Why Type Matters:
The Power of Fonts in Business
By Mike Hamers, Lightspeed – Edited by Kris Green, Turn Words 2 Money
We are all mass consumers of fonts. They play a vital role in our everyday lives. Fonts help us with our navigation, they help us make choices, influence our attitudes, and even keep us safe.
Fonts Turn Words into Stories that Influence.
Fonts shout out their own personality and individuality. Well-chosen typefaces help tell the stories of what you are going to find when you open the package. Fonts can literally transform the very meaning of a word.
The style you use helps to:
Tell the back story of the product through previous associations
Add personality and style to the words when branding
Influence the readability, assimilation, interpretation, and impact of your words
and the concepts they represent.
Create an expectation of the product or experience
Alter your reader’s experience and
Can literally influence your thinking (even into believing that a food is saltier, or
crunchier, or spicer (as shown in actual food/font test results) for example.
Fonts Are What Language Looks Like.
Selecting a font is like getting dressed. Just as one chooses an outfit according to the occasion, one decides on a font according to the kind of message you are seeking to convey. A good typeface creates an emotional response in relation to the message it is conveying. You're trying to get that tone of voice right – you can shout or whisper. There's no limit to the emotional range a typeface can reflect. Typography is so closely associated with language you can use fonts to express irony or compassion and get a whole complexity of emotion into your message by using fonts correctly.
Typefaces are Now 560 Years Old.
Today there are more than 200,000 commercial fonts avaialble. Before the Mac, early computers offered only one dull typeface (dot matrix). For any variety, you had to head for your highly-esteemed IBM Selectric typewriter that featured changeable type balls.
One of Steve Jobs' greatest contributions to improving better communications was his offering of a variety of stylized font choices accessible through the elegant addition of pull-down menus on Apple computers.
Jobs was awakened to the power of typography when he took a calligraphy class at Reed College in Portland, OR. “I learned about serif and sans-serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great,” he said in his 2005 commencement address at Stanford. “It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can't capture, and I found it fascinating.”
Why the Typeface You Select or Custom Create Matters
Typeface is a visual language all its own. A typeface acts as a mental shorthand, creating an emotional reaction just by how it looks. What a font looks like changes the emotion of the words you use. Typefaces can express our individuality; for example, think of the distinctive “Disney” typeface. Just seeing the unique swirls and flourishes creates a sense of joy and optimism with a chidlike simplicity. Imagine if we all used the same font, how much more boring written communications would be.
A well-created typeface is often something you hardly notice. Fonts can either enhance your message or get in the way of your message. When your message is written in a font that is difficult to read, you mayl lose readers. That can result in fewer clients and fewer sales. Typeface matters, in print and on computer monitors. The impression created by a typeface can also be affected by font size and color. There are many variables. Ultimately, the font selected either enhances your message or detracts from your message.
Serif vs. Sans-Serif Fonts: Which is Really Better?
Current research proves that Serif fonts (like Times Roman, Garamond, Palatino and Bodini) are easiest to read IN PRINT. Therefore, Serif fonts are often used in books, newspapers and magazines. On the other hand, Sans-serif fonts (those without the “horizontal feet”) are much easier to read ON SCREEN. Therefore, when placing font on websites use a Sans-serif font such as Arial, Helvetica, Verdana and Futura to make reading easier for your viewers. Sans-serif fonts work best on monitors because of pixel-screen resolution limitations, especially with small type sizes.
Real ROI for Custom Font Decision when Branding
Unique but consistent typefaces can be a crucial element of corporate branding.
For example, the fonts used by IBM, Mercedes, Nivea, and Marlboro are instantly recognizable internationally. Such powerful recognition shows that the significant investment by companies in design and copyright of trademarked fonts can be worthwhile.
One example of how investing in a font (and logo design) has paid off handsomely is the Nivea skin care company. Nivea claims their re-design of the Nivea Bold font has effectively embodied their brand’s “pure and simple” product philosophy. They link the font directly to their increased profitability and to Nivea’s product category worldwide market share of 35%!
Another example is White Mountain Footwear. They invested substantial money into the re-design of their 21-year-old typeface to update their typeface to better reflect the company’s mission. They saw a 20% increase in sales in both the first and second years following the re-design. A spokesman for the company stated the redesign of their font’s impact was “nothing short of miraculous”.
Just Your Type
Anything that makes you look at the type, and therefore the message works when designing a typeface solution. For business, the key to the successful use of typography is selecting typefaces appropriate to your product or business.
Steve Jobs liberated the inner graphics artist in all of us with his pull-down menu of font selections. However, should businesses exercise that ability and go it alone when it comes to typeface design decisions? Ultimately, font choice is a marketing tool and becomes an important business decision that can affect how well a product or company is perceived and received.
Existing or Custom — What is Best for Your Business
There are many very functional typefaces available at the touch of a finger now. To get started, you can choose an existing Serif font for your printed material, and a compatible Sans-Serif font for your online presence. That may work for you. Or perhaps your business is better served by bringing a professional graphic designer to keep your brand message consistent. Either way, the fonts you select affect how your business is seen in your community.
Are you Starting a Business or Repositioning One?
Whether you are a startup business needing your first logo — or feeling out-of-date and needing a facelift — or merging two businesses and needing a logo that satisfies the branding needs of the new enterprise, I can design an inspired logo and visual branding identity to help your business grow and thrive. With over 35 years in the business I have helped launch scores of business and products into the competitive world arena. Call me to see how I can help you get noticed, get remembered, and get results. –– Mike
ABOUT MIKE HAMERS
Mike Hamers is an award-winning graphic designer, illustrator and author who lives and works in Niwot, CO. He has been the owner of Lightspeed Design for 23 years. During that time he has won over 20 national and international awards for his logo designs, stationery, packaging, book cover and font designs.
Mike has had his illustrations in Wired magazine and brochure design work in "The Little Book of Layouts: Good Design and Why It Works". Mike enjoys working with all sizes of companies – from solopreneur's startups to large national companies. His broad experience crosses most industries including bio- and nano-science, biomedical devices, technology and manufacturing, software, foodservice, and more. Mike's comprehensive design and illustration portfolio is viewable at http://www.Lightspeedca.net.
So what is your logo saying about your brand?
Is the color you are using sending the message you want sent?
Consider and, if necessary, rethink your identity, brand, and values, and then select colors to convey those attributes. With a color palette that evokes your brand's true DNA, your marketing can achieve greater success.
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