Small detail, big impact

Pay attention to little things like fonts — your subconscious does

There was an Amazon ad on TV yesterday. It featured the Kindle prominently all the way through, alongside laughing, beautiful young people, who were enjoying reading in unfeasibly cool social situations.

It was a pretty good advert. Not Apple-level good, but good.

But something about it bugged me. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but something just wasn’t quite right. Then I realised that it was the typeface — the advert uses a serif font, while every page on Amazon.com that I’ve ever seen uses a skinny sans-serif font.

I happened to like the font that Amazon used in the ad, but I wonder whether it’s some maverick marcomms manager bypassing the brand team, or if it’s just a new sub-brand style that hasn’t been pushed enough yet for me to associate it with Amazon. Either way, it’s a surprisingly important problem when you want your marcomms to be instantly recognisable.

Most consumers wouldn’t be able to articulate what was different, but I bet lots of people got the same slight yet distracting feeling of confusion or disquiet when watching it: because humans are good at basic pattern, colour and form recognition, and they latch on to even subtle tenets of a brand. That’s why brands like Apple and Coca-Cola and Orange are so careful about core brand elements such as colours and white space, and why we’re so fond of logo details like the “a to z” in Amazon’s own logo, or the subtle right-arrow in FedEx’s — all of which reinforce brand identities.

So, while talk of details like fonts, colours and logo spacing often make field marketers roll their eyes and mutter dismissively of “branding”, it’s worth us all spending the time to get the little things right. It’s not just those fake “Apple Stoer” (sic) in China that can undermine your hard-won brand — it could be your colleagues doing the damage, too.



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