Typography for packaging: trends and tips

Top brands have typography that is as recognizable and iconic as their logo—such as Coca Cola’s red cursive, Disney’s whimsical cursive font and CNN’s red and white upper case block lettering.

Conventional wisdom says that a picture is worth a thousand word, but using the right design for your words makes your words worth gold. Read more on how eye-catching typography can enhance your brand.

Why does typography matter?

So what exactly is typography? According to the packaging design book Packaging Design: Successful Product Branding from Concept to Shelf, “Typography for packaging design communicates the marketing message on a three-dimensional medium.” Typography is often viewed from a distance and it is one of the first things a person notices when it sees your product on the shelf.

Typography allows you to communicate additional information about your brand. In order to keep a consumer’s attention, your typography should be clear, legible and bold.

The authoritative book on typography, Getting it Right with Type: The Dos and Don’ts of Typography says, “Typography is first and foremost about the communication of information.” Typography helps people to separate information, and allow brands to emphasize certain words, further cementing the importance of the emphasized words in consumers’ minds. For example, Puma’s typography for its eco-friendly shirt packaging says, “I’m half the bag I used to be” in big bold letters. This typography calls attention to the company’s new eco-friendly packaging that uses 50% less material. In turn, placing the emphasis on this initiative enhances the company’s image as an environmentally-friendly brand.

Trends in Typography

There are numerous typography trends, dependant on the product’s sector, size and target audience; however, globally the following typography packaging trends have emerged.

Using typography as a background for packaging to create a dynamic multi-textured background.

Minimalist or essentialist typography: Minimalist typography can create a clean and sharp aesthetic for your packaging. Often this trend features simple typography over a black, white or transparent background.

Framed typography: Another emerging trend is bold typography framed by an interesting graphic, such as a golden frame. This trend is particularly prominent with luxury brands.

Custom typography: Disney has its own whimsical font, and more and more brands are recognizing the power of having a custom font. For example, in 2014, Apple launched a new custom font called San Francisco and subsequently used it to promote its Apple watches. Google also launched new custom fonts recently.

Retro typography: Several brands are using old fashioned fonts similar to those found on the first food packages. Now modern food companies and novelty companies are borrowing from the past and using bold block typography or typewriter fonts.

Handwriting fonts: The pen and writing utensil company Sharpie has long embraced fonts that look hand written, and now other brands are following suit. Hand writing fonts are playful and whimsical making them a great fit for creative products.

The Bottom Line

Typography is an important branding tool for enhancing the aesthetic of your brand. This is particularly important in modern times as consumers pay more attention to design to drive their purchasing decisions, “The majority of consumers are paying attention to package format and design, and purchase drivers are either being directly related to or being communicated through packaging,” says Beth Bloom a senior food and drink packaging analyst at Mintel in Mintel’s 2017 global packaging report. So, as competition for consumer’s attention increases as a result of globalization use typography to communicate your brand’s vision and create a unique packaging design.