When designing a logo, or any kind of graphic design project that uses fonts, there’s a pitfall that many people fall into (designers included) that can create a disruptive or even unintentionally funny situation. And it’s one that is focused on your choice of typefaces.
When designing a logo, or using fonts in any significant way, the ones you choose will do much of the work to convey the tone you intend. Much of the storytelling is done with that most basic of choices. A thick, sans-serif font speaks to boldness and strength. Rounded edges on that same font might add a sense of whimsy or youthful energy. A delicate serif font implies dignity and can work well to convey something with history and class.
Since all design is about telling a story, you want that story to be as clear as possible to as broad of an audience as possible. Which is why you want to avoid typefaces that come pre-loaded with a specific meaning used in already famous logos. This is an amateur problem that crops up often of late, because many older logo designs have become typefaces available for easy download. They are familiar and usually evoke very specific emotions because they were designed to. When searching through a free stock photo website recently, I came across the following graphic.
The typeface is powerful and bold, implying movement and energy, and looks vaguely futuristic. And it should, as it’s a typeface based on designers Suzy Rice and Joe Johnston’s logos for STAR WARS.
In the same image search, I came across another type-based graphic that caught my attention right away. It was a graphic centered around the concept of INNOVATION. The typeface chosen was similarly futuristic and looked technologically advanced and sleek. The letterforms imply forward movement, power, and technology. Again, it should, as the font is taken from the opening title sequence of the movie THE TERMINATOR, designed by Ernest D. Farino.
Now, perhaps you’re looking at these designs and didn’t make those connections. But as a graphic designer (or anyone creating marketing assets), one should be very aware of the idea that a big chunk of the people that will see these designs WILL know where these fonts come from. And that the brand recognition of these fonts might not be the kind of connection the client will want their logo or graphic to convey. After all, the ‘INNOVATION’ implied in the graphic above references a specific kind of innovation from a movie where technological innovation tried to wipe out humanity. Probably not the message the designer intended to convey, but it’s what I immediately thought of because I recognized the font.
Now, this can be used to your benefit if you specifically want to trade on the recognition of an existing logo for positive connection. For example, many an ad campaign that wanted to evoke a style of epic adventure and the spirit of exploration has used fonts taken from the ‘Indiana Jones’ movie logos. This kind of familiarity can help fuel nostalgia and make your design instantly recognizable for an advertisement or social media campaign. But if you’re using a familiar typeface for a logo design, you are playing a much more dangerous game, and may simply look like an imitator. And that’s not a comparison any good designer (or business) wants to have.
So, be careful with the fonts you choose because each one tells a story and you want to make sure that it’s YOUR story, not one well-known from somewhere else entirely.
Written by Blog Contributor: Dee Fish
Images from pixabay.com