Of course, character ultimately informs your tone of voice; a ‘hero’ archetype will communicate very differently to a ‘jester’ or an ‘innocent’. But in the fight for attention, brands can sometimes have mere seconds to convince or intrigue. So how do you visually telegraph character before your brand says a word?
The answer lies in typography, an art-form that traces its roots back through the invention of the printing press in the 1400s, past the handwritten calligraphy that preceded it and all the way back to 1st-century Rome. What began as a single uniform style of calligraphy, laboriously hand-lettered by monks, has become an explosion of over half a million different fonts; all available at the click of a mouse.
But there is more to modern typography than clicking a dropdown, picking a font and typing your brand name. Having access to 300 television channels, doesn’t mean you always end up watching quality programming. It’s the same with brand-building; because anything is possible with type, a brand should consider its choices.
Typography is a vital component of your brand toolkit that shouldn’t be wasted. In terms of perception and understanding, the brain acknowledges and remembers shapes first, then colour, then form and finally; meaning.
So long before you read and understand a logo or strapline, your brain has already processed the characteristics and associations the letterforms convey.
This means type choice and type design is often a balancing act, distinctive enough to stand-out, characterful enough to express something about your brand, yet legible enough to be read and understood.
At Better, once we have clearly defined the Brand Story, including the Archetype and Tone of Voice, we write an Identity Brief for the visual half of our Create phase. Often this will provide the springboard for a more distilled typography brief. Usually no more than three words, these mini-briefs really focus the mind when searching for typefaces, they are invaluable if we need to create letterforms or entire typefaces from scratch.
With our recent brand refresh for Dropps, one of the first challenges was updating the letterforms in the logo without changing them so much that brand recognition would be lost. Our starting point was Dropps’ philosophy of “Eliminate the Stupid, Elevate the Core”. We needed to strip away anything that was unnecessary. Dropps don’t just use nature to clean, they engineer it, they make it as effective as possible. So we knew that the type needed to feel minimal, engineered and, ultimately, modern. They are a forward-thinking brand and this refresh needed to reflect that.