Digital is Challenging Brands


Julie Strawson in Archive on March 3, 2011

Brand managers tell us the ideal scenario for a brand is to deploy consistent, pristine communications across all media: print, Web, mobile, TV, even into the home. But there are so many challenges for a brand to overcome to deliver a seamless journey that few are succeeding at present.

Once print was the principle platform to design for. Brand guidelines were created based on the requirements for printed material.  Now there are a plethora of digital platforms, browsers, tools and display formats and a different technical design ecosystem combining graphic designers, user experience designers and developers with little guidance on how to interpret their brand in these environments.

Reading Vincent Steer’s book Printing Design and Layout (first edition circa 1934) it strikes me that we’re at a similar inflexion point in the type industry now as it was then. In the 1930s competitive forces in the publishing industry and the growth of the advertising industry led to increased demand for different typeface designs. Printing technology demanded close attention to the then new art of typography to produce effective communications and increase sales.

The role of a typographer is to layout the message for optimum performance depending on the printing platform being used and the nature of the communication.

Today we have many different digital platforms to deal with and few typographers in the mix creating content. Achieving interactivity with a customer depends a lot on the discipline of typography.

Since font provision and support for typography varies so much on digital platforms taking brand typography forward is in itself a challenge. Web fonts have freed brands from the tyranny of system fonts giving yet system fonts still rule the fragmented mobile world.

While scratching the surface of the mobile market with the iPhone® device is relatively simple, capitalizing on the remaining 90 percent of the opportunity requires meticulous attention to detail in terms of planning language support and QA. It needs a truly global approach to development that begins with a consideration for typographic performance at the very start of a project, in the brand manager’s office, to be successful.

In the home, too, white goods are becoming the deepest consumer touch points yet. Whether deploying a digital user guide or relaying the latest TV commercial, there’s another opportunity here to delight and engage customers using light, on-brand content.

When considering brand consistency, consider all your touch points not each one in isolation.

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