Typography, the unsung hero of our ever-evolving world, connects every business, road sign, and piece of information through letters and words. Strong, legible fonts are the foundation for how we communicate with each other. If you want a brand that’s memorable, remarkable, and communicates its purpose simply through the letters on a screen, your font choices are important.
Whether we’ve realized it before or not, the way we perceive brands relies on the fonts they use alongside their logo and other parts of their brand. The letters that make up font families are works of art themselves; our alphabet has been refined, detailed, and polished over generations of language development. It’s easy to see the letter “a” and overlook the actual design of the letter; Flowing, smooth lines, small but identifiable gaps, and a carefully balanced stroke are all important design elements that give this letter its warm, approachable characteristics.
People tend to associate certain design elements with certain traits; if a brand wants to appear scholarly, professional, and established, a serif font like “Garamond” goes a long way in portraying this to a target audience. Because serif fonts have been around for hundreds of years and have been used in ancient literature and academia, people will commonly associate these characteristics together. If a brand wants to appear modern, clean and approachable, “Montserrat” will create that association with people. The newer, modern san serif mixed with flowing lines and large open spaces in its characters will help an audience put the two together. Choices matter; a brand like Pringles would never choose Times New Roman to represent their product, in the same way, that Rolex would never rebrand with Helvetica.
In one of my older blogs, I touched on the brand-tastrophe of GAP’s attempt to appear hip and modern (you can find that blog here). While it still stands as the ultimate example of how not to rebrand, it's also the ultimate example of how picking the wrong font damages the way people see your brand. While GAP was no stranger to clean, modern lines, the original rebrand that brought in the tall, serif typeface instantly became recognizable and the entire face of the brand. The tall letters make GAP’s products seem luxurious, established, and trustworthy. GAP is no Louis Vuitton when it comes to the price of its apparel, but the way the brand presented itself made people feel like it was something worth buying.
That all changed with the unmitigated disaster of the 2010 rebrand when they decided the best route to fix the failing brand was to bring Helvetica into the mix. Now don’t get me wrong, Helvetica is an incredible font that works GREAT for a lot of brands, but it destroyed GAP’s entire image. The clothing store logo that once felt unique and established now felt like a generic, cold, and sterile word someone typed up in Powerpoint. To appear modern and sleek, GAP completely misunderstood the power of the letters in their name. The old logo came back less than a week later and is still the brand’s primary mark today. Never underestimate the power of the font; it’s an important part of any brand identity, and will ultimately help define how people see you. Just stay away from Comic Sans.
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