When I was walking in downtown Lake Forest IL the other day, I saw this sign and had to walk over to the business to figure out what they sold. Just glancing at the sign, you might think North Woods Candy and Pinecone Emporium. Or Cutsey Girly Things Sold Here. You would, however, be wrong. They are an audio and video store. Now, I’m sure they sell lovely audio and video products, but they make the perfect example of why typeface is important in design.

The font used for their sign is actually Papyrus. It, along with Comic Sans and Brush Script have such a reputation in the design community as over used fonts that we *almost* never use them. (I have a soft spot bordering on adoration for Brush Script, but that’s another post…)

But why? Aside from being over-used, why is this such a bad choice for this sign?

Because type tells part of the story about your business or brand. You’ve got the name of course, there are usually company colors, and sometimes the company name or logo has pictures associated with it. Those all help give the customers a clue about who you are. The font (or typeface) that you use is part of that story. And if it doesn’t match what you sell, or the image you are trying to project, people get confused.

Take the Intel logo:

intel logo


When you see it, you subliminally file it under “technology company”. Why? For one thing, the logo was designed in a sans-serif typeface. Because they are newer, people tend to think of sans-serif typefaces as more modern, or technology driven. Many tech companies also use the color blue. Think about it: AT&T, Microsoft, Samsung, along with relative newcomers Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, they all use blue.

samsung logo

ATT logo

Microsoft logo

facebook logo

linkedin logo



Several of them also incorporate movement. Twitter has an actual bird, while ATT, Samsung, and Intel all have swooshes or circles to make it feel like the company is moving forward. All of these elements help people quickly identify what type of companies they are, and what they do.

Obviously, these aren’t hard and fast rules, but they do show trends in how people think of different types of companies. A tech company logo will look very different from a knitting shop logo. Unless it’s a very futuristic knitting shop. I want to design that logo.


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