Can Fonts Make or Break Your Author Branding?

by Joel Friedlander on October 16, 2013 · 43 comments

Post image for Can Fonts Make or Break Your Author Branding?

Can the fonts you choose have an effect on your author branding?

That’s the question that keeps popping into my head as I drive around San Rafael the last couple of weeks. We don’t have many things to vote on, but one is a race for a seat on the San Rafael City Council, being contested by Maribeth Bushey Lang and Kate Colin.

How do I know that? Their election posters are side by side throughout town, and you can see them on a chain link fence in the photo at the top of this post.

Fonts Convey Information, Mood, and a Sense of Style

Obviously, the candidates themselves are probably not responsible for creating the graphics for their posters. But campaigns these days do put a lot of thought into the branding they establish for their candidates.

At the highest level, in presidential elections, high-powered advertising and branding agencies are given this task, and some of their work is memorable. Probably the strongest visual brand to emerge from politics in the last 10 years is the Obama “O” that adorns much of his promotional material.

branding

On a local level, which might parallel the efforts of indie authors, branding is conveyed by overall design, by color choices and, most forcefully, by the fonts selected.

Fonts have a long history due to the way typeface design has developed over the 500 years since its invention. Influences from the scribes who predated typography, to technical revolutions in papermaking and metallurgy, to fashions of the times have all had their effect on designs.

Today we have a bewildering number of typefaces to choose from, and working out how to use these fonts is one of the most difficult things to teach do-it-yourself authors.

Compare and Contrast

We can learn something about this from these campaign signs. Here’s the sign for Maribeth:

typography and branding

Some of the ways this typography communicates:

  • The top line is set in a very heavy, condensed sans serif typeface in upper and lower case letters, and is meant to convey strength.
  • The second line is set in a bold, normal sans serif, in all caps. This treatment might be seen to express clarity and precision.
  • The third line is set in a light sans serif typeface, once again in upper and lower case. This kind of type might be seen on a corporate report or sci-fi novel.

To my eye, this sign is fighting against itself. It’s as if the designer couldn’t decide which treatment he liked, and the effect of switching from one style to another 3 times in 3 lines of type expresses confusion more than anything else.

The sign also uses 3 colors for the 3 lines as well, with dark blue, white on purple, and black for the bottom line. Does that say “consistency” to you?

Isolating the second line with Maribeth’s middle and last name also emphasizes some unfortunate associations, like “What’s a bushey lang anyway?”

The solidity of the large stripe in the middle, which might give this sign some gravitas is undermined by the very weak, upper and lower case type below it. You can’t create solidity on a foundation that’s weak.

Okay, here’s Kate’s sign:

typography and branding

This designer had a completely different approach, using exactly the same elements.

  • The name is set quite large, using a classic serif typeface in upper and lower case. Some contrast is introduced by coloring the first and last name differently.
  • Colors are unified, with black type and white on a black background tying the upper and lower parts of the design together.
  • The bottom line, stretching across the entire sign, is set in letterspaced capitals in a sans serif typeface that’s clean and very readable at a small size.

Everything about this sign says “competence,” “organized,” and “tasteful” at least to me. The design balances well, with the one large element instantly readable, and supported by the solid, block-like base of the capital letters running along the bottom. This forms a solid foundation on which the entirety of the sign balances.

I know nothing about either of these candidates or their party affiliations. But, just from driving by them every day, I’ve already formed associations with each of the people behind the signs, and these associations are constantly reinforced.

In one case, it might be summarized as boldness but without a good foundation, and a confusion about the details. In the other, it’s a classical, balanced, holistic approach that’s emphatic without shouting.

Which would you vote for?

As indie authors, we should think about the kind of effect our font choices have, and whether they create associations that will work in our favor.

More on Branding

Author Branding: The You That Is Everywhere
Our Author Brand—The Choice Between Meaningful and Empty, Sad Imitation—Kristen Lamb
Do You Have the 5 Elements of a Powerful Personal Brand?—Michael Hyatt
Creating an Author Brand to Boost Your Platform—Matthew Turner
Microdomination: Branding, Content Marketing And Social Media With Trevor Young—Joanna Penn
What’s In A Logo? Plenty, If You Want To Be POTUS.—Anna Beth

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    { 39 comments… read them below or add one }

    Joel Friedlander November 8, 2013 at 3:40 pm

    I promised to let readers know what happened in the election, which was held this week.

    In the end there were 5 candidates for 2 seats on the council. Posters showed up very late for the 3 late entries, so Maribeth and Amy both had a large head start in name recognition. Here is the official result:

    Yes, they both won!

    Reply

    four waters November 8, 2013 at 5:20 pm

    : ) Kate, not Amy (“to my point” she said jovially : )

    Reply

    four waters November 7, 2013 at 9:45 am

    So I waited until the election was over to reply. Joel — over the years, I too, have read some of your work with appreciation.

    As a sole proprietor, I frequently engage in a solo creative process, so I genuinely appreciated your insight into the logo work for Maribeth Bushey Lang — which was mine.

    Now, I’d like to offer some of my own thoughts to the mix.

    Political identity development and general identity development share some comment characteristics to be sure, but political development includes additional factors. I’ve listed the reasons for some of my (very considered) choices below. Though as someone who’s done graphic work for 30 years (in widely ranging landscapes), and focused political message strategy and identity (including graphics) for the last 10, I will say that what is considered in a campaign can be much more nuanced.

    1. Maribeth was simultaneously campaigning, and in the middle of a personal transition. People knew her by one last name, while the other was legally necessary. We felt if we highlighted her first name we would overcome confusion. Looking at your comments and the comments on the list, we were successful.

    2. We work with a 3 second rule. The JOB of the sign is to be read. When someone is looking for a book, they are looking for a book. When someone is driving down a road, they are not looking for a sign. It has to be read easily in less than 3 seconds. That’s all! If its not legible in less than 3 seconds, you’ve failed. That is even more important (and the time becomes shorter) if your candidate has lower name ID. When the logo was designed, Maribeth had by far the lowest name ID of the, then, 3 candidates.

    3. We intentionally chose colors that were more accessible (than for instance blue and black). Maribeth is a sitting Administrative Law Judge for the PUC — both scary and intimidating. The colors were chosen to be inclusive, highlight that she’s a local mother, and be relevant in one of the topics we knew we’d focus on — that she would be only the 5th woman elected to the Council in 100 years.

    4. We juxtaposed the more feminine colors with a strong typefaces (Impact & Myriad pro).

    5. Colors were also picked so that doing a 2/c piece was possible (the darker color can be used for text and the colors gradiate well).

    To the person who says he doesn’t chose a candidate because of their logo, that is both true and not true. There is overwhelming evidence that people vote with their gut, using their head more to justify a decision that has already been made. Often the voter is less aware of this process. An identity can give you the feeling that someone is dependable, patriotic, local, accessible… many other things — all of which have meaning to the majority of voters. Also, as another writer pointed out, poor presentation can lead the reader to believe that the presenter is disorganized or untrustworthy — and disincline them to ever even read future. Identity development, when well-done, is an invitation .. not to everyone (because not everyone is either perusable or cares and you’re not talking to those people), but to those to whom you are reaching out.

    Obviously there are many other considerations, but those are for another day.

    Again, Joel, thank you for sharing your insight. Always welcome.

    (and yes, my name is actually four waters.)

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander November 8, 2013 at 3:12 pm

    Four,

    Thanks so much for your detailed and informative comment. Although I’ve never worked in political or campaign graphics, I’m a keenly interested observer. I have to say, I agree with just about everything you said here, and as I said in response to one of the comments, the very bold, compressed “Maribeth” is the most visible thing on either of these signs.

    “There is overwhelming evidence that people vote with their gut, using their head more to justify a decision that has already been made.”

    Yes, that seems exactly right. And it goes well with my reason for publishing this post: to get authors to think seriously about their own “branding” strategies.

    Thanks again for taking the time to respond.

    Reply

    Dan Swenson October 27, 2013 at 2:10 pm

    This is very timely, although I’d be interested in more book cover specifics. I’m working with a new artist on my second SF-themed cover. After I questioned the font, he said the font was only provisional and not part of the artwork described in our contract. He suggested I find a free font or hire someone to create a custom font. Not too pleased (this wasn’t an issue for my first cover), I searched through many on-line fonts, including at DeviantArt.com where I found many very sophisticated, custom fonts that are essentially pieces of art in themselves (3-D appearance, glowing appearance, complex patterns, etc.). In the end, the artist conferred with a co-worker who designs fonts, and we all agreed I would purchase the original, non-custom font which the artist will then try to tweak. For my budget, that was the best option, but I’m now aware fonts can be a whole artistic world in themselves, and my guess is that for covers viewed at full-size, a beautiful, custom font could add substantially to the impression of the overall cover. I’m sure media companies have long known this lesson, but for me, it was completely new.

    Reply

    Linton Robinson October 27, 2013 at 2:20 pm

    That’s really interesting. Dan. I’d like to know more about that process, too.
    I’d like to find out how they make “dingbats”… convert images to a font you can use in programs. I’m sure it’s the same process.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander October 28, 2013 at 3:36 pm

    Dan, for unique cover treatments it’s very common for publishers to hire lettering artists rather than go through the trouble of creating a new font. These artists add something to a cover and can create a whole “branded” look just with the title lettering.

    Reply

    Dan Swenson October 28, 2013 at 7:41 pm

    Thanks Joel. Any idea of what a lettering artist would typically charge for their part of a book cover? Are there any good sites for finding them?

    Reply

    Tim Gray October 29, 2013 at 3:16 am

    For a small self-publisher, though, I’d say this is an unnecessary expense and hassle. Just find a good quality existing font with a character/feel that fits your project, and use it well.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander October 29, 2013 at 9:19 am

    Tim, usage is everything. My favorite site for free high quality fonts is http://www.fontsquirrel.com

    Reply

    Tim Gray October 24, 2013 at 1:08 am

    I recently put together an e-course about “visual language” as part of your message, and colours, fonts and layout definitely do make a difference. Certainly in the context of a website promoting your work.

    For those who may be sceptical, a couple of notes.

    – Nobody is obliged to read what you say. So you want to remove every possible speedbump that might stop them getting there. That includes making your stuff look like it will be a pleasant reading experience, and congruent with your overall message.

    – Online, you’ve got maybe 3 seconds to convince people to hang around and read on. They’re not going to read much of your masterful prose in that time, but they are going to take in the visuals and have a gut reaction.

    Reply

    David A. Todd October 21, 2013 at 8:55 am

    In the 1970s or 1980s the British highway authority did an extensive study of road/highway signs, using real drivers. They learned that upper/lower case letters were more easily read at driving speeds than all upper case. This is probably due to our ingrained learning.

    BTW, you’ll see the gray silhouette you’ll see when this posts is because I’m tired of joining on-line sites/services and having one more organization sell my information, thereby loading me up with more spam. There has to be a way to get a picture up without joining another place.

    Reply

    deb October 17, 2013 at 11:50 am

    Hi – The glaring thing that I see on Kate’s banner is that it’s really hard to see what her last name is. The black color on top of the dark blue is too hard to read. So all I see is Kate and her last name seems weak.

    Reply

    Cathi Stevenson October 16, 2013 at 9:38 pm

    I did a load of research for an article that was published in the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) newsletter a few years ago and a good way to test a logo font or text on a sign is to blur the word(s). Blurring the word is helpful so you can get an idea of what it might look like to aging eyes, people without their glasses on, people scrolling down a page very quickly, and in this case, maybe cars driving by too fast to really focus. I have a version of the article on my site: http://bookcoverexpress.com/articles/text-legibility-readability/

    And if anyone is interested, here’s a link to those two signs after subjecting them to Photoshop’s Gaussian Blur: http://www.bookcoverexpress.com/politicalsigns.jpg

    Maribeth’s “b” and “i” don’t survive too well, and while you can see that word better, for some reason I can actually make out “Kate” faster simply because the upper and lower case letters are very easily recognized in my mind. I don’t like serif fonts on signs, though.

    Reply

    Linton Robinson October 17, 2013 at 10:02 am

    A fifth of Scorch works pretty well, too. :-)

    Reply

    Barbara McDowell Whitt October 16, 2013 at 10:58 am

    Joel, I am convinced the strong visual appeal of President Obama’s 2008 and 2012 “O” signs helped propel him into office twice. Both times I did my grassroots part by wearing a navy T-shirt with that emblem on it and got a remarkable number of one-thumb-ups from people who saw it prior to the election.

    Regarding branding, my online skills are quite basic, but I have managed to come up with photo gravatars for the platforms on which I post comments. I am surprised by the number of generic, head and shoulder symbols I see in place of photos with blog and website comments. Getting real images online seems important to me.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander October 16, 2013 at 11:37 am

    Barbara, interesting, thanks for the story. And your comment about avatars is right on. Who wants to engage with a person represented by a generic gray silhouette?

    Reply

    Laurie Ward October 16, 2013 at 12:14 pm

    A book without a cover? lol! Hopefully the engaging is based on the content/info not the photo. I just stumbled across this feed looking for a place to comment on your book design blog for BookBabies… didn’t see an option for a pic, but perhaps I was too focused on the subject rather than my personal branding : ) Even though my comments are supporting your views, you’ve managed to insult me and many of the people who left comments…? Where does that fall on your branding list of dos and don’ts? : ) Don’t worry I have no intention of having a blog, if my writing doesn’t sell itself it doesn’t deserve to propagate : )

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander October 16, 2013 at 12:23 pm

    Laurie,

    Thanks for your comment, and I apologize if it seemed like I was insulting you, that wasn’t my intention.

    You can sign up (free) and upload an avatar at http://www.gravatar.com and it will then propagate through all WordPress websites, which is quite handy.

    Reply

    Linton Robinson October 16, 2013 at 10:33 am

    Actually, it is nowhere even close to being the “crux or advertising”. That’s absurd.
    BUT…. again… this has NOTHING to do with typesetting a book. And even less than nothing to do with formatting an ebook.
    A lot of design and publishing people need to become aware of what century this is.
    And that advice helpful for business cards doesn’t mean much for novels.

    Reply

    Laurie Ward October 16, 2013 at 11:53 am

    I can’t wait to see your book : ) I speak from years of training in typesetting, graphic design and color theory and environmental design, and personal observation of the results of that training. I have thirty-five years experience in commercial graphic and exhibit design and fabrication, including copy writing and logo/promotional design and production. Feel free to scoff and ignore all you want, but design principals apply to every venue. The paper you choose- the density of the ink- every detail contributes to or detracts from your presentation. Keep us informed of your book sale numbers : ) If you’re writing instruction manuals I suppose it wouldn’t matter much… they have to read those : ) A good novel that is hard to read will not do as well as one that is a joy to read and pleasure to the eyes (and brain).

    Reply

    Laurie Ward October 16, 2013 at 10:17 am

    Linton, the effect of a font is similar to the effect of a color- it triggers a sub-conscious response in the viewer. The same goes for letter combinations in words… different camps of people will respond to buying “Crest” over “Colgate” toothpaste based on the appeal of the word/letter combinations. My family was a “Crest” family… “Colgate” looks masculine and industrial whereas “crest” looks feminine and nurturing. You might not consciously think about it, but every tiny detail from color to font to composition to line width and negative space either draws or repels particular groups of people… Ford vs. Chevy … “Crest” people will usually lean towards “Chevy/Chevrolet” as well. A great deal of psychological decision-making goes on in your head at all times based on what you see! Take a look around your house and then note your friend’s and neighbors choices – it’s kinda fun! And the crux of advertising!

    Reply

    Leslie October 16, 2013 at 10:16 am

    If you notice the font (a.k.a. typeface) first and the writing second you have chosen the wrong font. Choosing a font for a large sign is a different matter than choosing one for a book. The sign is more of a trademark than written prose.

    Reply

    Linton Robinson October 16, 2013 at 8:47 am

    Of course fonts cannot make or break a writer brand. CERTAINLY not “make”… let’s be real. “I love this author’s work, he uses such great fonts,”?????????

    Major movement in branding doesn’t really hinge on tiny subtle details like that.
    Most independent authors make almost all their money with eBooks, in which font choice is irrelevant.

    The analogy of the sign by the branding designer is not relevant to this argument. Of course people make judgements of a professional by their sign. They do not judge authors that way.

    Sorry, but this is just really over-reaching for significance.

    Reply

    Beth October 16, 2013 at 7:14 am

    I’m jumping in here to say that Maribeth trumps Kate because in that 6-second passby in a car, the ‘voter’ can easily see Maribeth. Kate’s sign is invisible in comparison. Yes, Kate’s sign is more classy, but could you read it in a thumbnail size? Joel, as an indie writer, I read your posts with affection to learn about covers and marketing. The analysis is interesting, but I think Maribeth knows her San Rafael voters a little better than Kate does. First name. Accessibillity. Caring. So, who won?

    Reply

    Linda M Au October 16, 2013 at 7:23 am

    Gotta agree with you on this one, Beth. Although the Kate sign might be slightly more aesthetically pleasing, there’s no way I’d remember that name going into a polling booth. The lettering is too thin. The last name is in a color too close to the background color. These signs are meant to do one thing: Stick a name in your head. And, around here, city council offices aren’t won by people who espouse this or that deep philosophy. It’s all about name recognition. Period. When you go into that polling booth, the only thing both campaigns want you to do is see those names on the ballot and *recognize* them as familiar. Familiar is what gets you elected.

    And, in this case, the name I’d remember more clearly would be Maribeth Bushey Lang.

    Pretty, lovely, and elegant don’t cut it in local elections. Just a memory long enough to get you to pull that lever or tap that icon or button.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander October 16, 2013 at 11:20 am

    I agree that the big “Maribeth” is the most visible element on both these signs, and I would guess that’s what the “designer” was going for. Who knows, maybe it will work. And as Linda says, name recognition can be crucial in these local elections.

    But, of course, the article isn’t really about local elections, it’s about paying attention to the decisions you make about your own branding.

    Reply

    Linda M Au October 16, 2013 at 11:29 am

    Agreed. I agree with you 99.9% of the time. In this case, I agree with your premise completely. But I just don’t agree with your example, because political signs (especially for local races without things like debates or commercials) are almost always about name recognition alone. (I’ve been involved in local politics here, and this is not only discussed outright but has plenty of evidence to support it.) I think the color choices on the Maribeth sign are unfortunate. Most experts say to stick with a red-white-and-blue scheme, if possible, for election signs.

    I do think the Colin sign (and I had to just scroll back up to check the spelling on that, by the way, which I did NOT have to do with the Maribeth Bushey Lang references) is much more pleasing to look at. But I’d never remember that name based on that sign alone.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander October 16, 2013 at 11:36 am

    Linda, I’m sorry if I wasn’t clear, but I agree with you 100% that the Maribeth sign is better for name recognition. And as I said above, this article isn’t really about elections or campaign signs, but encouraging authors to think about the decisions they make when it comes to branding.

    Reply

    chris October 16, 2013 at 6:36 am

    Looking at two issues as it relates to this post:
    1. Intent
    2. Branding

    1. Looking at the two posters, colors and fonts aside, give it the 2 two second approach meaning what immediately jumps out at me. In the first one, the person’s first name is larger than the others and in mixed case. She appears to be promoting “Maribeth” as if she’d be on a first-name basis with people after she was elected. Or, I can see it as informal and unprofessional meaning if she’s running for office, she needs to keep it professional.

    The second poster appears more professional. And here’s where @Jack might consider the importance of the signs. Some people don’t know who they are going to vote for until they actually cast their vote. And in the lesser elections, they might not know anything about the people running for office. Morality of that aside, every little bit matter. Every vote matters. And a sign is a reflection of the dedication of the individual. I’ve seen a few political signs that said to me, “I don’t care if I win.”

    2. Branding

    Branding is fonts, colors, integrity, moral standing, quality of work, graphic design, EVERYTHING that you want to reflect as the image of yourself or your company. Any areas that suffers, reflects poorly on your brand. I have seen so many blogs (personal and business) that contain embarrassingly amateur graphic headers (logos / brand / slogan) because their font and color choices looked like they were picked in 1982. Those sites could have great content but when I see those ugly headers, I’m not going to stick around because the way I see it…if the person isn’t going to create a respectable logo/header for their web site, that represents their brand, I doubt they will put that much effort into creating quality content. Right or wrong, that’s the effect. And that’s why branding is so important.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander October 16, 2013 at 11:16 am

    “Those sites could have great content but when I see those ugly headers, I’m not going to stick around because the way I see it…if the person isn’t going to create a respectable logo/header for their web site, that represents their brand, I doubt they will put that much effort into creating quality content. ”

    Well said, Chris, we are on the same page here.

    Reply

    Jeff Bach October 16, 2013 at 6:28 am

    Jack
    Hopefully a voter does dig into the issues and the positions of the people that are up for election. That written, I think that the importance of non-verbal communication (nvc) is one of the most understated issues in our culture. While this is mostly associated with body language, it applies to many other issues as well. In my opinion it applies to the example that JF uses in this blog post. Part of nvc is the fact that most people do not consciously recognize it or call it out as something they are aware of. But it nonetheless does register on some part of the old noggin.
    Of course the impact that nvc makes can vary from person to person and the context in which the cues are taken. But it is there. Google it and satisfy yourself. An awareness of nvc is probably the easiest way to negate its impact. In this example, for those voters who do vote but do not dig into issues, platform, etc. the subconscious impression that signage makes could well make up most of their voting decision.
    I think JF’s suggestion is right on. Prior to reading his opinion I stopped and looked at each of the signs. Left side as messy and rumpled. Right side was cool and clean. My first impression based on an initial view fell right in line with his rational explanation of why. Based on the signs I know where my vote would go.
    Fonts and layout are a big deal. Neither of them get much headline attention, but their impact, as with other aspects of non-verbal communciation is felt everyday by virtually everyone.
    my .02

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander October 16, 2013 at 11:14 am

    Thanks for that Jeff, and for introducing the idea of “non-verbal communication.”

    Reply

    Jack October 16, 2013 at 3:56 am

    Joel, you are a talented and knowledgeable artist whose experience and insight can be of value to both accomplished and aspiring writers. However, I must say that this article is of no consequence whatsoever to the intended office. Fonts have some weight in presentations. Some…not a lot. My decision to vote for someone has nothing to do whatsoever with the fonts they use on a poster. Nothing! I make decisions based not on appearance or symbolism but on substance. The same goes for books. I would not reject a book or website based on the fonts used. I will make two assumptions here that I am reasonably confident can be substantiated. First, both political candidates probably used competent designers to produce their promotional materials and they chose fonts and arrangements that you would not have used. The decision was theirs but you happen to disagree. Their reasons may be just as sound in their thinking as are yours in your thinking. Second, those who make their living wrangling over such subjective decisions have a vested interest in wrangling over such subjective decisions. We as readers and consumers do not. As such, design plays a part in branding, but only a part. It is the whole that sells the package and establishes a brand. A well designed box containing a poorly made product may sell one box but it will not create repeat business. The same goes for books. Interestingly, I happen to own several copies of Ian Flemings’ James Bond books. The covers are terrible from almost every design perspective, yet he sold millions of copies. It seems to me that consistency trumps design in almost every instance. A less than exceptional design still sells products when seen often enough in many places. That’s why you say political posters all over town.

    Reply

    Tracy Atkins October 16, 2013 at 7:25 am

    Jack,

    You are doing what you are supposed to do by looking past the packaging and deeper in to make a decision. However, there are a lot of people that don’t. There have been a lot of books that are sold by their covers alone, and sometimes people buy a car because it’s the right shade of blue. For those that don’t take the time to find out more, or just haven’t had the time/option/gumption to do so, packaging really matters. I would wager a fair number of people will cast a vote for one of those candidates with their only exposure being those signs. That is where it really counts. And if the election is a 1-2pt race that typography might actually made the difference between a winner and loser.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander October 16, 2013 at 11:13 am

    Jack, thanks for your thoughtful comment.

    “this article is of no consequence whatsoever to the intended office.”
    I believe elements like typeface selection and overall “message” communicated by graphics do have an effect, even if it’s not noticed consciously by the observer.

    “both political candidates probably used competent designers”
    Based on what I see on these banners and a lifetime working in graphics, I would disagree. One is competent, the other quite a bit less so.

    I’ve actually written here about books that were atrociously designed but sold huge numbers anyway. I don’t think that disproves the idea that the indie author, trying to be seen in a flood of books, ought to do everything they reasonably can to produce books that give them the best chance of success.

    Reply

    Michael N. Marcus October 16, 2013 at 1:39 am

    It’s not just typefaces. Election sign colors can be revealing, deceptive or uninformative.

    Sign color can be a convenient shorthand — instantly indicating party affiliation and hinting at platform and programs.

    Following the pattern of TV’s use of red states and blue states, until recently there seemed to be an informal agreement that Democratic candidates would have signs that were predominantly blue and Republicans used red. It’s ironic that conservative Republicans use red — often the color of communism and socialism. Maybe that’s why liberal Dems shun red signs.

    Now there is crossover. The Dem and GOP candidates for mayor here in Milford, CT both have blue-on-white. Both Obama and Romney used predominantly blue signs in 2012. http://stapletonion.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/signs.jpg

    Independents use whatever they want.

    Red, white and blue make a classic combo, but add to the printing cost. Green may indicate “green,” or not. I don’t think I’ve ever seen black or brown. Too dull? Yellow is seldom used. Does it indicate weakness?

    Maybe GOP or independents use blue to make voters think they are Democrats. Some candidate even avoid mentioning their party affiliation and use unconventional coloring, perhaps to avoid losing votes because of dislike for others in their party.

    http://publicradio1.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/newscut/files/legacy/content_images/lawn_sign_johnson.jpg

    Michael N. Marcus
    http://www.BookMakingBlog.com
    http://www.CreateBetterBooks.com

    Reply

    Colin Dunbar October 16, 2013 at 1:06 am

    Hello Joel

    I’ve read a heap on fonts, and I wonder if there’s any studies that have been done on things like this. Generally, regular folks (not in the graphic or book design fields) have very little to say about typefaces and teh effect of them. Just wondering.

    Cheers
    Colin

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander October 16, 2013 at 11:08 am

    Colin, I think a lot of people have written about this. Although “regular folks” don’t notice fonts the same way a designer would, I believe the fonts and other elements of graphic design do have an influence on people, perhaps unconsciously.

    Reply

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