It’s a simple question but one with many answers. If you were to ask most people, they would inevitably mention something about a logo. And to a degree they are right, as the logo is seen as being the focal point of the company or brand  – something tangible that they, the public, can point to. But a well-created brand is so much more than that. It is something that will work on many levels, some of which are subliminal and beyond logical introspection.
 
When we take on a new branding project we look at many things but a logo is just one of them. And to create the logo we must first understand the ‘personality’ of the brand. I’ve put ‘personality’ in quotes because many companies have no personality. That’s not to be mean or to infer they are boring, but to state the obvious - especially if the company is a start-up – they may have no public profile yet. Like a newborn baby the brand has yet to grow into a fully formed human, a new company will take time to develop and create their personality.
 
However we can start by focusing on their ‘desired personality’ – or what we call Brand Positioning. This positioning is determined by many things and this subject has already been addressed in Dom’s article: “Developing a Brand Identity”. Suffice to say this process sets some parameters and puts some checks and balances in place to help create the building blocks of the brand. Once the Brand Positioning process is complete, we can start to look at the logo design.
 
Without giving away too many ‘trade secrets’ this may involve any, or all, of the following: logo device, wordmark, typography, colour palette, positioning line or tagline, photo-imagery, illustration-style, tone of voice, and/or graphic elements. All these elements come together to create the personality or ‘voice’ of the brand – which the target market potentially sees, hears and connects with. Some brands will need all of these elements, and some just a few, and that’s also part of the process - setting the scope for the project.
 
In this first of three articles, we are going to look at one of these topics: Typography. In future articles we’ll investigate Photo Imagery and Colour.
 

Typography


What type font are you? Another seemingly simple question that can prove quite tricky to answer. On one hand you may see yourself as serious (think of a Serif font like Times Roman), but you are also modern (like Ubuntu, a Sans Serif font), not boring (think decorative) and not ‘up yourself’ (so casual). So already you have four completely different and competing type styles.
 
It can be the same for a company. The ‘wrong’ typeface might not immediately turn customers away (unless it’s Comic Sans - but that’s a subject for another article!).

However, the right choice of font could add a sense of trust, modernity or approachability to the brand – and that could be critical to your ‘voice’ being believable and your message hitting the mark.
 
For example you would expect a high-tech business to be modern and contemporary, in the same way you’d hope that your law firm is trustworthy and dependable. That’s not to say your tech firm shouldn’t be dependable – or your law firm not modern - but generally it’s not the overriding or primary message.
 
So when we choose fonts, we need to think about what it is saying about the brand and how, in conjunction with other elements, they are building the ‘voice’ of the brand.
 
We also need to think about a brand’s online presence and, where possible, applying some consistency of font usage across the print and web mediums. Personally, I believe that if there is a web version of a brand signature font available, then use it. But I don’t believe a brand’s typography should be dictated by what fonts are available in Google Fonts or Microsoft.
 
In the Brand Guidelines we produce, rather than leave this up to chance, we address this simply by specifying which of the Microsoft fonts should be applied when working in their applications. That way we’ll know that even if it doesn’t match exactly - we’ll also know that Comic Sans isn’t used.
 
Of course there are arguments for ‘going against the grain’ in all these decisions in order to create market differentiation and disruption – but, again, that’s a discussion for another time.
 
Andy Engel
Head of Creative