“What do you mean by typography? What font is that? What is a typeface?” – We continuously face questions from our clients on the difference between fonts and type, when to create something custom, and how it applies to brand development. Let’s clear some things up:
- The term “Typeface” refers to the family of type.
- The “Font” is the variant of the typeface within that family.
Why is Typography important?
Typography is more than choosing the latest trendy “font.” Typography is key in establishing a brand’s overall tone and feel. Not only will typography influence the user on how they feel when viewing your brand, but it will inform and guide them as they interact with you. Typography plays a significant role in how users perceive information written in text. Generally speaking, a visually appealing type is more effective at grabbing the user’s attention and will have more potential to reinforce the brand than a generic typeface.
For us, the first step in the design process is to explore a robust type study, pulling different typefaces that consider all project specifications (usability, licensing, Webfont availability, and aesthetics based on conceptual direction).
This type study will act as a starting/reference point for logo design, providing the designer with a bank of appropriate fonts to work with as they begin the design process. From there a custom typeface would be created if needed. A great example of where a custom typeface was needed to round out the system is our recent work with Hazelwood Labs.
In our initial meetings with Joseph at Hazelwood, we discussed the specific in-application use cases that the brand would have. One of their key touch points was the ability to laser cut letters into various wood, metal surfaces, and other materials. If they were to use an ordinary typeface to laser cut, pieces of the letters would fall out and decrease legibility. When starting the design process, solving this problem was top of mind. In order to achieve the final look, we needed to create an entirely custom typeface with a “stencil” font.
Type is much more than “just a font.” Typography has a significant role to play in a brand’s development and visual identity. And because of that it requires a deep dive into creating things intentionally and with usability top of mind.