Join Ina Saltz for an in-depth discussion in this video The emotional impact of type, part of Foundations of Typography.
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Every bit of typography that you see has an emotional component. The emotion might be subtle or obvious, but type and more importantly how the type is used always has an emotional aspect. As a designer you can identify that power and use it to amplify your message. The strongest emotions can be triggered by previous or repeated associations. Many pieces of lettering or type are iconic. Think of the Hollywood sign which may conjure up a nostalgic sense of the film industry or our Declaration of Independence, which may stir feelings of patriotism.
Then there are logos, hundreds of logos, mostly typographic are engraved on our collective consciousness. National brands like the Staples logo, Wal-Mart, IBM, Macy's, the US Postal Service, FedEx, Coca-Cola, in most cases just one letter of the logo would be familiar enough to trigger recognition and an association that has an emotional component. No matter what you're designing, you can trigger the viewers' emotions by using type in ways that connect to the subconscious.
These two examples use nostalgia to appeal to consumers. This arm & hammer box looks as if it's been around forever. The illustration is still in an old-fashioned style. The strong sans serif cap surrounding the flexed bicep conveys strength. We can imagine our mothers and grandmothers using this same product. It projects a sense of confidence and trust. The Tide logo, though it's been slightly modernized over the years retains the same overall look.
Its color scheme, its concentric circles, and its forward sloping blue sans serif letters match our childhood memories of this logo. Childhood memories are powerful emotional connection. Hand-drawn lettering can add a humorous or irreverent tone to your project. Here's a great example of a re-branding project that took a whole new approach to a business that's been around for three generations. The original packaging looks like it's trying to be fun, but still comes off as a bit stogy.
The redesign by Michael Bierut from Pentagram goes over the top with a wacky, fun, irreverent, hand-lettered approach. The bright colors and childlike illustrations all contribute to a highly playful and happy feeling. The effect even continues into the shipping boxes. You can see how specific typographic usage can reach out to speak emotionally to the viewer or to target certain viewers. Using the emotional appeal of type can be a powerful tool.
- What is typography?
- Differentiating type characteristics
- Using ornamental and decorative type
- Combining typefaces
- Using contrast and scale
- Kerning and kerning pairs
- Choosing the optimum line length
- Aligning and spacing characters, words, and paragraphs
- Understanding factors affecting legibility
- Working with three-dimensional type
- Putting type in motion