We are so used to type all over everything that it’s commonly taken for granted. Today, I’m just going to talk about what type brings to the table as far as the influence it can have on packaging in a retail setting. Let’s look at a couple examples of “packages” with just type and no other design elements.
As you can see, there is something wrong here. The more macho message has the decorative typeface, and the flowery scented message has the stronger (bolder) typeface. The fact that the messages and the typefaces don’t match up illustrates that type does have some influence on the tone of a design. This likely does not come as a surprise in an example as simple as this, but how about the examples below?
This picture is set in Helvetica, one of the most widely used typefaces since the time it was born in the 1960s.
And this is set in Caslon, another of the most widely used typefaces since it came into use in the 18th century.
The above shows two very different typefaces, but it’s not as easy to explain the differences in terms of how masculine and feminine they are. Even though the typographers who designed the typefaces have very different end goals in mind, either one of the typefaces could work in a given context. Perhaps you could say that the Helvetica package has a more practical and no-nonsense tone, and the Caslon package feels a bit traditional.
It’s simple to see why this is so important in packaging. If you lose a potential buyer’s attention for any part of the few seconds he or she is scanning the shelves, you’ve likely lost the sale. The design of the package needs all of its elements to work together to communicate quite a bit of information clearly and concisely. It’s important to remember that typography is a big part of it.