Renee Prejean-Motanky

Type Tells a Story…once again Seth Godin hits a homerun

In Business Strategies, Communications, marketing on January 19, 2010 at 2:08 pm

iPod logotype rendered in Myriad Pro SemiboldThe typography you use sends a message… that’s Seth Godin‘s message today. I can’t make that point often enough or better than Seth did in his message today, so I’m sending you there:

or if you’d rather just read his message here:

Type tells a story

If you write it down, we’re going to judge it.

Not just the words, we’re going to judge you even before we read the words. The typography you use, whether it’s a handwritten note or a glossy brochure, sends a message.

Some typefaces are judged in a similar way by most people you’re addressing (Times Roman in a Word document or Helvetica on a street sign or Myriad Pro on a website) but even when you choose something as simple as a typeface, be prepared for people to misunderstand you.

If you send me a flyer with dated, cheesy or overused type, it’s like showing up in a leisure suit for a first date. If your website looks like Geocities or some scammy info marketer, I won’t even stay long enough to read it.

Like a wardrobe, I think a few simple guidelines can save amateurs like us a lot of time:

1. Invest some time and money up front to come up with a house style that actually looks the way you want it to, one that tells the story you want to tell. Hire a designer, put in some effort. A headline font, a body font, one or two extras. That’s your outfit, just like the four suits you rotate through your closet.

2. “What does this remind you of?” No need to be a pioneer (unless that’s the story you want me remember). Find a combination of typefaces that remind your chosen audience of the sort of organization you want to remind them of. Hint: italic wedding invitation fonts in the body of your email remind me of nothing except other people who have wasted my time…

3. Be consistent. Don’t change it when you get bored. Don’t change it when your staff gets bored. Change it when the accountant and marketing guys tell you it’s not working any longer.

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  1. How right you are but as we move away from the printed word, I fear everything that makes it special will eventually be lost. I resist getting a kindle because while access to all that wonderful literature is amazing, it is still not a book and all that brings to the reading experience. Sigh…I’m wandering off down my “save books” path.

    • Great point, Fran! I think that what makes reading special is that it’s still a physical experience using multiple senses (whether you’re reading a story on kindle or a dead tree version.) The kinesthetic link between sight , sound and speech is mirrored by an inner speech, inner sight & inner sound.

      Fear not! Kindle will never replace our beloved books. It will only allow us to read more of them. I have a cherished collection of paper books, some autographed by their authors (can’t do that with a kindle.) They’ll never be replaced. And there will be other paper books that I must have.

      On the other hand, if you want to read the most current bestseller and only have a passing interest in it, buy it on the Kindle. If you want a non-fiction or eucational book that you want to make notes on and highlight…get it on the Kindle

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