The unofficial award show
Every year agencies spend money and hours on sending their work to national and international award shows. The crescendo is held at sponsored venues with plastic spoons and chicken served cold, watching hundreds of categories on big screens. Like the children’s fishing pond everyone gets at least a nomination.
The real award show is running outside the venue. There’s no commission to participate, no rules on how to enter, no limitations whatsoever. It´s the greatest show on earth.
With only two categories, ’sprint’ and ‘marathon’, this award show is about creating real brand value. The sprint winners set the trends, resulting in a head start of the competition. They will gain followers and media space for free. The marathon winner is the lifetime achievement award, which sums up several years of competing at the highest level.
Everyone knows who the winners are, and even the runners-up. We enjoy them in the streets, and refer to them in new pitches and projects. They stand the test of time for decades. After all, who remembers the Epica Silver winner in the FMCG plastic beverages 1998?
When competing in branding, there is no such thing as preparing for the annual world cup or olympics every 4th year. Brands compete every day.
Type on wheels
A custom-made typeface is almost an industrial standard for car brands. The understanding of good consistent typography within the car industry started back in the 60s with Bill Bernbach’s Volkswagen ads. Futura stayed in the same game until just recently. Volvo has been loyal to its own bespoke typeface Volvo Broad(seen above) since the early 90s. A more recent success is Audi Type, launched in 2009.
When you have a generic product, to stand out you must use all the tools in your visual toolbox. A custom-made typeface is a good start. Let the letter shapes alone convey the message. Nobody is likely to be reading your headlines anyway. If Audi wrote “Slow Asian budget” in their typeface, the complete image would still communicate “Dynamic German quality.” An image will always be stronger than words, and characteristic typography creates images rather than words.
Another reason why car brands enjoy their bespoke typefaces is their overload of sub-brands (vehicles). Especially when there is no naming strategy. The Toyota Display font ensures instant recognition of the brand when the sender is Yaris, Corolla, IQ, Aygo, Avensis or Verso. The same goes for Skoda and their typeface Skoda Pro, when connecting Fabia, Citigo, Octavia and Yeti to their master brand.
Heritage is something car brands want to push in their marketing, and the best way to incorporate this into the identity is also through the typeface. Toyota Display is Japanese and Opel Sans is European. Even my mother can recognize that. And that is a good thing. So learn from the car brands and put your typeface on wheels. Your brand will have a smooth ride.
Rendering something pure
CNA is a design consultancy. True to Scandinavian principles we purify brand expressions by shedding excess.Read more