Tuesday, April 24, 2012

What your font says about you: League Gothic and Cooper Black

First off, let me say that I know not everyone has an eye for design.  I know not everyone thinks about fonts, dreaming about x-heights and ligatures.  I do, however, think that people should have at least some sense of what makes for a good font choice.

Case in point: each morning as I walk into work, I see a sign that I designed for the current "Exam Cram" event at the library, during which the library is open for 24 hours to give students a place to study through the night.

A simplified architect's lamp paired with League Gothic makes for a distinct look.  League Gothic has weight, but also a bit of sophistication to give it a more authoritative feel.  This look, even with the colors, says, "Time to get down to business."

Enter the other sign with the specific hours listed.  In Cooper Black.

While this has a heaviness to it somewhat similar to League Gothic, the contrast of thick and thin along with the playful roundness of the serifs give it a more playful, cartoonish feel.  If you don't believe me, then take a gander at where Cooper Black has been used in the commercial world:

The playful feel of Cooper Black is perfect for Garfield the Cat, especially when you consider it's heftiness.  As far as easyJet goes, they're going for that playful feel, while also asserting their presence using the weight.  Used with the emotion of the font in mind, Cooper Black can be effective.  If I were designing a cartoon book for kids or the box for a game, I might use Cooper Black.  I might even use it if I were working in a public library for an event for kids or in the juvenile section.  In the university library, however, not so much.  Cooper Black says something to the public about us as an institution that doesn't reflect who we believe we are.  

As we look forward to a new building, we're also trying to build our brand.  I'm doing a bit of research on this, thinking about what type of emotion we as an organization want to put out into the campus and the public at large.  Is the authority of League Gothic the way to go for everything here on out?  Or do we need something with more open space, something not so condensed.