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When you consider a brand, one of the first things that likely comes to mind is the logo. A “logo” is often made of two components – a logotype and a logomark. A logotype is made of a word or words (usually the name of a business) that are designed in a customized way, whereas a logomark is an identifying mark or symbol that doesn’t contain the business name – it’s simply a graphic image that represents the business. While there is definitely more to branding than just the logo, a well-designed logo can play an integral role in building a brand image. Here’s a quick list of 6 considerations to make in the development of an effective logo:

  • Simplicity: It is critical for a logo to get the idea across quickly. A logotype is not only the name of the company, product or organization – it’s the voice of the brand. Most of today’s major logos can be identified by the logomark alone. We see these logomarks everyday of our lives and they stand on their own without text or logotype (e.g., Apple, Nike, AT&T, Target).
  • Timelessness: Avoid trends for the sake of trends. Few things date a logotype more than choosing a poor typeface just because it is popular. A logo should be less about the latest fashion and more akin to a flag or a signature.
  • Uniqueness: Create a point of differentiation within the product category. Does your logo stand out and set you apart from your competition, or does it get lost in a sea of similarity?
  • Appropriateness: Does the logo convey the intended brand image? Is it appropriate for the target audience? Does it reflect the culture and values of the brand?
  • Color: Emotion plays a factor in how we interpret the colors we see to some degree. The color you choose should be carefully considered based on the industry in which you place your brand. What emotion do you want your logo and brand to communicate? Does this color convey the meaning you are going for? Could the color mean something else to other cultures? Do not go color-crazy – four-color logos can easily create visual clutter and make it hard to create a reverse version. Ninety-five percent of the top brands use one or two colors.
  • Media Versatility: A strong logo should hold up well and convey meaning across the full spectrum of uses. Print, environmental signage, digital media and video are all possible media outlets for your logo. If the logo is on a billboard, will it be recognized at a distance? Can it be projected on a wall or screen? How about being reduced to an extreme measure? Not all logos have to crunch down to a quarter-inch within a printed piece or 50 pixels on a website, but if your mark is still legible or holding up in extreme measures, it should stand up in most situations. As a design instructor once said, “You should be able to silkscreen your logo on carpet!”

Serif vs Sans Serif

When selecting a typeface for any project, one of the first considerations to make is what style of letterform you want to use. In typography, fonts are split into two fundamental categories – serif and sans serif. In this post, we'll discuss what serif and sans serif typefaces are, when to use each kind, and even touch on how combining the two in different ways can yield various results.

Serifs

The little lines, flourishes, doodads – whatever you might call the small shapes at the ends of some letters' strokes – are known formally as serifs. While serifs are indeed decorative and contribute to the aesthetic of a typeface, they also theoretically serve the purpose of guiding the reader’s eyes from letter to letter more easily while reading. Among the typefaces classified as serifs, there exist many styles including but not limited to old style, such as Garamond and Caslon; slab such as Rockwell and Memphis; and Didone (or modern) typefaces, which include the likes of Bodoni and Didot.

Sans Serifs

So if a serif typeface is one with the visible additions to ends of the letters’ strokes, then what’s a sans serif? Sans is both the Middle English and Old French form of the Latin sine, which means “without.” Hence, a sans serif face is simply one without serifs. Just as with serif typefaces, there also exists a variety of classifications of sans serifs. Examples of styles of sans serifs include grotesque, such as Franklin Gothic and Helvetica; geometric like Avenir and Futura; and humanistic, as seen with Frutiger and Gill Sans.

When and Why to Use Each

Now that we've established what the difference is between a serif and sans serif typeface, the big question is when should you use each? As mentioned earlier, the traditional reasoning for serifs is that they are supposed to physically aid the reader's eyes as they move along a row of text. However, theory and reality don't always align and, time and time again, studies have failed to support the conclusion that serifs make any measurable impact on legibility or readability.

Similarly, it has been argued that sans serif fonts are better for on-screen reading – and this was true for quite some time. Due to the limitations of display devices, fewer pixels were available to make any given letter form, allowing sans serif fonts to render truer to their print counterparts than serif fonts. But as pixel density has increased with the introduction of high resolution displays, such as 4K and Apple's Retina, the limitations of the past are becoming nonexistent on newer devices.

While the jury is still out on whether serifs (or the lack thereof) have any scientific rationale, they most certainly do affect the tone and overall mood of a body of text. In general serif typefaces convey a more traditional, formal, elegant mood, whereas sans serifs are typically seen as having a more modern, direct, minimal feel. And remember, you don't have to pick just one! Alternating between serif and sans serif fonts creates distinction and hierarchy between body copy, headings, captions and callouts. As illustrated below, by using the same two fonts but swapping the way they are paired, the same page layout can have two very different visual moods.

In Conclusion ...

Taking into account the medium in which your content will be displayed can be important when choosing between serifs or sans serifs, but more important is considering the message itself. The next time you are tasked with choosing a typeface, try and give more thought to the mood you are trying to get across and pick the font that feels right!