31

There's a lot about color theory but not as much about type theory. For example silver, gold, black, deep purple are often associated with luxury and wealth.

What charactertics should a font have to also be associated with luxury and wealth? Again, characteristics not looking for a specific font.

Some might say Script but that seems too broad, as this for example is far from luxury:

enter image description here

While another script font might work:

enter image description here

It's not just script though, similar explorations can be done with Serif fonts and Decorative fonts.

What characteristics make a font appear luxurious and wealthy? Are there also certain type treatments that can further associate type with luxury?

Edit

I want to be clear in that this isn't about what luxury brands use for their logos, but what typography characteristics CREATE luxury. To use hkaube's answer as example if I use a font similar to MARC JACOBS:

Marc Jacobs

I don't think anyone would say WEDDING PHOTOS looks luxurious and wealthy despite being similar in style to how a luxury brand treats their logo.

  • 1
    Very interesting question; I think the answer will be in the interplay between type characteristics and the context around it (e.g. swimming in whitespace, subtle use of vivid and contrasting colours) plus associations of the text itself (e.g. the word 'Marc' is already half way there). Also keep in mind that building luxury brands is >90% (?) placement and association-building, and <10% actual design - there's nothing about Lacoste's cartoon crocodile that lends itself to being a luxury brand mark, for example... Who you're seen with, not what you are (sadly)... – user568458 May 18 '15 at 17:24
  • @Scott I don't think that's saying they are unimportant, but rather (my interpretation) is that typefaces don't have to say something. That's our job, as the designers. – DA01 May 18 '15 at 18:19
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    @DA01 agreed. My point was no "font' carries a message. It's how it's used that is the message. – Scott May 18 '15 at 18:21
  • @Scott I agree wholeheartedly! – DA01 May 18 '15 at 19:28
  • illegibility is associated with wealth and luxury. Or rather the non requirement for! Ultimately but usually vanity and pride overrule this – user46086 Jun 30 '15 at 18:30
23

While I agree with a lot of what has been said, I disagree with one of the fundamental ideas everyone else seems to have--there are certain characteristics and treatments that makes something feel luxury and wealthy. I'm not sure I know them all, in fact I'm sure I don't, but here's what I've been able to identify since posting this question and really thinking about it.

Luxury is often about the craftsmanship and quality of materials. This is a key point to identifying the characteristics. To elaborate, looking at the logos others have posted:

  1. Very, very well crafted typefaces. These are typefaces that are flawlessly balanced, kerned, spaced, everything.

  2. They are generally a solid color often black, sometimes gold, white, silver. There are no extraneous elements. No drop shadows, no outlines, no emboss. They stand on the merit of the type's craftsmanship, again like the underlying product.

  3. Only time rounded corners occur are when used in a signature based identity such as Agnes B. Voyage and Salvatore Ferragamo. This could be extended to say only time letters aren't necessarily crisp, balanced, and kerned are also in signatures and could include Christian Louboutin logo into the mix.

  4. There is rarely a marking associated, and when so it is frequently using the actual type as is the case in Fendi and Chanel (Chanel of course also tributing Coco Chanel). The only luxury brand I can think of that deviates from this is Versace. However, the type used is still in line with everything else. Watches and cars are more open to adding things however.

  5. Everything is on a perfect horizontal... baseline, crossbars, ascent line, cap line, etc..

The main takeaway is that luxury doesn't scream it. Its subtle, sophisticated, and well crafted. It lets the type speak for itself. To further illustrate this lets look at some toy companies:

Toy Brands

The type doesn't hold on its own. Spacing isn't as perfect, letters are more playful, angles and curves are used, colors not only around them but in the actual type, then there's shadows, strokes, gradients. As some pointed out the free space in luxury logos --- well its not just the free space but the lack of additional elements. Luxury isn't "minimal" but it is clean. These elements don't appear in luxury. Lots of rounded

Can think of it like food. A high quality restaurant uses the best ingredients and allows it to speak for itself. A typical lower end restuarant would be processed. The Toy companies are processed type, while the Luxury brands are the high end ingredients.

To user568458 joking in comments about Comic Sans being used in a luxury brand. We don't see it because of the playfulness in the characteristics. The curved ends, the tilted letters, the variations in horizontal lines. All of the reasons people hate Comic Sans MS are the same ones that don't lend it to being used as a typeface signifying wealth and luxury.

To scott mentioning Polo Ralph Lauren. Polo is the lowest end of their product line, their luxury brands are Purple Label (highest) and Black Label. Those logos are:

Purple by Ralph Lauren

Black by Ralph Lauren

Another update

I happened to be reading an article that had this as its final point:

WHITE SPACE

In art as in life, white space is the ultimate luxury. The most recent architectural addition to the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan is a superb example of the way acres of empty white walls can be used to make a superlative statement On the page, white space works the same way. It signifies that you have plenty of room to spare. It frames images with an aura of accessibility. The less crowded a magazine layout, the more elitist is its attitude.

"The luxury of less."

One of the first magazine art directors to realize that a blank surface could have as much impact as a printed one was Alexey Brodovitch. His Harper’s Bazaar layouts in the 1950s treated white paper as if it was an electromagnetic field, with blocks of type and photographs charged with positive and negative energy.

Because of its upscale connotation, white space was vilified in the 1970s as too elitist. Only in the late 1980s did a handful of art directors, Neville Brody and Fabien Baron among them, dare to reintroduce white space in magazines, chiefly on opening spreads, to show off their typographical wit.

Source: The Object Poster, the Visual Pun, and 3 Other Ideas That Changed Design, The Atlantic, 12 Apr 2012

I think this offers some valuable historic insight into the use of white space by luxury brands.

  • so what your saying is transformeri are closest luxury goods? Anyway you have a point they dont need extra stuff they are known. – joojaa May 18 '15 at 20:18
  • @joojaa I would say the closest would be Risk. – Ryan May 18 '15 at 20:21
  • I disagree.. Ralph Lauren uses the Polo Player often, Chanel uses the Cs, Cartier has a C thing similar to Chanel, Tiffany has a T&CO thing, Gucci has a GC symbol... they are out there. Just because I posted only the type versions, it doesn't mean those brands exclusively use the type versions. I'd give it to you on rounding though. High end generally doesn't have rounded typefaces. I wouldn't emphatically state they can't though. – Scott May 18 '15 at 21:08
  • @Scott Tiffany, Cartier and Chanel would all fall under what I said in point 4. As for Ralph Lauren, Polo is their low end product. Purple Label and Black Label are the luxury brands and neither one features a polo player. I edited my answer to include them at the end. – Ryan May 18 '15 at 21:37
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    I really love the bit you posted on white space in relation to luxury. Something I didn't first think of but as soon as you mentioned it (especially the magazine example) my brain was like "Oh yeah!". Luxury is simple, refined, spacious. And when that's carried to branding, it serves very well. – hkaube May 20 '15 at 15:33
10
+250

Now there's always going to be circumstances where any classification of font can suit a luxury brand. But some font characteristics that I've noticed are:

  • Serifs
  • High/med contrast fonts; Modern typefaces (see Hugo Boss)
  • Small caps
  • Heavy tracking (see Marc Jacobs)
  • Script fonts
  • Ligatures
  • Hand-drawn signature-esque writing (see Agnes B. Voyage)
  • Very bold or very light fixed-stroke fonts (see Chanel)

ref1 http://image.space.rakuten.co.jp/lg01/44/0000403744/72/img1e522d15zikfzj.gif

ref2

ref3

ref4

  • 2
    I'm not sure I agree with your answer and think the reason is because you're associating luxury brands, with luxury type. I don't think that association can be made. MARC JACOBS or CHANEL for example --- if you type "DOG BISCUITS" or "FREE SEMINAR" or any number of things in one of those fonts, its has no appearance of luxury. – Ryan May 18 '15 at 16:15
  • Edited my question to give an example in case this isn't clear. – Ryan May 18 '15 at 16:20
  • @Ryan Fair enough. I think what I really was trying to do here was identify trends in luxury brands. Re-reading your question, this isn't exactly what you're looking for—oops. I think if we're looking for what elements of a logotype on their own say luxury, regardless of what it's saying, then we'll have a much more finite list (serifs, scripts, modern type-faces, etc.) – hkaube May 18 '15 at 16:29
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    @Ryan Solely in the case of CHANEL using a monospaced font I think it really benefits of having characters that are all equal, or near-equal, width in any face. Some type-faces being used are benefited by the subset of characters in the logo. – agweber May 19 '15 at 16:17
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    CHANEL dose not use a monospaced font. It's well kerned so visually looks balanced, but note the widths are quite different (The A is significantly wider than the H, for instance). – DA01 May 20 '15 at 15:04
7

There is no common characteristics in the typefaces used. Any typeface can convey luxury and wealth, it all depends on how the type is used.

Luxury brands convey "luxury" through use and message not any specific typeface. If you examine the work of some of the world's leading "luxury" brands you find there's practically no common characteristic between the typefaces used.

Just look at what Forbes states are luxury brands....

enter image description here

And a couple I think they missed....

enter image description here

enter image description here

As you can see typefaces range from serif, to semi-serif, to sans serif. Including high contrast and low contrast stroke weights. There's no common thread to me.

If anything could be called common, it may be the lack of script typefaces. Although the Cartier italic may be borderline there, in the eyes of some.

What I find more important than any typeface is use of white space and color palettes in brand materials.

More whitespace is often a characteristic of higher end advertising or design. The more a page is crowded with content, the less "high-end" it appears. In addition, many high-end brands tend to restrict the overall color palette used in their advertising, often favoring a monochrome palette. This is just my observations though.

As Massimo Vignelli said:

"I don't think that type should be expressive at all. I can write the word 'dog' with any typeface and it doesn't have to look like a dog. But there are people that [think that] when they write 'dog' it should bark."

Typefaces in themselves don't need to be expressive. It is how the type is used which will convey the message.

  • 5
    " Any typeface can convey luxury and wealth, it all depends on how the type is used." Though Comic Sans does make it a little bit more difficult. – David Richerby May 18 '15 at 18:56
  • I agree with this and would add in the spacing that it includes very well designed, well kerned, type with consistent strokes. If I look at all of the typemarks you posted, they're all very well aligned and balanced. The only thing my eye notices is the leading B in Burberry appears to have a greater space in it, but think that was just a poorly done version because looking at their website its better spaced. – Ryan May 18 '15 at 18:56
  • Just quick Google searches for the logos Ryan :) It's not impossible I snagged a bad version of the Burberry logo. – Scott May 18 '15 at 18:57
4

The answers so far consider mostly fashion items such as clothing, perfume etc. When you start to include other categories of goods you will see that the differentiation is not so easy. In fact I doubt there is any.

If I was pressed to say any one feature i would say: Conservative. It is not that clear cut though. Mainly the conservative stance has fact that many of these manufacturers are well established and their logos may be somewhat old. But also their logos need to work on many mediums, luxury being more than just the product but also the wrappers and surroundings. Therefore a luxury brand logo may need to work on many surfaces in many materials. This makes using black and white simple logo ideas as base easier.

Here some logos with graphic elements in them:

Ferrari enter image description here

Images 1-2: The Ferrari logo in many ways differs form the Patek logo, just as the goods they sell.

Take the Ferrari logo which is more like a coat of arms. Colorful and has a symbol. One counter example of what has been claimed on this page to be the hallmark of luxury goods single colored, no symbol, lettering is modified with along stroke. The color range is playful, tough not shaded. The look and feel of the logo may in fact reflect the time when the brand was formed rather than any specific look and feel. Compare that to Rolls-Royce which has some similar aspect ration but totally different approach

Rols

Image 3: Rolls-Royce logo

So maybe the area where the brand is operating affects the look and feel more than them being luxury goods. So different companies have different take on the logo. But one thing is common luxury goods usually carter people in their 30' and up so they tend to be more mature in design, whatever that means.

Also note that brands are constructs of their time some luxury brands may have a quite youthful and playful feel:

apple

Image 4: A luxury logo might not need any text at all.

  • Is or was Apple ever a provider of luxurious items? I wouldn't ever say that the Rolls Royce of computers is a Mac... – István Zachar Aug 5 '16 at 9:34
  • @IstvánZachar Yes thats what they position to be in phones tablets and laptops. Not saying luxury means best – joojaa Aug 5 '16 at 9:45
2

What characteristics should a font have to also be associated with luxury and wealth?

It should have the characteristics of fonts that others use with luxury and wealth brands.

In other words, there's nothing particular about the type itself that makes is applicable to luxury and wealth, but rather how luxury and wealth brands have used type before is what creates the association.

Popular typeface types used for luxury brands include:

  • Didones (ala Bodoni). Serifs, and high contrast between thin and thick strokes:

enter image description here

  • Humanist Sans:

enter image description here

But, there's no hard-and-fast rule to this. What makes a font say 'luxury and wealth' is that it's used in association with a luxurious, expensive product or service.

  • 1
    I agree with you, and in your comment, but... your first sentence, "It should have the characteristics of fonts at others use..." --- what are those characteristics? – Ryan May 18 '15 at 17:51
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    hkaube's list of characteristics is pretty good :-) I wonder, if a crafty fixer could convince enough A-list celebrities to wear t-shirts with the word "MUG" written on in comic sans, and if comic-sans-emblazened "MUG" outlets appeared in the top exclusive locations selling t-shirts at outrageous prices, whether it could become a luxury brand? I suspect it could. – user568458 May 18 '15 at 18:05
  • @Ryan IMHO, the characteristics are those of either a Didone or Geometric Sans. :) – DA01 May 18 '15 at 18:17
-2

I think the second one is Edwardian Script ITC and in this case it's the one which associated with luxury and wealth but the first one Segoe Script Bold is even not associated with luxury and wealth. It's important how people know fonts and how they remember. Observation and research needed to find out what concept, expression a font is associated. Usually I search for the fonts which used in magazines from different branches. For example Bodoni is a very popular font which used in fashion magazines and it associated with luxury but not exactly wealth. Also Edwardian Script associated with royalty or romance in my opinion and you can see it in some magazines about weddings. Also it's good know about the history of the font you are interested with it. It will be helpful to learn who designed and when, for what purpose.

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