Findings From the Monotype & Neurons Typography Report

Posted inType Tuesday

Regarding a brand, cultural considerations such as color, translation and meaning, and visual cues take center stage. Type is always a pivotal part of any visual identity, but do we always consider cultural differences when finding the right font and aligning it to the strategy and design system? Culture, gender, and geography can affect how brands are perceived. Does type also matter in these changing contexts? We’d all likely answer a resounding yes. But why and how are more complex.

Monotype and Neurons, an applied neuroscience company, are collaborating to answer why and how and many more questions about the cultural differences in perceiving meaning and emotion in type. Monotype has released the first results of their ongoing study, revealing the emotional impact and cultural nuances of fonts across eight different countries: Australia, France, Germany, Japan, Portugal, Spain, the UK, and the US (with plans for more).

Here are three interesting findings.

English-speaking countries are not a monolith.

In the US, UK, and Australia, different typefaces resonated for the value of trust. One value these three countries share is distinction, so it pays to be repetitive, memorable, and build an easily recognizeable identity.

Neither is Europe.

France, Portugal, and Spain preferred classic serif styles. All three countries scored highly for associations such as surprising, so they might be the perfect market to try something more avant-garde or shocking.

Unlike many of its Romance language-speaking neighbors, the research found that Germans favored bold visuals and tended to value prominence and memorability. Germany scored lower on all other emotional attributes, such as trust, honesty, and quality.

The one thing they share? A love for Cotford, above.

In Japan, handwritten attributes and traditional forms win the day.

This is Monotype’s first foray into Japanese, Chinese, and Korean type research, but with its acquisition of Fontworks last year, it stands to reason that we will see a lot more in the future. In this initial data finding, the experts selected fonts to test the matching stimuli of the Western regions, and all the results defied expectations. The Japanese audience scored gothic, low-contrast, humanistic fonts highly for innovation. With its expressive brushwork and embellished serifs, Shuei Min scored highly for trust, honesty, and authenticity.

Tazugane Gothic, Monotype’s first Japanese font
Tazugane Gothic used in a campaign for Shoei Opticson Bluetooth-connected motorcycle helmet
Shuei Min

“Everyone brings their own history and personal perceptions to a typeface,” says Phil Garnham, Executive Creative Director at Monotype. “But what’s fascinating about our research is that it reveals those perceptions are, at least in part, influenced by where we live and the history of our culture and language. Our research is not exhaustive (to date, we’ve studied eight countries around the world) and as we continue to expand and diversify our research program with Neurons, we expect to uncover more insights on the complex, nuanced, and infinitely fascinating interplay between type and emotion.”

Read about the initial findings, samples, and survey methods in the e-book, available at Monotype – Typography Matters.

Banner image elements and e-book snapshots courtesy of Monotype.