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The Importance of Typography to Logo and Brand
By: Don McLean
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“A logo is not a brand unless it’s on a cow,” says AdamsMorioka in the Logo Design Workbook. The way consumers view a company builds the brand's perception. This starts with the logo but travels far beyond. A logo, a good logo, starts with a study of what the company is and what it is trying to achieve. What does the font in your logo and marketing materials convey?

Disclaimer: If you think ‘Comic Sans’ is a viable font choice, stop reading now.

In the Logo Design Workbook, typography is described as “pictures of words.” Each typeface can bring out a different meaning. Have you ever tried typing the same word 20 times all with different typefaces? Do it now. I will be here.

Now look at what you see. It is the same word 20 times but with 20 different meanings, some slightly and some drastically different. Performing a study of diverse typefaces can be very important, and in high-profile cases may be necessary, to discover options for the brand.

In some instances it may be necessary to create a new typeface altogether. In a meeting of the Detroit InDesign User Group at Schoolcraft College on November 15, 2012, Eric Weir and Martin Smith from Goodby, Silverstein and Partners Detroit stepped in to discuss their techniques and thought processes behind the 2013 Chevrolet catalogs. Among other design elements, Eric and “Marty” went into detail about the importance of font choice. In the case of the Chevy catalogs they actually commissioned two completely new fonts to be created. One unidentified attendee in the question and answers session said, “You don’t want your plumbing company to look like a Mexican restaurant!” While a plumbing company looking like a Mexican restaurant may sound like a stretch, it is not to some uneducated in the importance of font choice.  

For a plumbing company it may be easier to find a font that would work well compared to the largest automaker in the world, but in both cases it is important. The logo should be built with the font choice in mind if at all possible. Since William Durant and Louis Chevrolet probably did not consider this in the early 1900s, we can give them a break. However, the Chevy logo is a great example of how a brand can go through a number of modifications and still stay true to its brand identity.

The logo, the typeface within it, and the corporate identity all go hand in hand. If this seems like an introduction to type it was not meant to be. It is just simply a reminder that something as simple as a typeface can change everything your company, or your client's company, stands for. What does your company’s font choice evoke?  


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About the Author
Don McLean, MBA is an account supervisor at Airfoil Group, an independent marketing and public relations firm serving tech companies and innovation-centric brands with offices in Detroit, New York and Silicon Valley. Follow Don on twitter at@mclean_don.  
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