Ligature, kerning, baseline, apex. You don't need to know what these words mean to be familiar with them. Typography is so ubiquitous in our society that it is impossible not to interact with it on a daily, if not hourly basis. While you may be familiar with typography you may not realise the amount of work that goes into creating a typeface (a fancy word for a family of fonts) and the power that these typefaces can have. Typefaces can take years to design as every tiny detail is painstakingly considered and tested to ensure that each and every letter, punctuation mark and number functions separately as well as when used together to form sections of text. These tests happen both on and off screen to ensure that letters are legible at different sizes and when used in different formats, a font that is easy to read on paper mat not be easy to read on a screen.
Good use of typography can make all the difference when communicating a specific message in a desired way. Bad use of typography can result in a mixed message where the appearance of the message is at odds with the meaning. For example, if you are trying to communicate a very serious message then it is probably best not to use a font that is very childlike or flourish heavy as this will lessen the seriousness of the message by giving a more friendly and casual vibe.
A classic example of using a specific font to convey a specific message is the seemingly endless use of Futura in science-fiction movies. Futura is a typeface that was created by Paul Renner in 1927 that has become synonymous with the science fiction genre. The bold, geometric shape of the letters paired with the sharp edges of the A, W and M make for a typeface that suggests a strong sense of the future and technology, hence the name choice. This sense of the future has meant that Futura has long been used in the science fiction genre as the default font appearing in movie posters and credits for films such as 2001: A Space Odyssey, Interstellar and Gravity. While some critics argue that using Futura as the go to for science-fiction is a lazy choice there is no denying that it is an effective and visually appealing typeface that gets the job done.
In recent years we have also seen a major rise in the use of typography for logos. When we think about logos, we often picture the small icon that is pasted all over a company's branding, such as the Nike swoosh or the Twitter bird. However, more and more companies are now moving away from this approach and are rebranding their logos as simply their company name in an easy to read, yet interesting font. Prime examples of this are Google, Amazon and Gillette which all use bold typography to ensure that consumers recognise and remember their brand. These are effective as there is no way to view the company logo without also reading the name. This negates the problem of having a logo which people may see and not necessarily associate with your branding as this kind of instant recognition is something that can take years to build, often reserved for giants as Apple and Adidas.
So next time you check your phone, read a letter, or even scribble a note in your own handwriting, take a moment to look at the letters, punctuation and numbers and appreciate the way each tiny element has come together to communicate a specific message or feeling.
Blog by Dragonfly Creative