The Power of Fonts

Posted by | June 20, 2010 | Design, Services | No Comments

iLDAD? or iLOAD?

I was driving down the M2 Hills Motorway a couple of days ago when a white van pulled in front of me. I noticed the Hyundai logo and then the van's model name. I thought it said "iLDAD". Ill dad? Blimey, I said to myself, that's a strange model name. Maybe something got lost in the translation from Korean.
Austin Allegro

Austin Allegro

Ah, but wait. I tailgated the van for a moment or two just to read the name more clearly and realised it said "iLOAD". The font that was used featured an "o" with square corners. Had someone in Hyundai been channelling the designers of the ill-fated 1970s Austin Allegro with its quartic steering wheel? (For the unenlightened, the quartic steering wheel wasn't round. It was rectangular with slightly rounded corners. I suspect it caused many bruised thighs and was a key reason for the Allegro's lack of sales. There is a reason why steering wheels are round.) The upshot was that it was hard to tell the "O" and "D" apart. A classic case of not thinking carefully before choosing a font or typeface.

similar but different... not quite the Hyundai font but the same effect with the quartic O

The typeface used by Hyundai was modern and clean - probably too modern when used in that particular word. A car model number has to be readable at a swift glance. When you're driving, your brain is reacting in fractions of a second. You may need to recall that car's model name and number plate for any reason - let's say you heard a police report on the radio that police were searching for a white Hyundai iLOAD which had been involved in a major crime. Oh, you think. Well, that's not the car in front. That car is an iLDAD. It's not just car names that have to be readable at a swift glance, either - it's anything you put on paper or the internet that is intended to attract customers. The exceptions may be heavy metal band names or products aimed at Generation Y or Generation Z. But for most of us, finding a font that matches our branding and is easy to read is paramount. That doesn't mean sticking with Times New Roman (ugh); there are literally thousands of fonts out there for the taking, ranging from the striking and simple to the elegant and filigree. Even fonts with swirling serifs can be eminently readable. There's no excuse for doing an iLDAD! (And by the way, Hyundai, what's with the lower case i? Channelling Apple as well?)

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