Monthly Archives: October 2014

Nothing Funny about Comic Sans

Continuing with our theme of words having some serious power, let’s take a look at one of the most hated fonts among designers: Comic Sans. We found this great website the other day and, although brief, it does a good job of explaining the hate. Comic Sans was built for a specific use (the words in conversation bubbles in comics) and has sadly morphed to wider usage—much to the chagrin of the design world.

As we’ve often said, good design is intentional and deliberate. Nothing is simply put somewhere “just ‘cause.” Randomness is exactly not designed…unless, of course, it is; but I digress. Comic Sans has been used (inappropriately) for so many things it shouldn’t be used for. If one uses CS for anything other than a kid’s party invitation or kindergarten chore list, they’re making a mistake. If, as the site points out, it’s used for something important, it’s like telling someone their mom died with emojis.

Oh yeah! I feel the power of self-righteous indignation coursing through my body and I’m just about to really get sassy when I read this line “Comic Sans is known for being easy to read for Dyslexics.” Oh hell. That is a buzzkill. I wanted to rant and feel awesome but, now…it just doesn’t feel right. That said, how interesting is it that this font, by dint of its design(!!), is easier to read for dyslexic people. My disappointment at not being able to feel superior is only slightly mitigated by this cool news that proves the power of design.

I’m not saying that CS was designed for those suffering from dyslexia, but the fact that it works for them is actually a really cool—though unintended—consequence. As any parent can attest, it’s not always what you say but how you say it (my 7-year-old can make “Just a second” sound like “I like mama way more than you, idiot”) The same is true of typed text. It’s not just what you write but how you write it. Look at your email and see if there’s a font that better matches your personality. Maybe you’d like Garamond or Trebuchet MS or even Courier New. Anything you like…except, of course, Comic Sans.

How many pictures is a word worth?

We have done, and still do, a ton of graphic design work. That is our heart and always will be. In the past decade, we’ve included more of what our clients have asked us for—that is, broader branding and marketing.

It’s not been a huge leap. Each of us New Grounders come from a level of marketing savvy and having a design eye makes any visual marketing really jump out. We talk about things we like, things we don’t, and why on a daily basis. This keeps us connected and sharp without losing what each of us brings to the table (yes, there’s literally a table in the middle of the office).

Taking all of that work into account, we have found ourselves moving still deeper into branding and marketing in the last few years in the form of doing more writing for clients (case studies, donor case statements, mission & vision work, strategy pieces, profiles, etc). This work flexes the same creative muscles and creates the same logical/emotional connections as when working visually, but the experience is a bit different.

More and more, we’re hearing about “storytelling” as a way to communicate your organization’s mission and we couldn’t agree more. We’ve always been storytellers—our visual work is never just to grab attention, but to build engagement and spark understanding. With the buzz around storytelling hitting fever pitch, especially in the nonprofit world, we feel amazingly well positioned to bring greater value to our clients by not limiting our storytelling to the words but also to the visual brands we develop.

This is a good thing for you to keep in mind when creating a piece for your organization. From a young age we are taught what’s right and wrong, who we are in the world, and why things are how they are through stories. It’s a way that we can grasp information in an engaging—and engaged—way. Why wouldn’t it work in the adult world?

Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words, and sometimes vice versa.