What typography trends are predicted for 2018 and how can you use them?
By Sarah Hyndman
Keeping up with trends in typography can give you inspiration that keeps your design ideas fresh, or can enable you to differentiate yourself from (or align yourself with) your competitors. It also keeps you up to date with the exciting innovations happening in technology that could transform the future of visual communication.
Based on the predictions of trend forecasters, experts and our observations, these are the top trends that we predict will influence typography in 2018 and beyond. We will take a look at each trend, the sector it is likely to appear in, and explain how you could use it.
Trend 1. Vernacular
HOW TO USE THIS TREND: Select typefaces that have visual references pulled from a particular era or genre to add layers of meanings to your words, to trigger nostalgia, or to provoke a debate. You could include obscure references to be recognised only by people in the know.
Typography featuring vernacular references pulled from a particular era or genre. These are intended to add layers of meaning or embed ideas from popular culture into the typeface design, sometimes adding clues or reference points to be recognised by those in the know. These styles are often intended to be ephemeral and conceived with the thinking of an instant-impact advertising campaign, rather than a brand identity built for longevity. Type designer Bruno Maag explained at a recent Type Thursday meet up that this reflects the trend he sees towards ad agency-led rebrands, which produce results designed for impact but not long-term functionality, and he suggests that advertising agencies are increasingly taking over the traditional role of the branding agency.
Example: Formula 1 rebrand by Wieden+Kennedy
Use type styles with nostalgic references in the details to appeal to a new audience.
The widely discussed rebrand of Formula 1 by Wieden+Kennedy ‘shares an aesthetic with the sci-fi racing world that the studio designed for the classic mid-90s video game, ‘WipEout’ according to design team lead Richard Turley.
The rebrand includes a suite of three typefaces designed by Marc Rouault, which includes the regular (above) and two display faces. Within the letterforms are the retro futuristic shapes reminiscent of vintage vector video games, Etch-A-Sketch graphics and the low-resolution typography seen on cathode ray tube screens in early video arcades.
These visual references to video game nostalgia suggests that the rebrand is intended to attract a new audience to Formula 1, although Maag suggests that the use of the typefaces will fit the short lifespan of an advertising campaign and quickly be replaced by more neutral faces.
Prediction: More nostalgic technology references
The first font created for the Apple Mac system interface was Chicago by Susan Kare in 1984. It was originally a bitmapped face suitable for early low resolution screens then later developed as a smooth, vector-based version. In 1997 it was replaced by Charcoal (below). As these styles become a part of fondly-remembered history they are likely to be absorbed into future type styles as we look to the past to reinvent the future, a process described as ‘newstalgia’ by trend forcasting agency WGSN.
Example: Stranger Things, Lethal Weapon and Twin Peaks
Use typefaces from a particular era to add historic authenticity and richness to your graphic design.
What do the Netflix series Stranger Things, the reboot of 80s TV show Lethal Weapon and the return of Twin Peaks after quarter of a century have in common? They have also rekindled an appreciation for the typography of the 1980s with its flared serifs and nod to Art Nouveau. The Stranger Things logo created by Matt and Ross Duffer uses Benguiat, a decorative typeface designed by Ed Benguiat with flared serifs and a nod to the 1890s in the crossbars of the ‘A’ and the ‘H’—this embodies the aesthetic of the 80s. Benquiat appears on Stephen King covers that, just like the creepy sound track, gives a hint of what’s to come. The Stranger Things audience has learned to look for pop culture references throughout the series that add richness and depth to its fictional world.
The Lethal Weapon typeface from the original and the remake is Serpentine oblique, designed by Dick Jensen in 1972. Similar to Benguiat it is a typeface of its era, which also features slightly flared letterforms.
Twin Peaks originally aired in 1990 and it returned in 2017, along with its iconic sign painted by Steven LaRose. Whilst this is hand painted lettering, typefaces such as Letraset’s Bramley by Alan Meeks (below) have a similar nostalgic feel with angled and bracketed slab serifs, and a slight Art Nouveau feel to letters like the ‘N’.
Read the ‘Serifs’ trend to be posted later in the week to see the influence 1980s typefaces are having on graphic design today.
Example: Taylor Swift
Use display type with recogniseable pop culture references to lay down a challenge or provoke a debate.
Taylor Swift’s design team employ vernacular references intended to provoke a reaction. The blackletter typeface for Reputation prompted wide discussion on social media that she was reprising her well-known feud with Kanye West, because he uses a form of blackletter influenced by the early days of hip hop. However it also links to the type styles in newspaper mastheads, suggesting a link between her reputation and media coverage. The result was plenty of press coverage.
Her ‘Look what you made me do’ single from the album features hand lettering that clearly references Saul Bass’ title design for Hitchcock’s Vertigo. The film is a psychological thriller about obsession and manipulation, featuring a woman masquerading as somebody else before revealing her true identity. This sets a provocative tone for Swift’s record and mirrors the theme in the song.
Post 2 will look at the ongoing ubiquity of neutral typefaces.
FIND OUT MORE
Would you like to learn more about typography? Get in touch with Sarah here to book a Type Tasting workshop or event that teaches you about type trends through history and the psychology of typography with lashings of interaction, games and activities.