Recently I can’t help but notice the amount of text presented in capital letters, in fact it’s hard to even type the words without hitting the CAPS lock. As a socially aware Graphic Designer I remember when the RNIB set out their Clear Print Guidelines for Blind People, and I was delighted to see that for once, legibility was given high priority: “Text set in italics or capitals is usually harder to read, as the word shapes and letters are all the same height or angle” yes this was what I’ve been quoting ever since, so what’s changed? Don’t we care anymore about the Disability Discrimination Act or do we hold the notion that design conquers all?
Of course there are iconic brand logos that have for years held their own places in our hearts and minds using capital letters. Our interpretations are complex. When VOGUE uses this style it says, sophistication, fashion and beauty. When LEGO uses it they are fun, childish and playful, yet when an emergency service uses it, for example the POLICE force, they are shouting, aggressive and authoritarian.
How we present our brands and ourselves is as important as ever but are the ways we use typography more flexible than ever? Perhaps our associations have also changed and we just see the logo we recognise and love. But what about when a new brand is created, should these points still be front of mind or is the typography door wide open?
Next time you are surfing the web or trawling through your recent journal, just take note of how much copy is written using capital letters, you might be surprised.