/ Why is typography so important?

As graphic designers, we hear the word typography all the time. What is typography and why is it so important?

Typography is the art of designing and arranging letters in order to create a word. Depending on its weight, width or height, a letter needs to convey a different feeling. For example, a thick serif (semi-structural details at the end of some of the strokes that make up the letters and symbols) letter on top of, and right next to another one, will give a sense of claustrophobia and won’t be legible. On the other hand, a thin, sans serif (without the serif) type, spaced equally, will be more fluid and easy to read.

Steve Jobs knew the power of typography and used it to differentiate his Mac from his competitor. He knew that people were looking for a simple way to communicate and express their feelings. Therefore, Steve Jobs asked Susan Kare to design a bunch of fonts (Geneva, Monaco, San Francisco) that were legible on the computer as well as in print.

So the question is “how to design a good typeface?”

During my third year of college, I was very fortunate to have the legendary typographer, Ed Benguiat, as my teacher. He has designed over 600 typefaces, namely: Avant Garde, Tiffany, Bauhaus, Panache, Souvenir and the famous Benguiat, which is seen everywhere.

There were only five of us in his class, so it was almost like having a private tutor. He taught us how to use our fingers and eyes properly. The tools needed were: a pen, a sheet of paper, the iconic Xacto knife, glue and nimble fingers. Then, we started drawing a letter, measuring its weight with a piece of paper; to be sure it was proportional and well-balanced. If not, we cut a part, glued another one, measured and cut again. This resulted in a perfect solution that can be used in creating a whole alphabet.

The power of Coca Cola resides in its logotype (logo based out of typography). The logo has never changed since 1885 (compared to Pepsi, one of its competitors, which has changed its logo eleven times) and established itself worldwide by extending its typography to other languages. As an example, Coca Cola stills conveys the same message in Hebrew, adopting the same italic, cursive and fancy style as in the English alphabet.

Consistency and ability to adapt are key components to successfully create a good typography associated with a brand.


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