A logo serves as the graphical representation of a company, which is the key identification feature of a brand, most visible to the target market. Logos form an essential element of businesses’ overall brand identity as they are a mandatory imprint on the company’s website, advertisement and collateral.
Generally, the colors and design of a logo also serve as a focal point of reference for the designing of its packaging, business cards, and even the outlook of the brand’s offices and other marketing materials.
Importance of a logo
The styling of a logo provides visual insight into a company’s vision and the product they sell. Consequently, the design element of a logo is largely dependent on the perception a company wants to generate about itself among the general populace.
Sharp angular logos exude trailblazing, innovative companies while rounded colorful logos are associated with trustworthiness and exuberance, and cursive typography and solid color depict flair and panache.
Furthermore, when loyal customers come upon a logo of a reliable brand they swear by, it can trigger positive emotions that are more likely to convert into increased sales.
Your accidental encounter with the golden arches of McDonald’s can prompt hunger pangs and cravings for a cheeseburger and fries; such is the power of a widely recognized logo.
A well-conceived design of a logo can also narrate the prosperity and professionalism of a business while a substandard looking logo can become a hindrance when you are trying to appeal to potential customers through it. Thus, various factors come into play during the designing of a logo including its color scheme, fonts, typefaces and accompanying images.
All the basic components that amalgamate to form a logo have a role to play, including the typography which sets the tone of the logo.
Importance of the font in a logo
Before highlighting the impact of a font on the credibility of the logo, let us discuss the basics of typography to better understand the importance of selecting an appropriate font for a logo.
Difference types of fonts
There are thousands of font styles, each distinguished by distinctive features. However, most of these typefaces can be categorized into five broad categories:
Serif: This type of a font is characterized by a small line present at the end of a stroke in a letter. These slight projections at the end make it easier for the eyes to flow through the sentence thus increasing the legibility of this font. Serif is further divided into four sub categories namely Old Style, Traditional, Didone and Slab Serif.
San Serif: In French, the word san means “without” hence the name San Serif denotes the absence of serif or minor projections. This font has a more constant line thickness as compared to Serif which conveys simplicity. San Serif is also considered to be a contemporary font, primarily found on the display texts of computer screens. It is most commonly used in headings rather than the body of the text.
Script: It is a more elegant font with fluid, cursive strokes, making it most suitable for formal text such as the ones on wedding invitations and certificates. The font is unsuitable to be used in lengthy texts or small spaces as it gets straining to read.
Display: As the name implies, the font is intended to be used for large displays and headings. It is a relatively simple typeface most commonly found in prominent headings rather than extensive passages. It is designed to draw immediate attention, which is why it is used in banners, posters and newspaper headlines. The font does not have a fixed style; it comprises various eccentric styles.
Hand Lettering: This font appears to be written by hand. It is most famous with designers and illustrators and it has a certain charm and spontaneity about it which adds a little character to the words. Hand lettering also imparts a human touch to the words making them more relatable while also channeling a particular mood. There are endless variations to this form of writing which is only limited by the imagination of the creator.
Essence of a brand
In addition to the different types of font used for particular purposes, the font in a logo also represents the core essence of a brand. Each typeface can communicate a different meaning to the same word; these differences can be minimal or drastic and can be the reason for changing the implication of a single word. A font not only channels an emotion but it can also has the ability to signify a particular age and gender.
While the following words do not directly communicate femininity, the font is more suited for female oriented brands as it is elegant and with certain panache.
The font in the following image is a direct nod to masculinity due to its ruggedness and distressed state. Its sharp-edged lettering channels toughness and exudes power.
The logos below provide a stark comparison between the fonts of two brands that make products for opposite genders. The logo on the left is sharp and more angular while the one on the right has lettering ending with a flourish. The logos instantly indicate the gender they cater to without exhibiting their products in them.
Thus, it becomes crucial for brands to explore different font options. They should experiment with various combinations of fonts and typefaces to see what best narrate the true identity of the brand and is approachable for their target market.
When you come across a logo of Rolex, the first thing that can come to mind is “timeless classic”. Their sleek, minimalistic design in watches is also depicted in their logo through a dignified, traditional font. If the company had instead opted for a more informal font, it would not have been able to retain its aura of quality and luxury.
On the other hand, Toys R Us is all about children, thus, they have a more rounded font that comes across as friendly and exuberant. It has softer edges and a non-linear letter placement that perfectly symbolizes the easy-going, fun image of the toy brand.
Tone of a font
The font and typeface can also narrate the tone of the text quite effectively; consider it to be a form of visual language. Large, bold fonts depict a loud, alarming tone that demands attention while tiny fonts which channel subtlety sound more demure and polite. Tone of the font is of utmost importance as it provides a distinctive perspective to your brand. Therefore, your chosen typeface should be in sync with the tone of the message you intent to convey through the logo of your brand.
Jessica Hische, a well-known illustrator and letterer, noted in Upper Your Type Game:
“Typefaces definitely have personalities…I usually want something even-tempered and laid back but not lacking in personality. Finding typefaces with the right personality balance can be incredibly difficult…”
Hence, the ideal logo should have a perfect balance that gets the point across effectively without appearing to be too aggressive or too overbearing. On the other hand, you don’t want your logo to be too casual for it to lose its impact. When the textual part of the logo is prominent and not overshadowed by its surrounding illustrations and designing, only then will it be comprehensible to the customers. Simply put, the visual characteristics of a logo can actually speak to the readers hence careful consideration is needed when deciding the typeface.
Competency and legibility of a font
A brand’s logo is a visual representation of its name which also highlights its products or services; hence another important characteristic of a good fond is its legibility. If a logo is hard to read and comprehend, it loses its key purpose, which is to convey the brand’s name.
Therefore, when deciding the font of a logo, most brands prefer font specifically designed to be easily decipherable even from a distance. Such fonts have linear, evenly spaced letters making them simple to understand and stand out on a cluttered background such as on a billboard.
John Hopkins’ logo is a perfect example of the above mentioned point. It denotes traditionalism and professionalism with its simple yet striking logo. Each blue-colored letter projecting from a stark white background is of even thickness and positioned at a constant distance from each other.
In retrospect, a logo’s legibility is not bound by the linearity of its letters; certain logos have a cursive font but are still very simple to conceive.
Coca-Cola is a world renowned beverage company so it is of no surprise that its iconic logo is widely recognized. But let’s separate the popularity of the brand from its logo for a second and view it like a word you have recently encountered. The two words embody a cursive style but are still very clear due to even spacing and a stark contrast between the font and the background color.
Effects of altering the font in a logo
As surprising as that sounds, the font of a logo is a big deal. If you find the statement to be difficult to comprehend and somewhat exaggerating, consider the following incident:
Pepsi Co. is another notable beverage brand. In 2009, their popular orange juice brand, Tropicana, underwent major package redesigning and changed the face and the positioning of its logo on the carton. The alteration in the font, from its classic look to a more contemporary San Serif, had a major impact on how customers perceived the brand causing rift in their customer relations.
This impact was projected on their sales which saw an astonishing 20% drop costing the brand millions of dollars of loss in just two months. The brand moved smartly, surrendering to the consumers’ demand and immediately discontinued the new design.
On the other hand, if you want your logo to evolve with the passage of time and emanate modernism without causing detrimental effects on your customer-relations, take a leaf out of Chevrolet’s book.
One of the most famous automakers in the world, Chevrolet, began its operation way back in the early 1900s. So, it is no surprise that their logo designing process wasn’t well thought out, in fact, it is widely believed that the logo was actually inspired by a wallpaper design in a Parisian hotel. However, they implemented slight modifications over the period of time, all the while staying true to the brand’s identity.
Apart from one major alteration in the beginning years, the logo retained its classic bowtie look, fine tuning it after every few decades. The current logo is sleek and ultra-modern, perfect for the automobile dominators of the 21st century.
A logo serves as the visual representation of a brand that helps consumers form an opinion about it. An important part of a logo is its font and the typeface that represents your brand’s personality, values and tone.
Whether your brand epitomizes class and style or channels loyalty and friendliness, whether the people behind the brand are astute and smart or naïve and incompetent; all these aspects can be judged by a single glance at a logo.
Due to this very reason, some organizations go as far as to create their own bespoke font that distinguishes them from their competitors. Hence, when establishing your brand’s identity, give the logo, particularly the font, its due time, resources and attention as they form the foundations of positive and healthy customer relations.