Font selection is one of those aspects of design that many seem to take for granted. As someone who has an innate love for words and letters, typography has always fascinated me. Good typography is a great marrying of design and storytelling, in a manner quite different from purely visual design.
Way back in the mid 1400s, Johannes Gutenberg created the world’s first printing press. In 2007 I had the opportunity to view one of these old presses for the first time. I could not help but stop and stare at its mechanisms, its crudity. It enthralled me. While others quickly moved on to other objects and artefacts in the museum, I stood mesmerized by the press, taking in the scope of its history and what it represents. The impact of text on human culture has not diminished over time. This impact stretches to use of text in the design world. Humanity has always had art, but the accessibility of printed text dramatically changed civilization.
The art of typography for design has become something I am drawn to almost in spite of myself; typography speaks to something quite powerful about human history and the development of modern society. Printed words put intellect and ideas in the hands of the common people. This is why typography should not be taken lightly as part of the design process. Great typography can sometimes evoke even more emotion than a great photo or piece of design artwork on its own. Typography has a strong role to play in good logo design. Letters and words naturally tell stories, even on their own – even without a string of combinations to create sentences. The letters and shapes communicate beyond their stature. By their very nature words, and indeed letters, speak.
For those who find typography boring, try creating an image out of your text. This can begin as simply as taking a standard font and removing excess space. If done skilfully, removing space can take separate letters that form a word and turn them into an image that reads. The latter is more powerful. The subtle difference is actually quite powerful for a logo. Another brilliant idea for use of text in logos is to stretch or alter the letters to tell a story or evoke an emotional response. This is one of my favourite aspects of logo typography. A prime example is this typographic logo for a company called Killed Productions. The design is so simple it almost looks easy. However, the precision with which the font was selected, the spacing and choice to knock the ‘i’ down flat creates something that is instantly memorable, recognisable, and amusing. Instead of having a design around the text, the text is the design itself.
Even the greatest artistic design, if combined with badly created typography or poor choice of font, will fall flat. It’s very important to choose your typeface wisely and keep in mind that font is more than just letters. Be aware of what you are saying with the font you choose and how you use it.
If you have any examples of great or poor use of typography in design, please share them here! We’ll compile a list a post the highlights.