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Why it is important to associate letterforms with emotions

D

esigning typefaces has become in recent years a sophisticated process. All major media brands invest heavily on corporate branding and design as a means of differentiating themselves from competitors. A typeface is equally important as it greatly influences the unconscious perception of the anticipated target audience. The visual personality of the typeface and its association to certain emotions and shapes is critical when it comes to attracting the right audience. A rightly tailored typeface, which reflects the essence of the brand, creates a consistent visual identity which strengthens the product and projects an attractive and easily perceived personality.

Along these lines, I was called some time ago to design a typeface series for an international fashion magazine for women. First published in 2010, the type system Regal was later revamped and redesigned for commercial use. Ever since, Regal has won 9 major international awards including the prestigious RedDot Grand Prix 2012.

The Brief
According to the brief, this typeface had to be elegant, luxurious, sexy, vibrant, reflect the female sensitivity and take into consideration a modern woman who is more proud, more connected, more spontaneous, open-minded and eager to try a whole host of new products and services.

The Solution
Targeting this consumption-wise and well-educated woman, required a typeface that is not strictly based on classic forms, but incorporates several distinct elements that express a modern woman’s personality and the products she consumes. Eventually, Ι set out to design a whole series of 5 related superfamilies which not only emphasize femininity but also reflect both the romantic as well as the dynamic side of the female personality.

In order to associate the desired emotions and psyche with the characteristics of the typeface, the following design decisions were implemented:  
•  elegant curvy details were introduced in order to establish a link to the female physique (fig. 1);
•  teardrop terminals which reflect a woman’s sensitivity (fig. 2);
•  pronounced quirks on upper and lower arms for her eyelashes (fig. 3);
•  high-contrast, sharp corners at thinning terminals for her high heels (fig. 4);
•  alternate glyphs for the woman who prefers to express her individuality -rather than slavishly follow trends- by using various accessories which can dramatically change her appearance (fig. 5);
•  elegant endings and long curves to reflect her predisposition to dream (fig. 6);
•  bell-shaped serifs with an inward rather than outward direction reminiscent of streamlined seventies fashion which is currently making a comeback (fig.7). 

Figure 1. elegant curvy details establish a link to the female physique

Figure 2. teardrop terminals reflect a woman’s sensitivity

Figure 3. pronounced quirks on upper and lower arms for her eyelashes

Figure 4. high-contrast, sharp corners at thinning terminals for her high heels

Figure 5. alternate glyphs for the woman who prefers to express her individuality with various accessories

Figure 6. elegant endings and long curves to reflect her predisposition to dream

Figure 7. bell-shaped serifs with an inward direction reminiscent of seventies fashion

Figure 8. Sample specimen of Regal Pro

Conclusion
Other than the fact that it helps you read, typography is a form of art for some, a craft for others, but definitely a tool which you can use to make a product look better, useful, sexier, trustworthy. Typography targets your subconscious perception, works in the background but affects the foreground, the world in front of you.

 

by Panos Vassiliou