Custom Typefaces: The Importance of Type in Design
People have identities. So do typefaces. Fonts matter because identity matters.

The Importance of Type in Design

The Corporate Design describes the visual appearance of a company. It consists of many small elements that harmonize together in a common system and thus visually represent the company as a closed unit. The individual components of this system include color, the style of image, photography and/or illustration and, of course, the font. The goal of a corporate design is to provoke recognition from potential clients and customers.1

The German architect, designer and typographer Peter Behrens (1868 - 1940) is considered the inventor of corporate design. While working for AEG (Allgemeine Elektricitäts-Gesellschaft), he designed both the products and the business equipment through uniform design approach, so that a consistent company identity was created.2 He is also the eponym of the faculty {Peter Behrens School of Arts}, where this work was created.3

The Role of Type in Corporate Design

When I reduce a corporate design to its two core elements, all that remains to me is color and font. Regarding both elements, Erik Spiekermann said that they would suffice to form a brand (“If you have a font and a color, you have a brand.” 4). The importance of these two elements is unquestioned, but I think that in direct comparison with color, type has a much more important task in corporate design.

In the communication between a company and a customer, the typeface is not only a recognisable feature and thus a design tool, but it is also an information carrier. The font must always be used as soon as information is passed on: From a simple price tag, consisting of only a few numbers, to a complex instruction manual. A designer can design without a photo, without illustration, even without color, but he cannot design without letters. Letters must always be used. This makes the font the most important element of corporate design.

Type vs. Language

Already in 1978 Günter Gerhard Lange (1921 – 2008) wrote “Type is – after verbal language – still the most important instrument of communication”.5 In my opinion, our new digitalised world has moved even further towards written statements, although writing can never outstrip spoken language. Today, we communicate more and more via messenger services and even avoid phone calls.6 The trend is also moving more and more in the direction of using websites to buy goods instead of going shopping in the city‘s retail outlets.7 As a result, writing as a communication element is coming to the fore and is thus becoming increasingly important. As a result, the significance of type has increased enormously in recent years.

Next Chapter: Type Characteristics / Theory

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  4. p. 44, PAGE 06.2018. Ebner Verlag. Hamburg. 2018