The Mysterious Power of Context

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

«A while ago, I was designing the identity for a large, fashion-oriented organization. It was time to decide which typeface we'd use for their name. Opinions were not hard to come by: this was the kind of place where people were not unused to exercising their visual connoisseurship. But a final decision was elusive.

We decided to recommend a straightforward sans serif font. Predictably, this recommendation was greeted by complaints: it was too generic, too mechanical, too unstylish, too unrefined. I had trouble responding until I added two more elements to the presentation. The first was a medium weight, completely bland, sans serif "C." "Does this look stylish to you?" I would ask. "Does it communicate anything about fashion or taste?" Naturally, the answer was no.

Then I would show the same letter as it usually appears as the first in a six-letter sequence: CHANEL. "Now what do you think?"

It worked every time. But how?»

Excellent article by Michael Bierut »

While you´re at it dip into this one by Paul Rand as well »


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