Have you ever looked at an ad or promotional product for another company and immediately lost interest? Have you cringed at the sight of low-quality imagery and instantly discredited said company in your mind? If so, you already have an understanding of how fonts and typography can have a major impact on advertising and marketing. Like imagery, typography can make or break your marketing efforts, only in a much more subtle, ninja-like way.
Take the above image, for example. There are 34 different typefaces shown and only a small few of them that you would use if you were sending or posting a serious and expecting to be taken seriously about it. Likewise, if you were designing a billboard to inspire fun and excitement, there are completely different typefaces in that group that just wouldn’t feel right. This is how typography communicates a general mood to its onlookers. How the wording on your digital or print advertisements is perceived involves more than just the typeface, however. It’s really all about the font.
What’s the difference between typeface and font?
Typeface refers to a group of characters, letters and numbers that share the same design, such as Aachen, Cooperplate or Trajan, all shown above. The way these ptypefaces are displayed, i.e. 11pt Garamond Bold, is the font. The font is the typeface with a set size, width and weight. Owing to that, you can see that while the typeface plays a big role in how you perceive copy, the font is ultimately much more influential.
What else can affect my marketing campaign and ads or how my promotional products are received?
Other aspects of typography that can greatly affect readability and the overall perception of your copy are line length, the space between the right and left margins; leading, the space between the imaginary lines on which the letters sit; kerning, the space between individual characters or letters; and tracking, that same space between characters as it is controlled uniformly throughout a range of text. These factors can make or break the way your audience feels about any ad or promotional product you present them with. They can make it difficult to focus on and even read your print or they can deliver a smooth, flowing and intriguing viewing experience.
If you’re feeling like you’ve fallen down the rabbit’s hole and this is just too much to remember when designing your next flyer, banner ad or promotional giveaway, don’t. Your brain assesses all these individual qualities automatically. Here is a simple example of how, below.
The above image shows a humorous poster that can be found on Etsy. It’s meant as a fun, somewhat inside, joke among designers because it’s a perfect example of how a basic and easy to read font can be completely destroyed with bad kerning. It is, in fact, irritating to look at and if you saw an advertisement designed in this manner, it would be off-putting rather than compelling – and apparently, if you were a designer, it would totally piss you off. If you are a designer, allow us to ease your migraine with some really great typography, below.
When the Cancer Patients Ad Association released the above anti-smoking poster, they were also giving other designers and advertisers an excellent example of really great typography. By slightly adjusting the font they are able to use typography to deliver a message so cogently that we doubt any high-quality imagery could do a better job. This is the cure for the migraine caused by that kerning train wreck in the previous image. It’s also a pretty decent cure for a smoking habit.
When it comes to fonts and advertising, you start off with a blank canvas and an idea and from there you can get as creative as you want. Just be mindful of what type of feeling you may be bringing out of your audience. Sometimes a little less artistic license and a little more discernment is the key to an effective ad or promotional product.