How and why custom type helps your identity

by Kelly Hobkirk

One element of graphic design that most people take for granted is type. The letters you read on every website, and in books, newspapers, magazines, advertisements, and packages have all been carefully drawn, refined, and programmed into a font by skilled graphic designers.

Type is one of the primary ways you express your brand. When used in your corporate identity, it exudes a personality and imparts character. It has the power to stand out, and people really take notice. Like all things ‘brand’, it’s preferable for your text to have a unique character that actually describes your brand.

Type can express virtually any characteristic, such as wisdom, nostalgia, modern, rebellious, conservative. You name it, type can communicate it.

What is Custom Type?
Custom type is a typeface which has been drawn and programmed (as a font) specifically for you. That means that no other business has the same type in use.

A custom typeface can be drawn from scratch, or it can be an edit to the shapes of an existing typeface. It can be just the characters used in your name, or it can be an entire alphabet, with numbers and punctuation.

Custom typefaces are common in the world of publishing. Publications such as The Wall Street Journal, Dwell and Esquire utilize custom type to add to their unique voices. From corporations to non-profits to the arts, organizations use custom type to bring a more memorable look to their identity, advertising, and other marketing communications.

How do custom typefaces work?
Since people remember information first by shape, then by color, and third by type, custom type works in double capacity — with shape and type — to make your logo and communications more memorable.

Why not use the system fonts on your computer for your logo?
Virtually everyone is familiar with system fonts, so they don’t stand out. Also, system fonts are designed for optimum on-screen readability. They are generally not optimized for print, which means they can be harder to read off screen. Are there exceptions? Sure, but they are few and far between.

When should custom type be considered?
Custom type most commonly comes into the picture with logo design, but it can also be considered for all brand and marketing communications, including advertising and collateral.

When you want your identity to speak with a voice that is unique to your business, to communicate with purpose, and embody a character all its own, you should consider custom type design.

Posted by Kelly Hobkirk • March 30, 2011 • Tags: