Graphic design as a promotional tool dates back to the 19th century, when the earliest form of graphic design relied solely on typography to make a point. During these early days, text, font style, and font size were the main vehicles of emphasis; you can see how designers started playing with different typefaces and boldness to draw attention to certain information. Over the years, as graphic design became more prominent, methods and styles evolved. People in the advertising industry began to experiment with different techniques to attract attention to products, as well as instill confidence in them and the companies that sold them.
An interesting method of imbibing familiarity – and thus confidence – in a product or advertisement was the use of vernacular. During this time, the transition from hand-made goods to industrialized society’s machine-made, mass-produced items was alarming to people. Trust had to be won in order for these products to be viable to consumers. Thus, we start to see homage being made to products of bygone eras. An example is a mass-produced chair. An early style of chair produced by the Crocker Chair Co. closely resembles chairs made by local wood-workers.
By appealing to consumers’ comfort with familiar objects, this company was able to sell more chairs and made headway in the market. Examples of nostalgia in graphic design still permeate today’s brands. Vintage fonts and sketches are used in logos and slogans on a regular basis to establish an old-world, “good old days” feel for brands’ fundamental messaging. A couple good examples of this in our own community are the logo for The Pearl on First Apartments and Green Bench Brewing Co.
The Pearl on First’s logo uses the Broadway font to bring us back to the classy, elaborate Art Deco era that exudes luxury and high style. The apartments themselves are designed with an Art Deco flair – the materials and colors are classic and sophisticated.
The Green Bench logo uses fonts in both their logo and their wall mural that are reminiscent of old postcards. This nostalgic reference brings to mind family vacations and good times – perfect for Green Bench’s family atmosphere, games, and outdoor space that encourages family time with dogs and kids.
Even in our own logo – the “circle P” – there is a reference to old typewriters, with the circle itself representing the circular keys from early typewriters. Our brand promises intelligent, effective communications for professional services companies; in this era of fun, cool, and edgy marketing, Pinstripe stands out as something a little more polished, yet still highly creative. The typewriter font is austere enough to resound with professionals, but the vintage edge of the font indicates a sophisticated creativity that is still hip and artistic.
Pinstripe Marketing “circle P” logo.
We see examples of historical reference and vernacular design every day – can you think of any local businesses that use this technique for their brand? Check out these actual vintage logos for design ideas: http://www.vandelaydesign.com/vintage-logos/