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I'm trying to guage the purpose of using fonts that have random capitals where there should be lowercase letters.

The question came about simply because I was looking at a design like the one I'm describing, and started to wonder what they're trying to express with such a seemingly random design feature.

Is it fun? Maybe childish?

Could there be any other reason for choosing a font like this?

I am aware that there is no correct answer to this, but maybe someone can offer a little insight.

Here's the design that sparked this question, specifically the word 'CrunCHY':

enter image description here

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It kind of depends on whether the capitals and lowercases have a different height--that tends to enhance the effect. –  Bakabaka Jul 11 at 10:05
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Oh, and that "crunchy" might actually be "cruncHy" –  Random O'Reilly Jul 11 at 13:30
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Yeah, I spent a while trying to decide which ones were uppercase and then just went with it. :) –  Mr E. Upvoter Jul 11 at 13:32
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4 Answers 4

You may find this answer slightly off-topic, but let's look at what the case mixing means in that particular example rather than in general. To get some context, it's helpful to look at the other varieties of peanut butter offered by this brand.

Sun-pat Crunchy Sun-pat Smooth Sun-pat Choc-a-nut Sun-pat Cashew Sun-pat Hazelnut

In this context, I think it's clear that each design is trying to convey something about the product's taste or texture through the typography. For example, the smooth type has a flowing hand-written style, to convey how smooth the product is. The choc-a-nut font choice conveys a similar texture, but perhaps with more focus on softness instead of smoothness.

In the crunchy variety, the goal seems to be to squeeze everything between the baseline and the median line. Even the y, which you would expect to either ascend above the median line, if it was upper-case, or descend below the baseline, if it was lower-case. This, I think, is to convey that the product is compact, while the individual letters may allude to the individual peanut chunks in the product, unique to the crunchy variety. The design choice for each letter, and the y in particular, is carefully made so that each letter is as compact and "chunky" as it can be.

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Compact --> Squashed --> Brimming full of crunchy peanuts. Good analysis, +1. –  Mr E. Upvoter Jul 11 at 14:52
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+1 for "To get some context". Design decisions are all about context. –  DA01 Jul 11 at 16:54
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Can I just point out that the use of a combination of both have a long history? They are half-uncials)

They were rather common in days of yore. You can see them for example in these kind of fonts: enter image description here

I know of places where people write capital R in a regular handwriting, otherwise consisting of lowercase. This I found in Ireland particularly, and maybe that has something to do with a long history of Irish half-uncials? (maybe @Jenna can shed some light on this?)

When used in the olden days, I assume it was saving line-heights (vellum and paper wildly expensive).

Imagine that the development of letters went from uppercase to lowercase-ish script (faster writing) cursive. There is also the consideration that larger variation in lettershapes in tiny text might make it easier to read. Lowercase n m u, d a etc. can be very similar.

To differ lower and uppercase was not really important.

Today it might be seen as "childish" and "playful" and might be used for brand-buidling as there is a subtle difference in using a lowercase in an uppercase text. It is a simple subtle difference.

Personally, I think we should play more with this. The "rules" of upper- and lowercase deserves to be shaken a little.


Edit: And here is an interesting evolution of this: enter image description here

(from this Wikipedia article)

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Some good background info, +1. Can you think of any other purpose for using mixed case lettering besides expressing a playful vibe, however far-fetched? –  Mr E. Upvoter Jul 11 at 13:20
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Today, apart from the some sort of brand building, sadly not. Unless you go for the "irish" manuscript look. Or, if you incorporate it into handwriting, which would give it character (I like it). I do not know of any digital fonts that have them, that might be its bane. –  Random O'Reilly Jul 11 at 13:29
    
Even though it's not a common use, I think producing an old Irish manuscript look does qualify as a different purpose. –  Mr E. Upvoter Jul 11 at 13:34
    
Any idea how old that manuscript (or just the font) is? Remember that lowercase letters weren't introduced until relatively recently (Middle Ages?). I see only capitals in there, possibly with a lowercase "eth" being used, which may have been a limitation on the printer's part. –  Phil Perry Jul 11 at 16:32
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I think historically that's useful, but note that 'half uncial' would only refer to actual Uncial faces. Unicase faces today aren't relegated to only Uncials. –  DA01 Jul 11 at 16:54
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It's called a Unicase typeface

As for the purpose of using them? There is no answer to this. Or rather, the answers are infinite. People use them for the particular project when it meets the needs of the particular project. While typefaces certainly have personalities, a big part of the personality comes from the context of their use.

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Great to know what it's called, now I don't have to keep saying "fonts that mix upper and lower case letters". –  Mr E. Upvoter Jul 11 at 19:48
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At first this is a very interesting question, but I don't know of an accurate reason why they choose that type of mixed case typography they used.

In my opinion, when both lower & upper case letters in a font have the same x-height:

  • it can make a chore out of reading
  • it can offer a creative look
  • it can create a playful look
  • it’s different enough that it’s also unique and instantly recognizable

Sumer, LLC’s package logos below

enter image description here

Reference:- http://ndrichardson.com/blog/2012/03/13/to-cap-or-not-to-cap/

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If it serves to differentiate a product and be memorable, then it has served its purpose. –  Phil Perry Jul 11 at 16:33
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