Building Brand Trust in Digital Media


Julie Strawson in Archive on April 28, 2011

One of the first brands to recognize that typography was core to their brand was the famous newspaper, The Times (London). Seeing the efficiencies and distinctive cost advantages that could be achieved by customising their typeface to suit their production environment, they also aimed to use the typeface to set a tone that was consistent with their brand. The Times New Roman® typeface most of us have touched at some point in our lives was born. As technology continued to evolve, so The Times developed their typefaces to suit the production environment transitioning the brand successfully across print, Web and most recently mobile platforms.

Since that time, many global brands have used type to create a unique brand identity. Think of Dyson, Honda, Intel or Orange and you can instantly visualize the company name in the style of their typeface. Newspapers and magazines are reinventing themselves again to serve readers who prefer their news online and on-the-go.

When a typeface is used consistently the style of communication from that company becomes lodged in the reader’s sub-conscious. Customers become unwittingly attached to the style and feel that they can trust the communication.

In a UK study of 2000 consumers conducted by Opinion Matters and commissioned by Monotype Imaging, 86 percent of respondents said if they received a message from a source they often use but it appeared in a different font, they would not trust it.

The effect of on-brand Web design

Recently The Times, reported 21% increase in brand recall and 18% uplift in message recall in their pay-walled original content Website. They also measured higher ratings compared to other sites for measures such as clarity, exclusivity, engagement and ‘premiumness’. The strategy of designing a Website as close to the newspaper in look and feel undoubtedly had something to do with this.

An industry wide study by the Association of Online Publishers in December 2010 showed that consumers had a more positive brand opinion on original content sites than portals and social media sites. The study revealed new measurement criteria for the online brand environment that are all delivered through site design and correct use of brand assets: trustworthiness (recognition of and confidence in a brand); authoritativeness (consistent, reliable thought-leadership); its uniqueness (original content); its community (featuring like-minded user forums); and how entertaining the site is.

AOP and The Times research

Download Dan Rhatigan’s Times Modern in Modern Times talk here for more about the bistory of typography at The Times (London) newspaper.

MP4 (61.5 MB) | WMV (62.9 MB)

Download UK Visual Trust research

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