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The Fundamentals of Typography

An interview with
Michael Stinson


Typography is a core component of logo design, but so many designers lack the essential knowledge needed to use fonts correctly. To solve that, this week Ian interviews Michael Stinson to talk about the fundamentals of type, choosing and managing fonts, licensing, laying out content, book recommendations and more.

Michael is the typography instructor at Laguna College of Art + Design, and is also the founder and lead Instructor at TypeEd, an educational platform that teach designers about the fundamental theory of type.

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Michael Stinson Interview Transcription

Ian Paget: To start off the discussion, can you talk through the importance of good typography when working on logo design and brand identity?

Michael Stinson: Okay. So, yeah, for typography for branding identity, let’s say, I was taught that there was about five different kinds of logos. There’s categories, right? And one of them is logotypes, or wordmarks. Those are the kind of logos like FedEx, that have no symbol. They’re just a word, right? Or Coca-Cola. Or Johnson & Johnson, right? So, all the personality of the company has to come through the type itself. So, if FedEx were a serif, instead of a sans-serif, what kind of company would it be? So, the choice of typefaces and how the characters are arranged, and the length of the word, and the number of syllables, all kind of play into the wordmark. How we say the name, and how it looks to us. If FedEx was not purple and orange, that’d be a huge effect on it. If it was Starbucks green instead, we’d be confused, right? So, the typeface itself has a lot to say about it, in terms of all the personality, like I said, in the company has to be the attitude in that typeface. It has to come through it.