Can typography tell a story? Can the design of a typeface, the width of the strokes and the presence of a serif affect the way that we perceive a message? I would answer with a resounding yes.
In this post I would like to unpack how to effectively pair typefaces with our marketing messages to support our overall communication objectives. So lets get started.
When discussing typography and its use in different marketing environments I believe it’s important to first define two separate but complementary concepts. The concepts are: visual language and verbal language.
Visual language: is the meaning created by the visual appearance of the typeface.
Verbal language: is the literal meaning of the words.
It’s these two concepts working together in tandem that allows marketers to successfully convey an impactful message to their audience.
So how do we ensure that we are using the proper fonts to support our marketing messages? To understand how to use typography, we must first have a clear understanding of how typefaces are perceived by society. Type falls into three overarching categories: serifs, san-serifs and scripts. Below is a brief definition of each typeface, an explanation of each font categories perception, and a few of my favorite typefaces.
This refers to a small line tailing from the edge of each one of the letters. Fonts like Times New Roman have short projections at the top and the bottom on each character; these short projections are the serifs.
Serif fonts typically denote formality. The perceptions associated with these fonts are: delicate, expensive, warm and old. Serif fonts are most commonly used in more formal marketing applications.
As you build out your marketing copy, it’s imperative that your content’s message influence your typography design elements.
Think through the message that you are trying to convey.
How would you like your writing tone to come across? Casual, friendly, formal, or sarcastic?
What are the emotions that you would like to evoke from your reader?
What is the purpose of the message? Is it to deliver information or to drive conversions?
Once you have answered these questions you can effectively assign a font family that supports your overall communication goal. Remember that the typography you choose, the font weight you select, and the color that you assign can either support or detract from the message you are trying to communicate. So choose your typography elements wisely for your next piece of marketing collateral.
A Case Example
For the second half of this post I interviewed a close friend, designer, and talented typographer Jordan Fretz. In his current role Jordan develops logo concepts and typography designs for clients of Jackson Marketing Group. Recently I sat down with Jordan to discuss the typography creation process as it pertained to a motorsports logo that he created for Jackson Marketing Group. Below are the contents of the interview:
Pavoni: “What did your typography concepting process entail for the Jackson Motorsports Logo”?
Fretz: “As I was working on the typography for the logo, I was trying to think through common elements that would resonate with the motorsports enthusiast crowd. Things like engines, tires, and apparel. Then I stumbled upon the idea of using a racing helmet for the typography.
Pavoni: “Once you came up with the helmet concept how did you develop that into a typeface?
Fretz: “When I am working to develop a typeface I typically like to start out with a pencil and paper and draw out some different concept ideas. However, before I started to draw, I researched a bunch of different motorcycle and racing helmets via google images and industry websites. Then I started drawing my own on a sketch pad.”
“Once I had a helmet concept that I was happy with, I took the angles from the helmet and decided to use them in the development of my typeface. “
Pavoni: “What were some of the other elements that you were cognizant of incorporating into the typography?”
Fretz: “Well, being that the concept was for a motorsports logo I wanted the typography to be tough, modern, and edgy. I think the concept that I was able to develop clearly incorporated these element into the typography.
Here is a short video that showcases the ideation and development process of the Jackson Motorsports logo.
Typography is an incredibly powerful design tool that marketers can use to enhance their communication. Effective typography marries the use of both visual language and verbal language to stimulate a visceral response in the reader.
So carefully select your typeface, font weight, color, size and spacing to deliver marketing messages that resonate with your target audience.
Originally published Feb 26, 2014 2:00:00 PM, updated October 09 2023