What Is Your Font Trying to Say?

Several years ago, the U.S. public was fascinated by the television show “Who Do You Think You Are?” This smash hit took television and other famous personalities on a journey to discover their ancestry. Discovering these secrets often changed these celebrities’ perception of themselves.

Did you know that fonts have an ancestry, too? Typographers designed almost all of the classic fonts for specific purposes. Let’s look at just a few.

Venetian book printer Aldus Manutius invented italic type, not because he wanted to stress everything, but because it was the best way to fit all of a book’s text into a “pocket edition.”

The British newspaper The Times commissioned the creation of Times Roman after font designer Stanley Morison criticized the paper for its poor typography.

AT&T designed a popular sans serif face Bell Gothic in 1938 for its telephone directories. Its goal? Legibility and economy of page space, two vital elements of a good phone book.

Charles de Gaulle International Airport developed Frutiger, another popular sans serif, for airport signage. The goal was for travelers to quickly and easily read it from a distance.

Closer to home, Highway Gothic, the official font of the U.S. Federal Highway Administration, spawned the creation of Interstate. Typographers subsequently modified it to use at smaller sizes, and perhaps in colors other than white on green.

Some typefaces outlive the technology for which typographers created them. People who have never even seen a typewriter often use Courier, which was designed for IBM typewriters. It still evokes a “home made” feel, even though few homes actually have typewriters anymore.

So next time you look at a font, remember that it was designed for a purpose. We hope that providing insight into some of these purposes will entertain you, spark your creativity, and provide insight into how to best utilize them.


“Make It Easy for Me to Buy”

Want to boost responses to your marketing campaigns? Here is a simple tip. Tell people what you want them to do and make it easy for them to do it.

One of the most common mistakes marketers make, especially in direct mail, is burying the offer or forgetting to include a call to action. So get it out there. Every direct mailer or direct marketing piece should contain the following three elements:

1. The offer. What do you want people to do? Make a purchase? Call for a free consultation? Ask for the free information kit?

  1. The call to action. Don’t assume people will know what you want them to do. Ask them to request a brochure, call for a free appointment, or sign up by scanning a QR Code.

3. Response mechanism. Make it easy to respond. If you are asking them to send away for more information, prefill the BRC with their name, addresses, and other information. If you want them to make a phone call, put the phone number to call in larger font or in a different color so it’s easy to find.

Assume that your audience is busy and you only have a few minutes of their time. Within just a few seconds of scanning the piece, they should know what you are selling, what action you want them to take, and how to do it.

Need help? Give us a call!