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Beauty Typography: A Window Into Brand Personality

By: Aniko Hill
Posted: April 27, 2012, from the May 2012 issue of GCI Magazine.

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There are thousands of different typefaces, and the vast amount of fonts available makes the specific classification characteristics of the past virtually impossible. However, it is important to have a general understanding of the basic categories of typefaces to make an educated decision about what to use to represent a beauty brand. 

Serif

Serifed typefaces are comprised of letterforms with thick and thin weights and details often referred to as “feet” on many of the letters. In typographic history, they were popular much earlier than sans serif typefaces and are, therefore, often used now to communicate a sense of heritage. Serif typography is widely attributed to the stone-carved letterforms as seen in the Trajan Column (circa A.D. 113) in Rome. The serif element is said to have come from applying a brush to the stone before it was carved, which created the thick and thin effect and the feet on the ends of the letters. There are many subclassifications of serifs that can each communicate a slightly different feeling, but in general, serifs are perceived as a traditional typographic choice.

Serif fonts can be used in primary and secondary copy and are arguably the most versatile due to their legibility. For this reason, they are commonly seen as the body copy font in almost all publications.

In beauty packaging, there are endless examples of typography utilizing serifed letterforms. Perricone MD uses serif letterforms both in its brand mark, in the product name, and in descriptions supported by traditional packaging components and labels for an apothecary or medical reference. Other brands also employ serif-driven typography to convey sophistication along with tradition. For example, Lancôme and Dior both utilize serifed logos and supporting typography for a straightforward, yet premium effect, and L’Occitane takes the heritage approach even further with traditional stamps, seals and materials that support the serifed typography with a nod to Old World France.

Serif typography can also reference a specific idea when used in context. For example, Philosophy’s packaging puts a conceptual twist on classic publication typography with its intentionally dense copy that mimics the style of a dictionary.

Sans Serif