As a designer I’ve had more than one occurrence of someone pointing to the nearest sign and smugly saying ‘what’s that.’ Graphic design at its core is communication and in it’s foundations lay typography.
When the digital age hit it was bittersweet for old school designers and typesetters, some welcoming the change and some feeling, to quote Milton Glaser, “computers are to design as microwaves are for cooking”.
But by simplifying the process of type design, the number of typefaces proliferated, opening up so many more opportunities for branding. (I feel like I can let myself off not knowing all of them! There’s no shame in using font identifiers, FYI).
I feel like it’s a taboo to admit as a designer my relationship with typography would maybe be best described as ‘it’s complicated’, if we were doing a secondary school FB throwback.
It wasn’t until working in an agency did I appreciate the way that type it can impact a project – especially within branding. At University it was more of an afterthought and it’s surprising how many clients don’t fully appreciate the importance of their logo and typeface from the get go.
Type has personality. If it didn’t, Times New Roman would be slapped all over the shop and I’d be out the job. An identity doesn’t need to be over complicated, but considering the right typeface can imbue a project with the right feel.
Fluid Trust plc
Fluid was my most recent branding project. Needing to be corporate but feel like ‘a modern bank’ I wanted to portray something classy and I suppose…fluid. An identity with movement which the ligature in the chosen typeface provided instantly.
Many rebrands use sans-serif fonts and it’s seen as the ‘modern’ typeface, but I think getting the balance of movement with Heimat Didone worked well. It had a corporate but welcoming appeal, and when coupled with Gotham helped create a modern but sophisticated identity.
The brief for this project was reasonably open, but one of the things specified was that It was going to be an ‘arty bar’ (perfect for its central NQ location). Once the name generation was agreed, there was a clear direction, which was set as “Patron of the Arts” bringing a parisian twist, to New-York district lookalike – Northern Quarter.
I chose to use Pistilli, with its contrast, curves and hairline strokes it looks elegant yet playful. Also noticing as a happy coincidence the centre was an anagram for art it cemented the identity allowing a flexible and interchangeable brand. It worked nicely with the vibrant interiors and applied well to accompanying assets such as the menus, windows and across the website and social media.
To summarise, design shouldn’t be a graveyard of typographic personality due to trends. A brands role is to differentiate and that’s why it’s worth investing some time at choosing the right one.
By Jordan Hall