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The good, the great and the ugly in typography

By Edited Sep 4, 2015 1 0

I don’t believe in blindly imitating or copying anything somebody else made. But I do support getting inspired by others and modelling great stuff of others. I get that inspiration everyday, looking at pages on the internet, browsing through magazines, even when cycling through my hometown watching the vehicle lettering and signs on the buildings.
Sometimes with immediate admiration, sometimes with acute rejection. Yikes!

Memory

This week I cycled by a new real estate broker. Their name is Wij, meaning ‘we’, and yes, it is with that ligature I talked about the other day. The only place where the letter ij exists is over here, in Holland.

I hated the logo the minute I saw it. But why? I couldn’t get an immediate grip on that negative feeling. Therefore I had to analyse that logo and dig into my memory for other images and letter forms.

Examples of vignettes
Credit: HM

Here you see three different examples of vignettes. The first is of the Arts Academy Sint Joost, where I studied. The sign is probably dated ​​in the seventies, when abbreviations and exaggerated styling were hot. The second one is Hi, a brand of the national telephone company. And the third is the new one of Wij.

Sint Joost:
Of course you can question the readability. The j might as well be an i. Or you can even see it as the letter u. And abbreviations are rubbish, they cause too much confusion.
But as a graphical character the vignette is strong and balanced.

Negative space in letters
Credit: HM

Hi:
I am a big fan of the design of Hi. It is a really strong graphical drawing. It is not an abbreviation, which is an enormous big advantage. Very recognizable and on top of that, it’s friendly: “hi!”.
If the company is smart, they will keep both name and emblem for a long time, because it will not look outdated for quite a while.

Wij:
And then have a look at that awful Wij. The typographical term ‘negative space’ has a significant meaning. Compare the negative space in the three vignettes. The trick is to balance it rightly. As you can see that is done totally wrong in Wij.
The oblique white cross that is created, gives an association they surely didn’t want.
The j is wider than the i for no reason at all. I don't understand why the designer made these choices.

A white cross
Credit: HM

Emotion versus ratio

I had an initial feeling about Wij. That feeling came from experience, but telling people “I can feel that it is wrong” is not an argument.
I want to tell why something is right or wrong based on a rational explanation. And in the process I sharpen my knowledge and my brain by looking up all the information!

Do you follow my way of thinking and can you relate to that? Or do you think it's nonsense? Either way, I would like to hear it.

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