Monday, February 4, 2008

It's all about fonts, for a change

Will the presidential nominees be decided by their choice of font?

One of the most important thing I learned in my years of designing and selling invitations is that the choice of font contributes enormously to the emotional impact of an invitation. As I always told my clients, “fonts have feelings.”

Using a font that looks like a ransom note, for example, may be appropriate on a surprise birthday invitation but probably wouldn’t be right for a wedding or a retirement party. Fonts that are straight up feel different than slanting fonts - look at the difference between regular Georgia (that's the font used on this blog) and Georgia in italic, for example. Similarly, an invitation in a very formal and intricate script-type font will have a different feeling than the same invitation with a newspaper-type block font.

Bat Mitzvah Framed Keepsake 12x12
This invitation successfully combines a block and script font. See more samples of bat mitzvah invitations at

So what does this have to do with the presidential election?

The emotional connection that people make with fonts undoubtedly was considered by each of the major candidates for the Democratic and Republican presidential nominations in designing the graphics for their campaigns. A few days ago, the Boston Globe published an analysis of the candidates' logos to see which fonts were more effective in promoting the idea of “change,” something that has been embraced by so many of the candidates as a central theme of their campaigns. This fascinating assessment, written by Sam Berlow and Cyrus Highsmith of The Font Bureau, highlights the subtle and not-so-subtle influence of the chosen fonts on how voters decide which candidate to support.

The presidential race is evolving so rapidly that several of the candidates mentioned in the article are no longer in the running. Who knows what impact the fonts in their logos had on their lack of success in winning the nomination?

So on the eve of Super Tuesday, I thought it would be interesting to pass along their article, which draws an interesting conclusion: “If we were to predict the results based on typography and design, we would pick McCain and Obama.”

By Wednesday morning, we will have a great deal more evidence of how accurate their analysis is.

If you’re in a state with a primary election tomorrow, don’t forget to vote! And if you’re still undecided, maybe this information will help you make your choice.

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