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A Typography Primer

Typography is essentially print styles. Artists and graphic designers and writers see styles everywhere but you may not realize the impact typography has on you and your business message or design intent. However, at Ratio7, we are trained to advise you on which typography style supports and amplifies the message you actually want to send.

Generally speaking, there are two broad categories of typography: serif and sans serif, serif being the little “feet” that letters rest on and sans meaning “without”. The most common of these two types are Times New Roman (serif)  and Arial (sans serif).

In the beginning of the Web days it was felt by most copywriters and web designers/developers that digital medium was best displayed in sans serif font. In fact, you could kind of identify an amateur if they were using a serif type on a website. Boy! Have those days changed!

Generally speaking, serif fonts like Times New Roman or Courier are considered more formal, weighty, serious and traditional. Sans serif, obviously, are considered more casual, cleaner, “cutting-edge” and youthful. However, as soon as you state that, there is an example of someone who has used the opposite-like Ratio7!

The newest trend, seen on sites like, is to pair the two: sans serif for headers and contant wtih serif for titles. Yet, if you pick up the magazine itself you would likely see more serif fonts because it is in print.

Before stepping out on a branding path, or if you are considering revisiting your site or graphic presence, be sure to discuss typography with your designer. If you want a bit more (actually a lot more) typography education, you might check out the documentary “Helvetica”.

5 Ways to Make Print Memorable

We are all consumers who are faced with marketing materials every day. From brochures to leaflets, stickers to business cards, we pick these things up and often discard them before they are ever read. If you are a business owner, this can be a challenge if you want your marketing message to be heard. At Ratio7, we know some ways to help your message stand out and GRAB ATTENTION!

If you are in need of new or upgraded print materials like brochures or business cards, you can get more attention by doing the following things

1. Make it an odd shape. A typical square leaflet or postcard doesn’t stand out at all. Most are pretty uniform and standard in shape or size. But consider what it is like to receive a round postcard or to see a triangular shaped flyer posted somewhere. It stands out immediately because it is so unexpected! A good designer can help you use your logo to do a cut out edge or a whole piece that is built around it.

2. Make it out of a unique material. Designers have access to a large variety of materials, not just paper. Today’s technology allows you to easily print on thin wood, metal, plastic, vellum and various other materials. You can order balloons, stickers and other items to shake things up a bit!

3. Have a tear-off or freebie added. Turn your business card into a magnet, have a free tear-off bookmark, insert a coaster with your business logo. All of these make your marketing message more memorable and allow it to be seen in several different places in a home or office.

4. Use strong, eye-catching colours. More traditional businesses tend to lean on colours like navy and beige which is often appropriate. But if you want to get attention for a younger company with a youthful message, make sure your designer is caught up on colours trends. Neon colours are easy to find in a pile of papers. Few people do really bright business cards. Have your designer draft samples in really bright colours to see what you think.

5. Use powerful, bold words. Don’t let your design firm’s copywriter get away with weak language! A good copywriter understands the importance of persuasive, powerful language that is easily understood. The single word WOW! in large print catches the eye quickly. Make sure your pieces are well-written.

Feel free to contact us for a quote on any of the items mentioned or for other graphic design services!

Personal Branding Meets Design

Branding isn’t just for large corporations like Nike and Starbucks though we are all familiar with their logos and culture. Branding is also for individuals, particularly those who work as speakers, consultants, coaches but can also be important for doctors, massage therapists and more. What is Personal Branding? Tom Peters wrote a brilliant article which coined the term back in 1997 and is still the official guru on the topic. However, the young Dan Schawbel has run with the concept! Every thing you do, every thing you say (especially online and in print) is part of your brand.

How does graphic design fit in with personal branding? You need a compelling set of graphics for your various marketing materials: Website/blog (including WordPress theme as appropriate), business cards, Twitter background, postcards, flyers, e-book covers, print book covers and more. All of this helps build and support your personal brand. Generally, but not always, personal brands don’t have a logo but a group of interesting and unique photographs is a must.

Unlike corporate brands, the brand called “YOU” is more able to express its individual attributes. Are you a casual t-shirts and jeans kind of consultant? Or do you speak to and consult with more traditional business like insurance or banking? Your branding philosophy should be more formal then.

Some individuals building strong personal brands are Gary Vaynerchuk, Oprah, and (love him or hate him) Donald Trump. Visually Vaynerchuk does a great job of creating a quasi-logo using his name. Trump uses his name on EVERYTHING. Even though you are not yet this famous there are things you can do to visually build your brand:

Use your signature (if it is a cool one) as your logo. Use it on business cards, as your blog/site header and more.

Take advantage of an odd name or see if there are any play on words you can use.

Make sure you have an email signature telling people what you do.

Get the best quality print and online materials you can afford. Michael Port recommends this in Booked Solid on building your client base (and his personal brand is pretty strong also). Your materials represent YOU and it is important to get the best you possibly can.

Ratio7 can work with you on developing the visuals for your personal brand. From custom WordPress and Twitter themes to good old fashioned business cards, we have a creative and “in the know” design team who can help you stand out!