• Transform magazine
  • October 20, 2017

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Opinion: "Fonts are core brand assets" says Bruno Maag

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Many languages lack the good-quality fonts that Western markets take for granted. Bruno Maag sees this as an opportunity for courageous brands to allow customers access to their fonts, benefiting communities and driving brand engagement

In fundamental terms, a business exists to make money and to provide a return to its investors, irrespective of the service or product it provides. To help with this activity, and subsequent monetary success, the business needs to clearly communicate who it is and what it stands for; the business needs branding. The more defined the brand values are, and the clearer they are communicated, the more successful the business will be.

The way that brands communicate with audiences has changed drastically over the last ten years. Social media has opened up a multitude of channels, not only for businesses to communicate with their customers, but also for customers to communicate, interact and identify with brands. The various written, visual and aural elements that carry the brand message offer consumers an increasingly rich and layered experience, but a brand still has an underlying communication method by which the user can identify the brand - the font.

People interact with typefaces and fonts on a daily basis and expect to have font choices available that are appropriate to the topic they want to communicate. The same applies to a brand where its tone of voice is one of the first touch points with its customers. The design of a brand’s font relays the emotional attributes of that brand in a very concise and effective manner to a wide variety of readers, embracing their accessibility needs. This creates an immediate and fundamental interaction between the font and the reader, supporting and reinforcing the brand message.

A brand font is a scalable asset, not only across different media, but also into global communication. The vast majority of the world’s population use a writing system other than Latin; through a multi-script font a brand has the opportunity to express its values across many languages. When created with sensitivity to culture, customs and expectations, it can be a powerful way to communicate across regions and markets. This is not only a valuable asset for the brand, it can also create a useful tool for communities that have a need for fonts which support their native tongue.

Many languages lack good-quality fonts that offer the variety in style and weight that Western markets take for granted. With global companies increasingly commissioning multi-lingual custom fonts, there is an opportunity for a courageous brand to allow customers access to their fonts. To give away such a valuable brand asset may seem like a ludicrous idea to some, but it offers a tangible benefit to communities, with a direct impact on brand engagement.

Unfortunately, many parts of the world don’t have access to fonts with satisfactory language support. Even then the fonts which are available are often of poor quality, which mars legibility and the pleasure of reading. This ultimately leads to young people finding it harder and harder to read and write in their native writing system - to such a degree that some prefer to use the Latin alphabet to transliterate their language. The lack of stylistic choices is also a contributing factor, as with a restricted typographic palette, it’s hard to create hierarchy and emphasis, ultimately hindering the meaning of the message.

A brand that offers customers access to a high-quality multi-script font would have a genuine positive impact. Improving linguistic support encourages younger generations to continue using their native writing system, which ultimately supports language and culture and the benefits to the brand are immediate and tangible. Not only is the brand’s name visible in the font menu of every user’s computer, but its appearance carries the brand's message everywhere - serving as a constant reminder of who stands out in the crowd, and who truly engages with people.­­ Engagement ultimately leads to a better return for investors.

Bruno Maag is chairman at Dalton Maag Ltd. Dalton Maag Ltd. are sponsoring the Transform North America conference on 27 October in New York City. This conference covers an abundance of topics including brand development, rebranding and reputation management. The full programme and more information on our fantastic speakers can be viewed here. To book, follow this link.

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