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Typography & Your Business: What You Need to Know

25 June 2015


We all know how crucial branding is to a business. Not only is it an opportunity to tell your audience who you are in your industry, but it’s also an opportunity to showcase how you differ from your competitors. As you think about the various components of branding, it’s likely that the first item that you think of is your logo. From there, you begin to consider some other key items that provide strong points of visual and verbal communication to your audience:  taglines, websites, promotional materials, business cards and more. However, there is a very fundamental and basic key element to each of these aforementioned items that is often overlooked, but without which, none of these other items would exist:  typography!


A photo taken at the flagship store, Playtype in Copenhagen by a Compass team member.

A photo taken at the flagship store, Playtype in Copenhagen by  Compass team member Michele

Typography is the art and technique of arranging type. Despite what you may think (based upon the basic drop-down menu’s and stock fonts that come with most devices), fonts are constantly in development by new designers and have originated from some of the very best, such as Swiss typographer, Max Miedinger. Miedinger is responsible for the Helvetica typeface family that is known for its clean lines and a modern appeal.

Helvetica is a very recognizable and popular typeface family. In fact, a documentary film was created to showcase just how rooted it is in our everyday lives. Here is a short trailer as you are led through the world of Helvetica:

Since the world of typography is so vast and technical, let’s start with a few basics related to the terminology:


Although there are a number of important considerations to make when deciding upon a font, let’s focus first on arguably the three most important aspects:



We’ve mentioned that typefaces are created by designers. As such, typeface is essentially a form of intellectual property that should be properly licensed for use. Therefore, budgeting for fonts should be a part of the overall design and marketing budget. There are fonts out there which are free for public use, but there may be limitations associated with it in size modification, consistency, crispness and use in commercial applications.


Fonts have the ability to visually communicate a perceived personality by virtue of the design aesthetic.  The cool part, is that the best fonts do this almost subliminally. Drama, emotion and meaning can be conveyed at multiple levels. Here are just a few examples:



Crafting font combinations is truly an art, and considerations are made for size, design and proportions to work in a harmonious way.


One really should not underestimate the power of typography, and the impact that it makes on visual recall amongst your target audience. Let’s illustrate this by playing a little game. Can you recognize what brand is associated with these particular typefaces? mouse over each logo to reveal the answer

This one should be pretty easy…


Not quite as obvious as before…


And finally…


In today’s world of digital design, typography is an extremely important part of conveying the personality of your brand when used properly. Thoughtful design accompanied by frequency and consistency is something that every business, large or small, should care about – not just graphic designers.