In the last Apple Keynote, June 2nd, dedicated to presenting the latest news about the software i0S 8, OX Yosemite announced that ‘Helvetica neuve’ was going to be the font of operating system that the Apple brand is going to release briefly. The grand collection of Apple fans spoke out immediately, through all social media networks, expressing their opinions and passions on the subject. Not a surprise to us, right?

With this post I want to invite you all to reflect on how much we use and enjoy the infinite number of fonts that we have at our disposal today.

The latest evidence shows that the distinct types of letters convey different and various meanings that instill and provoke in us some emotions and others regardless of the words that they contain. I think this change is critical, fundamental, and very important from the design point of view. Letters, their shapes, curves and straight lines, their sizes and thicknesses acquire their own personality and have much more potential than we can imagine.

I have a few studies on my hands that address this idea and highlight the importance of some fonts well-liked by some and very criticized by the majority of others. On of them, from 2004, was published in IEE Professional Communication Society and presented a study titled, ‘Why people perceive typefaces to have different personalities.’ It was written by two professors at the University of Minnesota in which 63 students were asked to classify 15 common fonts using different personality characteristics. The results were… obvious? Let’s see.

Times New Roman turned out to be a font associated with professional and formal character, but also very common. Lucida Console was described as futuristic, due to its odd spacing. Apple’s favorite, Helvética, was described as ‘heavy’ and ‘without emotion.‘ Script also received the same descriptions, but the students redeemed it, categorizing it as ‘the most elegant.’ The worst were Courier New that resulted to be ‘less pleasant’ and Comic Sans (yes I have not forgotten it) that simply is called ‘a little formal’ and ‘too childish.’

The Comic Sans Case

And now that I am addressing the issue of the different fonts, I couldn’t forget to mention the curious case of ‘abuse’ that Comic Sans has suffered. As explained to ICON Alex Trochut, grandson of the typographer Joan Trochut.

“Comic Sans is not a bad font, but it has been used badly.”

The example could be compared to someone entering a morgue with a hawaiian shirt and a duck float. The problem is not the clothing, it’s the place where it’s used.

And by now, when Comic Sans is 20 years old and the pace of criticisms has diminished considerably, it has become one of the cultural icons in the world of graphic design, someone wanted to bring it to light, but this time to make it shine as it deserves. Craig Rozynsky, an Australian designer has redesigned the font, and renamed it as ‘Comic Neue’ and this site has returned to put it back in the mouths of all.

Then, how important is the role of font?

Little by little we are all understanding and improving the selection and types of fonts that we should use depending on tone, personality, and emotion that we want to convey in our message. This is a very important part that’s linked to our brand, whether it’s our organization or staff. We cannot forget that each source has its own personality and this personality can influence (for better or for worse) the message that we are sending.

Written by Blanca Pérez
Translated by Emily Smith, INUSUAL intern

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