By Tony Baxter, Voodoo Designs

When creating a sign for your business, there is one word that is going to crop up quite a lot: typography. An ambiguous word, it refers to the style and appearance of printed words. It is not difficult then, to see why it is so important, but why should we pay so much attention to it? What’s wrong with a bit of bold black helvetica? Well as you delve deeper into the world of typography you begin to realise that there’s more to it than you might think.

What’s The Point?

On the surface of it, focusing too much on typography seems rather pointless. Surely, no matter the signs font and appearance, people will use your business because the product on offer is good quality, right? Well, you’d be lucky.

In our hectic modern world, the sad truth is that people don’t have time to try each business one-by-one to find out whether what they offer is good or not. Instead, they need to make snap judgements. The first thing customers will see when they come across your business is the signage. As a result, signs are more important than many people realise. Whatever typography you use then, is going to be taking center stage, making the opportunity to optimise it one not be missed.

How To Use Typography To Your Advantage

Thanks to our cultural inclinations, certain colours, words and typefaces have different perceptions amongst customers, therefore it is important you use the correct ones to portray the right image. You have to display your brand in the best way possible. While this isn’t all down to typography, it does play a big part, so here are some expert tips on how to use it to your advantage:

1. Express Your Brand: Different typography has different connotations. For example, a big, beefy and bold typeface with bright in your face colours is a great representation for a retailer that sells outdoor kit or a restaurant that specialises in steaks, but it doesn’t match up with a luxury clothing brand or a refined tea room. Your brand is your businesses identity and you want people to get a sense of it before they set foot on your premises.

2. Make It Stand Out: Simply put, using bland typefaces doesn’t attract your eye or give customers anything to go on. Choosing to take advantage of typography gives your sign visibility in a busy world. Bright colours, big typefaces and clear language are all ways typography can help bring in business.

3. Guide Your Reader: The beauty of typefaces is that you don’t have to use just one. As we’ve established, different fonts and sizes can mean different things, and you can use this to move the attention of your reader. An example of this would be a clothes shop. What you want is for people to remember your brand name so they can recall it later when thinking of where to go shopping. However, you also want new customers to know what you offer. Therefore, by using a big typeface with personality identify your brand, combined with a more simple font style providing information about, you guide the reader; pointing them to the big you want them to remember, but allowing them to take in the practical information easily.

Things To Avoid

While it’s important to utilise typography, there are a few things you can do that might have a negative impact on your business and are therefore best to avoid:

• Contrasting Colours: Contrasting font and backgrounds, such as yellow on white, make signs difficult to read.

• Too Many Fonts: Using different fonts to convey different messages is important, but using too many is just plain confusing. Stick to two fonts, one for primary information, one for secondary.

• Unreadable Fonts: A fancy typeface might look elegant, but if it makes your sign hard to read, then avoid it. There are many lavish fonts out there, pick ones that combine both that element of sophistication and readability.