To most people, typography is something that happens inside a computer. Fonts, weights, point sizes, serifs and sans serifs are things that your computer just delivers to you and you can manipulate them as much or as little as your IT skills allow. But to a designer, typography is something as essential to them doing their job as a trowel is to a bricklayer, a wrench to a car mechanic or a hammer to a carpenter. There is a lot more than meets the eye when it comes to designing typography than you might think and as designers, we need to be sure that we are typographically aware and able to manipulate letterforms creatively with balance and style.
Every year about this sort of time, something happens in Lichfield where Design Pit is based. Something happens that demonstrates the importance of excellent typographic design and is in plain sight of the entire population of the city and all that visit. And this prime example was something created 7 years ago right here at Design Pit.
Lichfield Greenhill Bower is an annual May Day celebration that dates back centuries to the time of Henry II. There was no standing army at this time, and there was a call to arms when the Kling needed troops to defend the realm. The King set up the Commission of Arraye which listed the able bodied men throughout the Kingdom. Lichfield held its “Court of Arraye” on Whit Monday every year at Greenhill where a Bower House was erected and men at arms were summoned before magistrates to be accounted for. After this commission, the men were paraded around the streets of the city in celebration; a tradition that in one form, still stands to this day. This is where the origins of the modern day Bower come from.
Skipping forward a few years, in 2012 Design Pit were brought in to rebrand the Bower and create a consistent identity that would reposition the celebration as a major Bank Holiday attraction for the city. We worked with the committee to design and develop a series of graphics and a distinctive logo that embodies everything about Lichfield’s longest standing tradition. Our work is still in use today and every year large display boards are positioned in and around the city to promote the event, with our logo design as the prominent feature.
The Bower logo is a great example of typographic excellence. The balance in the kerning (space between letters) and the way serifs join or chop through each other to neatly stack the words together and form the logo is the end result of a process that took hours of thinking, sketching, reworking, rethinking and reworking again.
From the image above, you can see where we have carefully and subtly manipulated the typography to shape and form the stacked logo. The letterforms sit together, line up and wrap around each other to give the logo structure and balance. Below are some of the key features of manipulation to demonstrate in more detail close up.
The letter G in greenhill wrapping around the letter O in Bower gives the logo a focal point. It allows us to neatly position the central word on top of the main name (Bower) and carries Lichfield on the very top of the logo as well. A lot of the placement for the logo stems from this 3 dimensional link. The serif of the G also chops into the serif of the letter R which allows us to pull the kerning back to balance the space between these two letters.
Linking base line serifs also plays a part in equalizing the space between the letters and bringing balance to the composition.
A problem with kerning with this typeface (Clarendon) so tightly, was that when we pulled back the letter F and I began to interfere with one another. So we embraced this and made a feature from it…
The alignment of letterforms is a big factor in balance of a typographic logo. Here you can see where we carefully place and align the letters along a straight vertical or horizontal line…
As you can see, typography is something that should be carefully considered and it is definitely not something that “happens” inside a computer. Brand marks such as the Bower logo have all been crafted with a level of attention to detail that is often overlooked by many. Great typography is always subtle but bad typography usually stands out from a mile!
Check out some of our favourite famous (and not so famous) typo logos below…
The FedEx logo is famed for intelligent use of negative space within the typography; a true classic and typographical triumph!
Negative space within letterforms and shapes can create new letters out of nothing.
Sun Bear Vodka is a brand that we designed recently and features some subtle use of imagery within the typography. A claw shape extenuates the serif in the classic font.