I came across this startlingly creative and entertaining video on Typography via Vimeo.com a couple years ago. It speaks even more authoritatively to me today. In a world filled with so much uncertainty, how does one find an authoritative voice, and once found, how does one present it with visual authority? Is a cool typeface that important, or is a steadfast classic font which has stood the test of time the best choice for getting your message across to your audience?

This video is a great launching pad to come back to over and over again before starting any project. It reminds me that the many layers of choices I have at my fingertips in Photoshop and Illustrator really do matter. Tempo, typeface, color, texture… they all can enhance or detract from your intended message. All to often, we don’t even know what our message is, or it gets lost in translation from the initial spark of an idea to the final design comp.

This video skillfully uses a variety of layers of communication:

1. Typographic Style

notice the use of big bold letters and all caps versus smaller sizes with italics. DECLARATIVE is in all caps, because, like, you know it’s DECLARATIVE! Notice how the viewer reads the words – there’s a symbiotic relationship between the choice of typeface elements and the tonality and attitude of the spoken words.

2. Animation Tempo

The speed at which animated text appears and disappears communicates a lot. Which areas of the video contain pauses? Notice the area where the big bold text moves at light speed across the screen? Normally, the viewer may not be able to read those split-second words – even with the ultra-bold weight – but with the added layer of sound recording, the designer doesn’t need to spell it out and can pick up the pace quite a bit!

3. Classic Typefaces

Helvetica, a hand’s down favorite of mine, is the main typeface for this piece. A simple, legible, classic typeface, Helvetica is just one of those perfect fonts that packs a punch without a lot of bells and whistles. It allows your message to take the forefront, instead of pushing its fancy intricacies in your face. (I’ll write more about Helvetica another day.)

4. Knowing your audience

This project was, evidently, a design school project. Geared toward a 20-something crowd, the poem is written in their language; it is humorous and captures the attention of a generation plagued with iPhone-induced ADD.

5. Teach something

Authoritative typography leaves something to the viewer ~ a message. If you leave your viewer feeling as though you’ve bored them or wasted their time, you’ve done zero to brighten and enlighten them. With a creative mind focused on the goal to TEACH the viewer something, you’ll be miles ahead of the pack of marketers, communicators designers who are simply interested in making it look pretty or the coolest cutting edge technology. Substance, and by substance I mean valuable content, married with design choices that give an authentic life to that content is… like, you know… everything!

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