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Typography: more than just decorative fonts

In the Red Dot 21 category “Typography”, you will find examples of work that are characterised by an outstanding use of typefaces, symbols and pictograms. Kurt Weidemann, one of the great German typographers, was, until his death in 2011, a regular member of the Red Dot Award: Communication Design jury. In his book, titled “Wo der Buchstabe das Wort führt” (Where the letter rules), he defined typography as follows: “Typography is the choosing, structuring and organising of writing and making it readable in a logical way.” In this competition category, different fonts, company logos and pictograms are evaluated, not only in isolation, but also as part of complete works of print such as books, catalogues and brochures, magazines, packaging design and posters, and when used in digital media. The ability to write is an important cultural technique with which words can be recorded and passed on. Once we have learnt to read, we are barely conscious of the individual letters and their shape and hardly think about them at all. Our attention is on the text and its content – and there is nothing wrong with that. Or, as Kurt Weidemann said more pointedly in his above-mentioned book, “Typography is like the air we breathe. As long as it is good, you don’t notice it. You only realise it is bad when it irritates you!” It is the designer’s job either to choose the optimal fonts or even to create them in order to give expression to a message. The trick is to find and use the typeface that suits the content of the respective text. In this way, fonts may be used to subconsciously appeal to the reader’s emotions, or on the other hand to convey objectivity and distance the reader from the text. Typography also includes the design of the page, not only through the use of different typefaces, sizes and colours, but also through the use of white spaces – in the letters themselves, between the lines and blocks of text.

Typography in corporate, brand and interface design

Expressive typefaces that have been adapted or developed as part of the corporate identity design or brand design identity for specific companies or institutions can furthermore communicate certain values and traits such as elegance, modesty, a down-to-earth attitude, luxury, simplicity, youth, strength, fun, lightness, tradition, a technological focus and much more. The design quality of symbols, icons and pictograms is of particular importance in the realm of interface design when the focus is on user-friendliness or perhaps helping people to find their way around a room or space. The more intuitive and understandable the symbols and pictograms are, the more positive the user experience. You will find impressive examples of all these different uses of typography here in this Red Dot 21 category.