Fonts of Wisdom

Timeless design endures for a reason.
Counterintuitive color usage (such as a yellow sky) and type outlined in a tint lighter than its fill hue can create a bit of unexpected excitement. Making the most important text larger than the rest is a simple device often used to imply the information hierarchy. Using color to denote secondary information is a more subtle, but equally effective, technique.

I’ve always thought that product labels had more in common with signs than any other sub-genre of commercial design. Perusing grocery store aisles is akin to looking at a vast row of miniature billboards. Quick readability, prominent logo placement, eye-catching functionality and, of course, a sophisticated blend of newness and familiarity are all necessary elements of successful package labels (and successful signs). 

But what factors make the readability clear and quick? (hint: contrast) How can you make a logo prominent without merely making it huge? (spoiler: location) What design decisions can ensure your graphics are fresh and familiar at the same time? (tip: know your history

To expand on these questions, I’ve collected a few vintage produce labels that demonstrate some techniques a sign designer can employ to achieve these goals.


Signs of the Times March 2019

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