Typefaces that Served us Well in 2012

  • by Christine Batta
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As we plow through the end of the first month of 2013, we are able to take a moment to remind ourselves of some of our fond memories from 2012. And because we love what we do here at SW Creatives, those memories involve designing. And because we are designers, that fondness involves typography.

It is valuable to remember why we applied a specific typeface in certain cases so that we focus not just on the the character that gets us excited but also on the functionality of the visual expression. Of the typefaces we put to work in 2012, we were able to determine our top 3.


Avenir for NAACP Restore the Votes

The sans-serif Avenir was a star player in the Restore the Votes campaign we designed for the NAACP to promote awareness about voter disenfranchisement of former felons. The messaging of the campaign, "They made mistakes. They did their time. They deserve to vote." and "Restore the Votes," required a delicate balance between humanizing the disenfranchised voters and generating empathy for being denied their civic voice while also aggressively demanding action of the viewer. As a geometric sans-serif, Avenir's simplicity, sound architectural principals and lightness even at its boldest weights crystallizes the ideas and intentions behind the campaign as clear, luminous truths. When we expanded the initial billboard campaign design into a 44-piece Station Domination design for Reagan National Airport metro station, Avenir was stunning in its function as a commanding, kinetic link between all the different posters, signage and pillars dominating the station.

Trade Gothic

Trade Gothic for United Way and Fraud.Org

An advertising favorite first cut back in 1948, Trade Gothic came forward in two different contexts in our 2012 work. As part of United Way's brand, we admired the crisp force of Trade Gothic's condensed versions that we were able to craft to our advantage for several programs and reports. For infographics, charts and headings Trade Gothic helps lead the reader through dense or complicated text with a reliable certainty. In the bright core United Way colors of orange, red and blue, Trade Gothic activates the page without pulling away from the reading experience. When used for setting a logo such as in the case of the new logomark for the resourceful Fraud.org website, Trade Gothic's durable condensed, vertical marks communicated the authority and trustworthiness that we needed to achieve on first impact. In a more classic palette of grays and reds in subtle gradients, Trade Gothic keeps the logomark energetic and forward-looking.

Chaparral Pro

Chaparral Pro for Family Services, Inc.

Chapparal Pro helped set the inviting tone for celebrating the accomplishments of a legendary nonprofit for the 2012 Family Services, Inc. Annual Report. The hybrid slab-serif typeface by type design rockstar Carol Twombly really shows off its graceful, compassionate spirit when used at larger sizes to highlight stories from program participants. Chapparal gives motion and depth as a stand-in for the human voices telling their compelling stories and authentic experiences. As body copy, its legibility and charm engages a relaxed reading experience. We may have had a few shared 'oos' and 'ahhs' in the office over the allure of this under-exposed charmer.

What's Next?

While we might be just as pleased to find new applications for these powerful typefaces, there are so many challenges to look forward to in 2013 to pair typographic expression with the stirring stories of our nonprofit partners.