Picking the right typography


How do you choose the typography that is used for your marketing and sales materials? Do you choose the font style that you like the best personally? Do you look for one that goes with the rest of your graphic imaging for the brand? Do you just leave it up to your graphic designer? Believe it or not, the typography you choose can make a big difference.

Slanted text vs. upright

A February 2020 study published by the Journal of Retailing shows that picking the right typography can make a significant difference in the results of limited time sales promotions.

In the study, participants were shown two print ads that were identical except for the font. Both promoted a limited-time offer for a $10 promotional credit for every $50 gift card purchase. One one ad, the font was Times New Roman and on the other it was italic Times New Roman. Participants who viewed the italicized ad thought that the promotion had a much sooner expiration date than those who saw the same ad with a regular vertical font.

Another similar experiment had two ads for a Mexican restaurant limited time promotion, with one of the ads using an italicized font. When asked when they planned to visit the restaurant, most of those who saw the ad with the italicized font said they intended to visit the restaurant sooner than the group who saw the ad with the regular font.

A third experiment used email for a limited time offer of $4 for a $5 value gift card, with a link to claim the offer. Some of the recipients got the email with a regular font and others got it with a slanted font. The vast majority of the people who responded to the ad were in the group who got the italicized message.

So the bottom line is that using italics can:

  • Increase the sense of urgency in regard to a promotion
  • Speed up intent to purchase
  • Increase response rate

From a neuromarketing perspective, the rightward slant of italicized text signals the need to act quickly when paired with a limited-time promotion. This could be because it activates FOMO (fear of missing out) or because it visually suggests movement and speed and activates viewers’ mirror neurons.

Upper case vs. lower case

In regard to typography, lowercase text is more legible, more inviting and easier and quicker to read and understand. Uppercase text is commonly used in announcements and headlines. Text in all caps is considered to be the equivalent of shouting or yelling in online contexts. Because of these subconscious feelings, people associate lowercase brands with friendliness, while uppercase brands communicate authority. Unsurprisingly, people subconsciously associate lowercase brands with femininity and upper case brands with masculinity.

Another experiment involving typography effectiveness looks at the role of letter case on purchase intention. The study identified gender of consumption benefits as an important factor. This refers not to the gender of the buyer, but rather to the use or benefits of the product. Feminine consumption benefits were those that were associated with feminine goals such as looking slim as compared to masculine goals like building muscle. Feminine benefits also included things directly related to the feminine gender such as breast health or getting pregnant.

The study found that men were more likely to buy products with masculine consumption benefits when the brand name used a combination of upper and lowercase letters or all uppercase letters, while women were more likely to buy products with feminine consumption benefits if the brand name was presented in all lowercase text.

Other important aspects of typography are readability and psychological associations. For example, Times New Roman and other serif fonts convey a sense of tradition and reliability, while rounder, nonserif fonts like Helvetica look clean and unfussy. Script fonts like Edward Script communicate formality and creativity, while modern fonts like Century Gothic portray your company as forward thinkers with flare.

Find out more about the importance of typography here.

Knowing your audience and how their minds process visual information will help you to be a more effective marketer. Contact Pro Creative to help you create uniquely effective marketing for your company.

Top 4 Post-COVID Retail Pivots

Strategic pivots
Strategic pivots can make the difference between success and failure

As we are in the middle of the second wave of COVID (or maybe a resurgent first wave), it has become clear that life will not return to “normal” any time soon. For small businesses like retail stores, it is especially important to be able to implement strategic pivots. If you keep running your business as you always have, you are likely to run into trouble.

1. Safety First

Of course, your customers (and employees) will be concerned with safety so you need to change up the way you accommodate safety concerns. See 10 Ways to Make Customers Feel Comfortable Returning to Your Business Post-COVID.

2. Take It Up a Notch

When heading out of the house to visit your business carries a risk, you need to make it more compelling for customers to do so by implementing experience pivots. This may entail holding unique events at your location that customers cannot experience at home or making the in-store experience extraordinary in other ways.

For example, when movie theatres encountered competitive pressure from home streaming, some chains pivoted to invest in extra comfortable reclining chairs and premium food and beverage offerings. This made the movie theatre experience better than most people have at home.

You can also do an experience pivot by turning shopping into an immersive sensory experience through displays, scent, textures and food.

3. The Personal Touch

Similarly, when Best Buy was fighting a losing battle with Amazon, they created a program where they offered consumers free in-store advice about the best products to meet their needs and how they should be installed. Rather than a sales-oriented approach, the pivot was to be more consultative. Low pressure and free advice brought foot traffic, which turned into eventual sales. A consultative approach works particularly well with complex or high-ticket items and relies on the advisor being both knowledgeable and low key.

You can extend personal touch pivots to online marketing as well. If you have been collecting data on your customers’ shopping and browsing habits, kudos! Use this data to make suggestions for new products based on their taste and needs. For example, if a customer purchased a tackle box from you in the past, you can send him an email suggesting a cooler or pointing out a fishing rod that is on sale.

Facebook advertising is an easy way to implement this as well, since your pixel will show you which pages prospects visit and FB enables you to retarget them with relevant ads. Here’s an idea to A/B test: an ad for a complementary product vs. a link to a video testimonial about the product they looked at but didn’t buy.

4. Create Communities

Does your store or products have a loyal following? Do a community pivot by creating user/shopper communities through clubs, events, online forums and social media. Feature your customers and provide a place for them to interact with each other, post photos and videos and answer questions. Then you can point new potential customers to your community and let your existing customers become your brand ambassadors, aka salespeople.

Use this user-generated content on your website and social profiles too. See Starbucks’ White Cup Contest for an example of user-generated content. Seeing this not only gives new potential customers social proof that your store and products are good, but it makes them feel like they are a part of something bigger.

For more ideas, see Forbes’ article on being customer-centric. At Pro Creative, we believe marketing is all about being customer-centric. Contact us to find out what that looks like for your business.

10 Ways to Make Customers Comfortable Returning to Your Business Post-COVID

make customers feel comfortable returning to your business

There’s no doubt that COVID has radically, and perhaps permanently changed the way consumers behave. The biggest change is, understandably, their reluctance to be close to others and touching things that others have touched. So, now with many states reopening businesses, can you make customers comfortable returning to your business?

Morning Consult did some research to find out, asking 2,200 consumers as well as companies, business experts and medical professionals. Here’s what they found.

1. Regularly sanitizing high touch surfaces

This was the number one safety measure that made a difference in consumers’ minds with 55% saying it made them much more comfortable and 26% somewhat more comfortable for a grand total of 81%. Sanitizing minimizes the spread from objects to people, one of the two ways medical experts say COVID-19 is transmitted.

Consider posting signs with your cleaning schedule. For example, if you use shopping carts, you can post a sign saying “Shopping carts are sanitized immediately after being returned to the front of the store.” Do you use a disinfectant fogger? Post a sign that lets customers know how often you disinfect with the fogger and how long each application works to kill viruses. Customers also feel comfortable when they see store employees actively sanitizing surfaces.

2. Installing more hand sanitizer dispensers

More than three-quarters of US adults (77%) said that installing more hand sanitizer dispensers would make them feel more comfortable. While medical experts say this plays a relatively small part in reducing transmission, it is easy and affordable to implement. Hand sanitizer dispensers cost about $130, and hand mounted units are less. Commercial refills cost around $50.

3. Allowing fewer customers in a space at the same time

Seven in ten consumers want smaller overall density in stores and other spaces. Businesses will need to know how long the average customer spends at their location and average revenue per customer. Then you need to balance these numbers with how many people can safely be in your store at the same time. Keep in mind, you may need to increase your prices to stay profitable with reduced customer volume.

According to FEMA, maintaining a six-foot radius around each person means one person per 113 square feet. Take your business’ total square footage and divide it by 113 to calculate how many people (including employees) can safely share the space.

4. Dedicated hours for elderly and other vulnerable customers

Almost seven in ten Americans (69%) said they would like dedicated hours for the most vulnerable customers including the elderly and immunocompromised people. Businesses selling high ticket products like jewelry stores can operate on an appointment basis. More one-on-one interaction with customers will result in better customer satisfaction, and possibly more sales. For lower margin businesses, consider extending your hours to reduce crowding and rearrange staffing accordingly.

5. Spacing seating 6 feet apart for social distancing

Nearly two-thirds of consumers (62%) said that increased spacing between seating would make them feel more comfortable. While not every business has seating, you can also apply this to cashier lines and other places where customers gather. Movie theaters have roped off seats and even rows and gyms have made some machines off limits to create more space between patrons. Grocery stores have installed floor stickers telling people where to stand and making each aisle one-way so customers will have less possibility of encountering each other face-to-face.

6. Require all employees to wear masks

Sixty-one percent of consumers breathe a sigh of relief when a business’ employees are all wearing masks. And medical experts say it makes sense. After all, the mask is less to protect the wearer than others in the area in case the wearer is sick but asymptomatic. Although masks were in short supply at the beginning of the pandemic, supply has mostly caught up with demand, so this shouldn’t be a problem, whether you ask employees to bring their own or you supply them with masks.

7. Posting signage reminding people to social distance

Almost two-thirds of people surveyed said this inexpensive measure would make them feel better, another 25% said it wouldn’t make any difference. Still, it costs little to put into practice so it is worth the effort. Remember, social distancing means fewer customers at a time, so see #3 above to make sure you have enough customers and sales to stay profitable.

8. Requiring all customers to wear masks

While 63% said that signage requiring all customers to wear masks would make them feel more comfortable, another 20% said it would make no difference. Keep in mind that this would really only be a suggestion or reminder.

While you can refuse to do business with anyone not wearing a mask, you might end up doing more harm than good. In some locations, customers angry at being told to put on a mask have even brandished guns or become violent.

9. Providing to-go options for restaurants

Six in ten customers are looking for restaurants that offer pre-packaged or takeout options rather than (or in addition to) dine-in. Think about pre-packaging your most popular dishes where customers can just grab them from a refrigerated case. You might also want to rethink your walk-in takeout process to avoid customers clustering as they wait to place their orders. Options include online ordering with pickup and directing customers to a spaced single file line to order with belt stanchions.

signage can make customers comfortable in line

10. Requiring temperature screening for all customers

Although 57% of respondents thought temperature screening would make them feel safer, 30% were neutral and 13% said it would make them feel less safe.

This intervention has a lot of downsides, including being intrusive, expensive and labor intensive. Thermal imaging units cost between $2,000 and $40,000. It also only would identify people who are well into the symptoms, not asymptomic or pre-symptomic people who can also be contagious. On the plus side, it would act as a deterrent for sick people to go out.

Addressing customer fears with safety measures make customers comfortable shopping with you, so it’s a win-win.

Looking for other ways to get your small business back on its feet? Contact Pro Creative for custom, research-based creative strategies to get profitable and thrive in the new normal.