When we think of fonts, many of us conjure up images of that all-star team of popular, tried-and-true typefaces, namely Times New Roman, Arial, and Verdana. They are something like the Ratpack of text, if you will– mainstream fonts that get heavy attention in the world of words. There are exceptions– If you're a grade school teacher, Comic Sans is your go-to standard for syllabi and permission slips. Helvetica is almost a cult amongst fashionistas and techy hipsters, and there's some odd soul out there who just can't get enough Nimbus Sans L. But, what are the aesthetic standards used in the the corporate world? What can you learn from them when working on your own project, whether it's writing a proposal, creating your own holiday cards, or crafting a resume?
Microsoft's New Subtle Logo…Take a Second Glance
In August, Beta News ripped on Microsoft's new logo for being bland, and corporate-boring in what was termed as “one big branding frak up”, by Beta News writer Joe Wilcox. Wilcox could be right. However, this new Windows logo still has something that is yet to be seen. At first glimpse, its flat, grey text and light-hue colored, 2-D window comes off as slightly weak. It has the kind of image you might expect to see on the cover of a home or gardening magazine rather than the logo of a leading technology brand. But, when you take a step back, when you see it multiple times, you begin to realize what's going on here.
Everyone knows Microsoft. It doesn't need the type of stark, cutting exclamation that a technology start up needs in order to introduce its brand. It can be subtle and cool- lighthearted, neutral. The new logo is a nearly unseen watermark that knows its dominating role in society without having to be obvious about it– non-confrontational and extremely confident without being cocky. This may seem ironic for a billion dollar corporation, but it's brilliant. Microsoft has found the perfect way to politely remind us that it's brand is already implemented into our lives, and therefore does not need to be showy or pretentious, just complimentary.
From Corporate Branding to Wedding Planning: It's All in the Typeface
Fan of the new Microsoft logo or not, you better believe that it wasn't simply thrown together last minute. Large corporations take an active role in communicating their message through graphics and aesthetics. They have teams of people who are paid just to create custom fonts and determine the colors, spacing and positioning of the company's brand name and/or logo. This is why something as simple as font selection is important when getting ready to delve into a graphic intensive task.
Wedding invitations are one example of a highly planned project– and if your future spouse has any graphic design sense, they'll know that fonts will determine the type of wedding you are planning, the type of people you are and the expectations you have of the marriage that's to come. Are you a traditional couple, planning a white wedding full of lace and velvet? You're likely to opt for an elegant handwritten style font like Adios or Burgues Script. Non-traditional weddings may be better suited with invitations using a creative font styling like System (for a retro computer look) or Purisa (for a quirky caveman style).
Bold Hipster Helvetica or Mainstream All-Star Fonts?
If your making your own holiday cards this year, do something outside-the-box. Get crazy, flashy, or even stripped down and minimal. Last year, you probably played it safe and stuck with the go-to team of fonts for your card message. This year, switch it up and make a slightly oversized card. Use 60-pt size bold, Helvetica lettering with heavily compressed spacing, and run your stampede of a holiday message across the inside with Godzilla fervor!
For a resume, you may not want to be as daring. Unless you are applying for a graphic design firm or a company known for being eccentric or cultivating visual creativity, stick to the All-Star font team. You can deviate a bit. But overall, you want to give the message that you are a stable, consistent, hard worker willing to meet the standards of the company. It may sound boring, but if you're applying for the corporate world, use safe fonts! The good news is that a resume may be one of the only items for which you should use boring fonts.
There are no excuses for your lack of font diversity! According to Apple's support page, OS X Mountain Lion contains 242 stock fonts. Windows 7 boasts 235 (over 100 more fonts than XP had). There are thousands of unique typefaces out there on the web! Go find them and make your creative projects visually stunning. Do your self a favor and make 2012 be the year you don't settle for obvious graphics, boring themes or run-of-the-mill fonts. Download some new typeface packs, or sift through the hundreds of otherwise unused stock fonts. Mess with spacing and create your own format. Have a little courage and be zany. Find your inner Liberation Sans, and express yourself!