BRANDING Q&A: FONT vs LOGO or LOGOTYPE
Jordan Meyer, of Jungle Junkies, asks…
“I’m in the process of designing mini flyers, thank you cards, business cards, hang tags, etc… for the relaunch of my company. The logo is solid, but up until now, I’ve never had any accompanying fonts or anything to go with the logo. Mainly because my end game is to ONLY use my logo for my brand to be recognized. I DO have a font that I use for the website header logo, but it doesn’t POP on any of the stuff I’m going to have printed. I want my website and all my printed material to be cohesive and match (brand identity), but is it really THAT important to have a signature font for your company name? Can colors and just overall “mood/vibe” fonts and text be enough?”
So first off, let me thank Jordan for allowing me to share his name and this Q&A session with you. Thanks, buddy!
Let me break this into parts to try to clarify and answer each question, both for Jordan and the readers.
Branding Style Guides:
“The logo is solid, but up until now, I’ve never had any accompanying fonts or anything to go with the logo. Mainly because my end game is to ONLY use my logo for my brand to be recognized.”
When it comes to branding I recommend that you find 3 or 4 main fonts that you use for ALL marketing design. These should be used for all headlines and taglines and callouts. I would choose a strong bold font that really stands out and grabs attention but is different than every other font. I would look for a lighter font to contrast the bold one. I also like to have a great serif font and a great sans-serif font to mix it up and have some fun or a bit of a “wild” font for mixing it up. This keeps things fun and playful. Planning this out before you start building your brand though is important. I would pick fonts you can commit to forever that really represent your brand’s personality.
Now to answer this part of Jordan’s question… my above answer is more focused on fonts for design purposes and not for logo usage. To me, a logo or what I call a logotype (company name in text form) should NEVER be a font. To be honest, as I type this I view the Success Movement logotype and notice I am breaking my own rules. Since the business Success Movement is less about a brand and more about a MOVEMENT, I can say we broke my typical rules. This is probably not a good idea, but we will potentially build out a stronger brand if we start building momentum. If you are reading this based on your company brand or any product branding you are doing try to not use fonts.
DO NOT USE FONTS? What does that even mean?
Well, you can start with a font, but customize it for your logotype. You see the more customized your brand is, the harder it will be for people to recreate your logo or try to represent your brand. What I am suggesting here is you can either hand draw your logotype or manipulate a font that you use to create the logotype. You can stretch fonts or letters, squash them, crop them off, remove parts or add parts, add ligatures, flip letters upside down or backward, add or remove shapes or any other type of customization, but by all means, do some sort of customization.
As an example, let me use the Brandwise company logo to show what I mean.
So quickly the first thing that stands out is the exclamation point that is used for the “I” in the word “wise”. So this certainly adds a bit of customization, but is that enough? For some maybe.
Is there any more customization done? Most will not catch the fine details of your customization if it is done well. We created a ligature of sorts with the “R” and “A” by joining the and editing the foot of the A to the R.
We went on to continue down this path with the “N” and “D”. If you look closely, you will see we removed the “stem” of the D and replaced it with the “stem” of the “N”.
Beyond this, we adjusted the KERNING (the space between each letter) to get the logo to read well.
As Jordan mentioned he’d only be using his logo for his brand to get recognized so he’s on the right track.
Your company name in text or body copy should not be special, but anytime you are using your name, not in the body copy text you should be using, what I call your logotype, for ALL name usage. Now depending on your type of logo, you may have a logotype (just the company or product name) as well as an icon or graphic image, called a mark. These two things can be used separately or together. Every brand is different, but you should create RULES or Brand Guidelines or a Styles Guide for how these items will be used on their own as well as in a “lockup” (meaning used together).
What is a logotype, a mark, and a lockup?
Logotype: Any alphabetical configuration that is designed to identify, by name… an individual, product, service, publication or company. See the image below of the Legacy Financial Services logotype.
Mark: A mark is a graphic symbol used to identify a company’s product or service as distinct from others in the same industry or marketplace and, beyond that, to give the company an identity. See the image below of the Legacy Financial Services logo icon or Mark.
Lockup: A lockup is a graphic where both the logotype and the logo mark are used together. Consistency is important in branding so you would want to create a brand image for all three items (logotype, mark, and a lockup) See the image below of the Legacy Financial Services logotype and mark lockup.
To continue the band consistency, you need to define things like brand colors in PMS, CMYK, RGB, and HEX Code (search google for what each of these is if you don’t know or if we get comments about this stuff, maybe we can talk more on branding colors). Then create rules for how close they should be together and exact positioning as well as whitespace around them and how close other items can be to the lockup or types of backgrounds they can be on. I know this sounds crazy and tedious, but the more you do up front the sooner your brand consistency is going to start breaking through the clutter of the crappy brands out there in the world.
Here is an example of how I like to set up brand colors…
Then the last part of Jordan’s question is…
“I DO have a font that I use for the website header logo, but it doesn’t POP on any of the stuff I’m going to have printed. I want my website and all my printed material to be cohesive and match (brand identity), but is it really THAT important to have a signature font for your company name? Can colors and just overall “mood/vibe” fonts and text be enough?”
My recommendation is to see if one of the headline fonts you use can be a web or google font so you can use it in your headlines. That being said, I would create your company name as an image and use ALT TEXT and image naming to capture SEO ability. Using text for your brand name should only ever be text or a font when it is in the body copy text only and never when you are graphically trying to represent your brand. Jordan is doing a great job of understanding that ALL areas (print, web, etc) should be consistent. That consistency is what builds brands, that, and your policing of the rules you set up for usage of your brand images.
So lastly… to answer Jordan’s question… “is it really THAT important?”
In my opinion YES. Of course, as I also shared, it is important to NOT use a font to EVER represent your brand name or logotype. And to that last part… Can colors and just overall “mood/vibe” fonts be enough? To build a true and strong brand, my answer would be NO. Building a brand is about rules and structure. I was in a Starbucks the other day and I must have seen 100+ usages of the Starbucks logo on hundreds of products. The consistency was something of beauty and cohesiveness. Although there were hundreds of logos in sight, it wasn’t a problem because they were all structured and following the brand guidelines that Starbucks has established to make things easy on the customers and still make a hundred different sizes and angles and odd shaped products and all are building an enjoyable experience because this stuff was planned. Starbucks lives or dies by their guidelines and it shows.
Now you may be saying or asking yourself… but I am building a small company, or I only run a startup, or my company is built on being wild and crazy and isn’t this stuff a little TOO CORPORATE for my company? Here is my response to that… branding is all about rules, structure, and consistent usage. The more you keep the consistency, the stronger your brand recognition will be. Early on most companies just get out there and do whatever and they learn as they go or as they start hiring professionals to help them build their brand. Ideally though, as a rulebreaker, I will tell you it is important for you to first know the rules before you break them. If you break them out of ignorance, this will often hurt your brand. If you break the rules because there is a purpose behind what you are doing you can still have the brand consistency. Clients and prospects can tell even though they do not have the technical or industry terms we discussed in this article. They do notice inconsistencies and it is these inconsistencies that make things feel amautre and will erode trust.
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