Finding Power and Voice Through Typography

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Can the choice of a particular font include political and ideological implications? This is precisely what attendees tried to uncover at Typography and Power, a two-day conference where participants examined how type and print influence the political realm. Inspired by this conference, Fastcodesign.com recently published an article, “In the Political Realm, Typography is Power,” examining the significant political power of typography, specifically the DIY type design found on protest signs all over the country dating from the 1960s to present day.

As designers and strategists, this question intrigued us, as brand identity is strongly influenced by choice of color, logo, and of course, by type. Every firm uses a specific font or typeface to strategically communicate something about its brand.

For example, Cisco uses a typeface that was designed specifically for their company, “Cisco” and “Cisco Serif,” font types that are considered wider, and more approachable than earlier typefaces used by the technology brand.

The management consulting firm, Accenture, uses “Rotis semi-sans,” a typeface that is also used for all the highway and street signage in Singapore. A German graphic designer, whose goal was maximum legibility through a highly unified format, developed the typeface in the late 1980s. The use of this font highlights the firm’s dedication to performance, results, and innovation.

Symantec, a security software developer, uses “Trade Gothic,” a typeface often used by magazine and newspapers, as it portrays sturdiness and simplicity. It is spacious and legible, while dependable and industrious. We use the typeface on our website, for these very reasons.

Just as political advocates and protesters find their distinctive voice through font, so too do brands. The choice of a specific font can speak volumes about a brand’s personality, whether that be dependable and simple through Trade Gothic, or legible and accessible like Rotis semi-sans font or typeface can make all the difference in effective messaging.

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