jones was not Hoefler’s partner but a “longtime employee.”

Source: Businessweek

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