Daily Buzz: Let’s Talk Design

An interesting branding and design trend in the world of technology—the custom corporate typeface—is picking up. Is there something here for your next rebrand? Also: Microsoft Office gets a visual revamp.

As you may be aware, your organization’s visual look is often everything—a best foot forward and a defining personality trait.

But when you hit a certain size, managing that visual look can get expensive, which is why some companies, particularly in the technology space, have started to bring in their own custom typefaces as part of their look. Netflix, Apple, Airbnb, Intel, eBay, Salesforce, and Uber all have one. Google has a few, actually.

In a piece on his personal blog, software designer Arun Venkatesan discusses why this trend appears to be picking up, even at smaller companies. He says this focus on type highlights two things—the fact that typography licenses are expensive and, more importantly, how graphic design tends to imply a certain corporate personality. Venkatesan’s post focuses on the latter point.

“Though typography as we know it is centuries old, it has only increased in importance with time,” he explains in his post. “It’s integral to how we communicate with each other, even today, where printed media has given way to digital interfaces. In fact, you can argue that UI is mostly typography.”

That said, he notes that if you were to embrace custom type as part of a unique identity, it should be done for the right reason. In addition, it should convey a unique look—something he notes that many big brands struggle with. (Good luck differentiating Airbnb’s Cereal font from Netflix Sans.)

An Old Standby’s Visual Revamp

Seemingly everyone uses Microsoft Office, right? If you’re included as a part of that “seemingly everyone,” you’ll probably notice a big change coming to the software in short order—the icons.

For the first time in five years, the company is redesigning the visual look of the icons, putting the focus on the different colors of the application’s palette, the company noted in a blog post.

Microsoft characterizes the move as part of a years-long effort to refocus the software on design.

“In the end, it’s great design that makes these experiences fluid and seamless,” wrote Jon Friedman, who heads the Office design team. “As a signal to our customers, we’ve evolved our Office icons to reflect these significant product changes.”

Other Links of Note

Testing your user interface is important, but don’t fall into the trap of designing your product around the preferences of a single user, UX strategist Debbie Levitt argues on CMSWire.

Don’t let your member marketing be done in by bad habits. The Membership Marketing Blog highlights some you should get away from.

Looking for a new AMS? The YourMembership blog breaks down a few features that should make it onto your “must-haves” list.

(hanibaram/E+/Getty Images Plus)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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