Process // Entry Number Three — Monotype and Midnight Oil
So...I really love drafting type. It's pretty freaking peaceful, man; the closest analog to it, in my mind, is probably calligraphic meditation...of which I have yet to try, but it's on my bucket list!
I use to write really crappy poetry in my early twenties, and if anything worthwhile came out that period in my life, I would have to say it was an avid appreciation of words themselves, their shape, the sounds our mouths make when we speak them, how they affect us psychologically and how they influence our decisions and emotional responses. That wasn't the only thing that lead me to want to learn type design, but it sounds the prettiest.
But seriously, typography can legit affect how you feel about the environment around you on a subconscious level; type is everywhere and without those little fellas, our world would look like something out of a Stanley Kubrick film. The average person totally takes typography for granted!
RANDOM NERDY FACTS ABOUT TYPOGRAPHY!
1. Typography can make people trust you.
Experiments show that people are more likely to believe information set in Baskerville, versus text in Georgia, Computer Modern, Helvetica, Comic Sans or Trebuchet. So, why Baskerville? Cornell University professor David Dunning thinks Baskerville has a British sense of formality and solemnity that enhances its credibility.
Fancier fonts and typefaces are associated with more skill in certain professions; in one study, diners who received menus with fancy fonts assumed the chef had more skill. Diners who received menus with simpler fonts did not attribute as much skill to the chef. Cwaaaaazy, right!?!?!?!? :-D
...too much, enthusiasm?
...okay...I'm sorry. How about just one more, eh?
2. Typefaces have "personality."
The top three fonts to reach people who have stable personalities are Times New Roman, Arial and Cambria; compared with Impact, Rockwell bold and Georgia for assertive people, and Gigi, Kristen and Rage Italic for creative types. The same study as the one linked above shows that people attribute personality to fonts, except for Modern Display and Monospaced, which are the font equivalent of wallflowers.
Sidenote: A typeface is a family of fonts (ex. Times New Roman). A font within the Times New Roman family would be Times New Roman Bold.
When it comes to my work as a designer, one of the things that I like to do to set myself apart from my design peers (in Spartanburg at least) is hand draft the logotypes and typefaces I create for my clients. The personal touch is always appreciated and makes my clients feel like the substantial investment was all the more worth it.
Which brings me to my latest client commission, Benefact, a human resource company...
I've always likened myself to be a non-profit / arts org based brand designer; I've never tackled cold corporate collateral before. So since I'm looking for agency and in-house work currently, I wanted to get into the habit of hanging out in that world. And also because, I mean, nonprofits most certainly tend to live up to their namesake in my experience. I want dat corporate money!!
This is how the Benefact liaison described their initial thoughts in the brief:
“We are not interested in characters, designs with emphasis on multi-colors, or fancy text. We are simple, bold, inventive and a leader in our industry.
Important note, we want to keep it clean and simple, yet bold and complex...make sense?
(no...it doesn't...but that's okay. It's my job to flesh these things out, not the client)
In addition, we want customized text, something that our company can use as an identifier when the font is used regardless of what the word says.”
...aaaaaand that's all I got. Needless to say Benefact doesn't have much of a personality, at least not before I got a hold of'em...but we're working on it...were working on it.
Sidenote: It's amusing whenever a client tells me they're looking for something “simple”...tee hee...so cute ^_^
But anyway, I toke what little bits of information they game me and I proceeded with the usuals:
/ case study research
/ googling for inspiration
/ figuring out what Human resource marks currently look like
/ separating the decent from the terrible (and most were extremely terrible)
/ studying what what typically works about them and what doesn't
/ pulling inspiration from unlikely sources
/ making word webs and blah, blah, blah...
I came to the conclusion that visually moving away from what is typically expected from HR branding w/out alienating their base or misrepresenting the nature of the business, was the goal.
Benefact's motto is “Might is Right.” The way this was explained within the brief was that Benefact sought to communicate to their clients a sense of earnestness — that Benefact would always “do what's right no matter what” for their clients and their clients' employees.
Seeking out ancient, tried and true symbols of trust, security and altruism in which to draw inspiration from became my focus — shields, knots, fruit, blocks of solid stone, etc etc. I based my approach for building a mood board on Benefact's local, small town focus. To differentiate Benefact from the typically cold law firm/bank feel of most HR marks, I ended up skimming through old references I saved from non-profit based brand identities that I worked on in the past, as well as pulling influence from well established identities like Red Cross Blue Shield.
In the end the three pillars that I would build the new Benefact mark upon would be:
/ Grapes and or grapes on a vine — symbols for altruism and charity in ancient Roman culture and in the
Christian bible, as well as being a pleasing shape found in nature.
/ Precise cuts of solid stone — with particular emphasis on postmodern architecture as a reference point.
/ And the color red, as it represents urgency, passion, strength, and action
The influence of grapes on a vine heavily influenced the shape of the letter B. It most likely won't be obvious to any who looks at it, to be honest. My technique tends to be a process of aggressive abstraction without losing the essence of what makes a particular shape of the object (not necessarily the object itself) appealing.
After settling on the "B," the rest of the letters took shape from that foundation. The influence of clean and precision cut stone slabs informed the 35° angled cuts on each letter. The idea was to combine a comforting shape found in nature with the precise and structural integrity of something man made/hand carved.
There's possibly some kerning and other general tweaks still to make, but I sent the draft off to the client around 5:35 am this morning, so now...I nap! Hopefully I'll have a response from Benefact by the end of the day!
Good night mofos!