You might have noticed that illustrated words and sketched letterforms have popped up in almost every brand logo, lettermark, and materials’ design in the last year. Just scroll through Instagram or Pinterest and you won’t see a clean font typeface in sight. How did hand-lettering become so popular, and is it a smart branding trend for your business?
The rise of hand-lettering, both as an art form and as a branding strategy, has a lot to do with the digital age. Those born after 1980 have been baptized and raised in the church of pixels. In other words, their experience with the tangible is limited; they’ve written on screens more than paper, with a keyboard more than utensils. Like the resurgence of vinyl and photographic film, the physical practice of handwriting is now a talent to possess, a rare commodity to advertise, a unique service to provide. Hand-lettering is part of the movement led by do-it-yourself, craft-culture, right beside craft coffee roasters and breweries, organic food, and shopping small business.
Hand-lettering not only represents a set of specific interests among a generation, but a curated code of values that dictates a certain lifestyle with a particular consumer behavior. For this reason, it’s no surprise that hand-lettering has been adopted by brands to connect with this audience. A hand-lettered logo, for example, expresses an investment in craft culture, an understanding of the millennial experience, and a respect for the human-made. While not all things handmade are intrinsically better quality, a company could, in theory, communicate this idea with a hand-lettered wordmark.
Consider whether your product or service embodies craft culture. Hand-lettered branding could be a good decision for your company if, for example, you use locally-sourced materials, operate with an environmentally-conscious ethic, or give something tangible back to the community. As with any branding strategy, you’ll want to consider your audience, your company’s purpose, and, of course, its products and services before jumping on the hand-lettered train.