Why Typography is the Unsung Hero of Branding

Ever since the a-maz-ing Papyrus SNL sketch came out at the end of September, I've been thinking about whether typography matters to non-designers. Like, when people watch this sketch do they think it's absurd to be as obsessed with font choices as Ryan Gosling's character? Cause in my experience, typography really is the unsung hero of visual branding and all that attention is well-deserved.

You know how you have a very clear reaction to color and then associate that reaction with the brand it's tied to? Whether you realized it or not, the same is true for typography and font choice. The impact may be more subtle, because people aren't as in touch with typographic language and how it affects them, but that's all the more reason to make sure you're in control of that subtle message by choosing the right typography for your brand.

Another analogy: You know how the exact same sentence can feel different if you say it in different tones? Typography controls the tones that readers apply to your text. Want it to feel sincere? Use a typeface for your brand that is warm and friendly. Want your text to feel edgy and sassy? Use a typeface for your brand that is visually bold and assertive. There are lots of ways to play with typography and personality and no "right way" to do it. Just make sure you are being intentional rather than choosing the 1st font you come across that's automatically installed on your computer (i.e. Papyrus)! 

I had the good fortune of getting to work with Shala at Brand Calling to design a new logo for the District of Columbia Head Start Association. The association is tied to the national Office of Head Start, but there are no formal guidelines as to how local associations need to visually link to the head office (Google "head start association logo" and you will find an interesting collection of odd solutions to this problem).

The solution that the DCHSA ended up selecting (below) is one that makes a nod to the head office by using a typeface with a clean and condensed style similar to that of the national Office of Head Start. Type is such a nice, subtle way to make visual connections without being too loud or in-your-face about it.

Curious about whether your typography is getting the right message across? Ask someone outside your org for feedback or set up a call for me to take a look! 

Christy Batta