Typography as body language

Have you ever stood in front of an audience in your underwear? You feel the sweat dripping down your back. Your nerves are trembling. Your body language shows this isn’t going as planned. Why didn’t you wear pants? WAKE UP! Thankfully, this was just a terrible dream. When the real presentation comes, you’ll be fully dressed, standing tall, and speaking with confidence. Your body language and voice will show the audience that you’ve done your research and know your material. Just as we present in person, our presentation and knowledge of a subject is displayed with typographic choices.

The right font and type arrangement is a powerful tool in communication, just like our body language. We discussed this during a day of training with the U.S. teams recently. On the topic of emails, we talked about the struggle of over-using exclamation points, caps, italics, and how graphs are separated. Emily of our Boston office noted how this is very similar to body language. She hit the nail on the head. When someone is reading a message, the distinctions can be interpreted differently than you may have anticipated, just like if you’re folding your arms and facing away from a client during a presentation. Italics can suggest an unintentional meaning, or lose meaning when used in excess just as too many caps in a note can feel aggressive.

In a report or client deliverable, font choice plays the same role. For example, distorted serifs display an older era. A character of this style appears as though it were applied with physical tools, with the wobbly serifs showing a tactile application that you might see from a printing press or typewriter. Blackletter or old English fonts are fonts of this style. Would seeing this aesthetic of font make sense in a report about contemporary products? Probably not.

Recently, our Boston office has worked with a client looking to understand the range of personalities in junior high and high school students to help them consider viable options for their future. Our research revealed a broad collection of personalities. Each has unique goals and concerns; this was an impactful moment for fonts to reflect the unique personalities, and empower the project narrative. A stressed student displayed a loose, brush script that appeared hesitant and scattered, while a popular, confident profile displayed a slightly italicized quick lettering to express their carefree optimism. Along with color choice, and custom visuals, the fonts played an important role in communicating quickly and effectively to the client who their audience is. The research results are presented succinctly. Had we stuck to one font, it would be a lost opportunity for clear, engaging content that resonated with our client.  

At Kadence, we provide insightful content with fluid comprehension throughout our deliverables. Using typography to elevate and communicate is another way that Kadence takes pride in our creative output. Attention to these details is another skill for showing so.