We all know the importance of a well-defined, thoughtful, and distinct brand identity. Startups like Harry’s, General Assembly, Quirky, Squarespace, Warby Parker, and Uber have proven that prioritizing design to craft a unique look and feel can go a long way. Successful branding efforts like these have the power to build relationships with customers, yielding social shares, loyalty, and longevity. While a logo is generally considered the most important facet of a brand identity, a strong typographic language is vital in establishing and nurturing those relationships.
When a brand speaks to its audience – through its product, website, advertisements, email campaigns, print collateral, etc. – copy is the conversation’s vocabulary but more importantly, typography is the tone of voice. When it comes to type, details make all the difference. Subtleties in various typefaces’ letterforms convey different tones that unconsciously trigger reactions, feelings, and emotions in the audience and should never be overlooked.
Looking at the websites of some of the aforementioned brands, it’s clear the type was thoughtfully considered, resulting in a memorable interaction with the brand.
How Font Influences Emotions
The importance of typography is also evident in a clever experiment by Errol Morris of The New York Times, where online readers were presented with an article inconspicuously titled “Are You an Optimist or a Pessimist?” The piece discussed the probability of an apocalyptic asteroid collision and stated that we are living in an era of unprecedented safety. Readers were asked to agree or disagree with this statement and rate the level of confidence in their opinion. Little did they know, there was an ulterior motive behind Morris’ survey. He incorporated a program into the backend of the article that allowed each participant to read it in one of six randomly selected fonts: Baskerville, Comic Sans, Computer Modern, Georgia, Helvetica, and Trebuchet. The end goal: to determine if some typefaces feel more credible than others.
Baskerville, a serif face originally designed in the mid-1700s, was the most trusted typeface in the experiment, leading the group by 1.5%. Even more surprisingly, there was a significant decrease in the confidence of readers’ responses to the blurb when it was set in Georgia, a very similar serif font that features more condensed letterforms and a taller x-height. The devil is truly in the details.
Prenton for President
Type plays a huge role here at NewsCred. Since the company’s founding, Lexia served as our headline face and therefore set the tone of visual conversations with our customers. As part of our recent brand refresh, however, we sought a new headline font that spoke to our audience in a softer, friendlier, and more approachable tone. The search was on.
The designers sat down to carefully sift through Typekit’s library together. After analysis and harsh criticism of countless faces, we selected four that fit the bill: Effra, Soleil, Tisa, and our immediate favorite, Prenton. The oversized comma, horizontal ear of the lower case g, and sharp-angled ascender in the lower case “t” were examples of subtle characteristics that gave it its personality. It was exactly what we were looking for – casual and quirky, yet professional and unpretentious. It was fresh, beautiful, and best of all – it was unique to us. We knew Prenton would evoke positive feelings from whoever read it and we were pumped to put it to good use.
Over the last few months, we have been phasing out Lexia and introducing Prenton in our online presence and printed collateral. So far the response has been very positive, both internally and externally, and we are confident it will hold steady as we roll out future assets.
Just Your Type
Choosing a typeface to represent your company’s identity is no easy task. With almost 1,000 faces on Typekit alone, it’s easy to select a popular font because the risk is low – it’s already been proven by someone else to work well in many scenarios. But it’s important to remember how a typeface speaks to its audience and what it says about your brand. Implementing a type system your brand can call its own is invaluable –it allows you to differentiate yourself and emerge from the crowd of competitors as a unique player in the game; one that truly values design and isn’t afraid to push the envelope.
Jeremy Ford is a Web and Communication Designer at NewsCred