As a brand asset, a typeface should support the emotional and expressive needs of a brand, as well more pragmatic requirements such as technical performance and localisation. When a typeface is chosen or designed in the right way it can greatly elevate brand perception, but poor typographic decisions can have a negative impact on the expression and performance of your brand across multiple platforms. At 'Talking Type - The Value of Typography in Branding Today', Monotype's Type Director, Tom Foley, talked us through some essential considerations that can help improve the quality and reliability of a typeface for a brand.
The look and feel of a typeface are often the first thing people consider when choosing a font. Choosing a typeface with an appropriate expression is not easy, and with centuries of technical terminology and typographic terms to decipher, it can also be daunting. The way a brand or text is perceived can be heavily affected by the emotional connections an audience or reader may associate with a font. This is related to a combination of hard-wired cultural conventions of how we perceive visual forms, and the meanings we associate with shapes that make them seem friendly, soft, aggressive etc. Context also has a major influence on how a typeface is perceived. A concept like "Approachability" means something very different to a high street fashion brand than it does to an investment banking firm. Understanding this tension between broad cultural conventions and contextual biases can really help to home in on the right typeface for your brand expression.
Today, brands communicate with their audience through multiple mediums across a gamut of sizes and outputs - from billboards to smart watches. Different scales and resolutions require different things from a typeface. Understanding how the written origins, construction and design details of a typeface affect its performance at different sizes is critical to choosing an appropriate font for your brand. Identifying the accessibility needs of your audience is also critical. If your content will be read at 8pt on a smart phone by 8 - 80 year olds then the typeface you choose needs to support that broad user base. Whether your output is a 50 ft billboard or smartwatch UI, the functional design features of your typeface choice really matter.
- Language support:
It's becoming increasingly more common that brands need to communicate with audiences in multiple regions and across different writing systems. Successful localisation can increase brand engagement and make the experience of your content more meaningful to local audiences. But achieving a consistent tone of voice across multiple markets is challenging. Choosing your brand typeface with localisation in mind from the beginning will not only ensure a more authentic connection with audiences, it will also mitigate technical challenges of serving multiple writing systems to different areas of your brand.
Fonts are equal parts design and software, and as such should be made with technical quality in mind. Font performance relates to a number of things including screen resolution, OpenType functionality, operating system support, file size restrictions, web-fonts and new technologies such as variable fonts. How well a font behaves in these situations is down to font engineers and specialists that ensure the font software is built correctly and optimally. It's the role of font engineers to ensure the design of a typeface is supported by technology that will enable the font to display text that is legible, scalable, consistent and offers a pleasing experience to the reader across different applications.
*Want to join in with our other Christmas challenges? Visit our 12 days of Christmas blog*