Last Tuesday and as part of the BrandPerfect Tour I gave a talk entitled Type and Usability in New Media. I’m not going to summarize the whole talk here, but there are a few points that I thought might be interesting to share and discuss.
Connecting emotionally with a brand:
I started the talk with a quote from a BBC 3 documentary about Superbrands in which they did MRI scans of an Apple fan and they discovered that “Apple was actually stimulating the same parts of the brain as religious imagery does in people of faith.” It is no wonder that people talk about the Church of Apple. It seems to be true on more than one level! A successful brand inspires trust and devotion and to do so it needs to connect on an emotional level. It needs to be clear and authentic in its message and in the way it behaves.
Consistency in branding means consistency in typography:
Typography is the voice with which a brand speaks to its audience. It is the physical embodiment of the message: It is both the gift and the wrapping paper. Typography carries in it and should be aligned with the brand personality: feminine or masculine, formal or informal, etc… The choice of typeface has a direct consequence on the visual interpretation of a brand. Switch typefaces and you might end up with a schizo-brand.
Branding affects our senses:
Another installment of the BBC 3 Superbrands documentary looks at how we react to popular food brands. Through MRI scans they found out that “we use the same part of our brain to recognize well-known brands as we use to recognize friends and family.” When investigating how British people react to the popular Heinz Baked Beans, the researchers presented people with 2 identical samples that were branded differently and they found that people strongly favored the Heinz one. A professor in the study explained that “the samples genuinely tasted different.” We’re not as objective as we think we are, right?
A more comprehensive style guide:
It is often the case that branding guidelines look at typography in print and not on the web. To fully utilize the power of typography we need to look at both internal and external communication, as well as every instance of a brand signal, offline or online. This extends from memos and letters to banner ads, links, and navigation menus. With webfonts we are now able to have consistent typography across many platforms. With mobile the situation is a bit tricky, but we should at least plan it out from the beginning of the process rather than leave it to the last minute. Typography is a key ingredient, not an afterthought.
The talk has more about usability and type, but I leave that to another post. Enjoy the weekend!